Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 13 December 1766

To Joseph Galloway

ALS: William L. Clements Library

London, Dec. 13. 1766

Dear Friend,

I congratulate you cordially on the News I see with much Pleasure in the Papers, that you are chosen Speaker of the Assembly.7 I foresee great Good to our Country from your being in that Station, as I know you will fill it ably and worthily.

It is long since I have heard from you; not a Line of later Date than Sept. 22.8 not a Word since the Election, or the Sitting of the Assembly. I wrote to you per the last Packet,9 and have little to add; for, ever since, there has been a Ferment at Court; every Day producing Changes or Resignations, or expected Changes; so that little else has been attended to, except the Corn Affair in Parliament, and the Act of Indemnity for those that advised the Embargo on Provisions, and acted under it.1 We have however got the Act thorough [through] for amending the Act of last Year, relating to the Trade to Ireland, &c. which was complain’d of in a Letter from the Committee.2 It is agreed to by the Lords, and will receive the Assent. Mr. Jackson intends to write if he has time, and will I suppose be more particular: But I expect to get a Copy of the Act on Monday, which I hope will not be too late for the Packet.

Lord Hillsborough is now gone from the Board of Trade to the Post-Office, and Mr. Nugent succeeds him at the Head of that Board.3 I know not how he will prove, whether a Friend or otherwise to America. He was indeed against us in the Affair of the Repeal: But here Men often alter. One Comfort is, that if he proves an Enemy, the Board has not the Power or Influence it had, being reduc’d to a meer Board of Reference, proposing or moving nothing of itself.4 I call it a Comfort, because America has rarely, for many Years past, had a Friend among them. The Standing Secretary seems to have a strong Bias against us, and to infect them one after another as they come to it. But I hear he is about to quit.5

Mr. Jackson and myself, hoping since the late Changes, that the Ministry will now continue for a while, are using our best Endeavours to obtain a Repeal of the Act restraining the Emission of American Paper Money of legal Tender, which will come under Consideration after the Holidays;6 and also our other main Point, making all the Impressions possible wherever we can be heard, preparatory to reviving the Petition: For tho’ we have heard nothing from you or the Committee, we conclude from the Elections, and your being Speaker, that the Assembly tho’ a new one, continues of the same Mind with their Predecessors. With great and sincere Esteem, I am, Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

 Joseph Galloway Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The new Assembly had chosen Galloway speaker on October 14 instead of Joseph Fox, who had held that office since the resignation of Isaac Norris, Oct. 24, 1764. Governor Penn had written his uncle, Thomas Penn, Sept. 12, 1766, that Fox was “lost to the party; he is convinced, that the great Patriot as Franklin is called, has been making fools of them all; he is an honest man I believe, and has great Interest in the Town. There is a design to turn him out of the house because he is too much with the Governor and Mr: Allen. This is what is propagated by the party, than which nothing can better shew their malice and rage, for I have not seen him to speak to him these six months that I know of, and he never was more than twice in my house in his life except upon publick business, but they never had any regard to truth.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. Penn may have exaggerated Fox’s feelings about BF; it seems clear, however, that Fox may have become too much of a moderate for the majority of the anti-proprietary party in the Assembly to accept him any longer as their leader.

8No letter from Galloway of September 22 has been found.

9BF’s letter of November 8; above, pp. 487–8.

1See above, pp. 510–16.

2See above, pp. 419–21, 465–7. The amending act became law on December 16.

3Lord Hillsborough became joint postmaster general with Sir Francis Dashwood, Lord Le Despenser. The news of their appointment and that of Nugent to the Board of Trade appeared in London Chron., Dec. 4–6, 1766. Robert Nugent (1709–1788) was created Viscount Clare, Jan. 19, 1767, and Earl Nugent, July 21, 1776, both in the Irish peerage; M.P., 1741–84; a lord of the Treasury, 1754–59; vice treasurer of Ireland, 1760–65, 1768–82; president of the Board of Trade, December 1766–January 1768. He had opposed repeal of the Stamp Act and favored forcing the Assemblies to compensate sufferers from the riots. A former supporter of Newcastle and then of Grenville, he became an adherent of Administration and remained so until the resignation of Lord North in March 1782. DNB; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, iii, 218–22.

4For some years the Board of Trade had functioned virtually as a ministerial executive office, with full authority in its own area, but by an order in council of Aug. 8, 1766, it became an office of reference only. Colonial governors were to communicate directly with the secretary of state for the Southern Department, sending to the Board merely copies of their letters to him.

5John Pownall (1720–1795), brother of Gov. Thomas Pownall, had been on the clerical staff of the Board of Trade since 1741. He was joint secretary, 1753–58, and secretary, 1758–76; after the creation of a secretaryship of state for the Colonies in January 1768, he was also under-secretary of state until 1776, when he became a commissioner of the Excise. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, iii, 315–16. An able, knowledgeable, and tenacious civil servant, Pownall was far from quitting in 1766.

6In spite of efforts, neither BF and Jackson nor the other colonial agents were able to win any general repeal, or even relaxation, of the Currency Act of 1764 during the next session of Parliament.

Index Entries