Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 14 January 1767

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada: January 14. 1767

Dear friend

Thou’l find by the date of this Letter, that, We have entr’d into another Year, thy Friends here, sincerely wish, it may be repleate with Health and Happiness to thee, and that, within it, We may have to Congratulate each Other, on the Important Change made in our Goverment from Proprietary to Royal.

Our Assembly are now sitting but as yet, nothing Material has happened, between the two Branches of the Legislature; The House have receiv’d a Number of Petitions from every Quarter of the province, praying that, an Act may pass, to Oblige the Judges of the Supreme Court, to ride the Circuit, That the Country should not be forced to attend in this City, at so great an Expence, as they now do; This no doubt will meet with much Opposition, and possible may Miscarry with the G--r; If it does it will further Confirm to the People the Necessity of the Change; that thereby Justice may be duely and properly Administred. I think in their present scituation it will much puzzle them to know how to Act.8

Our last stroke in politicks, of [one or more lines torn off] Expediency or Inexpediency of this Plan, not having as yet seen it.9

I was Yesterday favourd with thy kind Letter per packet of the 8th. Novem. last,1 for which I thank thee.

By the same post from N York We were Informd, of the safe Arrival of George Croghan from the Illinois, by way of New Orleans;2 And I understand, that, His account of that Country is, that, its One of the finest in the World, that, He has settled every thing with the Indians to his Intire Satisfaction; And that Baynton Wharton & Morgan will this Winter have a Most profitable trade there; Its likely my Brother Samuel who is now at N York, will give thee a More full Account of this Matter.

We have had in this Month, the Most [torn] Changes in the Weather, known for Many Years, as thou’l Observe by the Account Inclosed.3

The Assembly of Maryland finding (as I understand) it Impossible to bring their Matters to a hearing before the King, and prosecute such Measures for the Good of that province, which they could wish to have done, as the Other Branches refus’d passing any4 [one or more lines torn off] his first Number on the 26 Inst., And as far as I can Judge, the People are inclined to favour his Undertaking.5

Thy Family are well, my Father desires his sincere respects paid thee. I am thy real and Affectionate Friend

Tho Wharton

To Benjamin Franklin Esqr

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin / Esqr / Deputy Post Master General of North / America In / Craven street / London / per Packet

Endorsed: T Wharton

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8On January 9 and 12 the Assembly read petitions from Bucks, Chester, and Cumberland Counties complaining that under the existing laws the judges of the Supreme Court did not ride circuit enough days to permit the trying of all causes in the outlying counties, hence many trials were transferred to Philadelphia to the inconvenience of litigants, jurymen, and others concerned. A bill to remedy the situation passed the House on January 21 but failed of enactment because the Assembly wanted it to be perpetual while Governor Penn insisted that it be restricted to three years only. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 5949–66, 5982–3, 5986–9, 6001–6; Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 355, 357, 359–64, 369–74. Chief Justice William Allen told the Proprietor, Thomas Penn, March 8, 1767, that the governor’s “breaking with the Assembly on the temporary clause is almost Universally condemned, and none of the Government’s friends can hold up their faces to it, and certainly if to call it no worse really very impolitick, especially as the Assembly in their then disposition would not have agreed to it.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. A somewhat different bill was introduced on May 6; the governor did not raise the issue of duration and meekly abandoned his other proposed amendments, so the measure was enacted on May 20. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 6008–11, 6019–23; Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 385, 389–92; Statutes at Large, Pa., VII, 107–10.

9It is impossible to say with any confidence what “last stroke in politicks” Wharton may have had in mind, or whether “this Plan,” mentioned in the first line of the next MS page, refers to the same or a different matter.

1Not found.

2Under a New York date line of January 12, Pa. Gaz., Jan. 15, 1767, reported the arrival of George Croghan at New York, returning north via Pensacola.

3Probably a communication signed “F.A.A.” and printed in Pa. Gaz., Jan. 8, 1767, reporting temperature records taken in Philadelphia three times a day between December 30 and January 5. On January 2 at 7:00 A.M. the thermometer stood at 2½ degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and on January 5 at 2:00 P.M. it stood at 48½ degrees above. The writer averred that his thermometer was “graduated with great Accuracy by a Standard One at Greenwich Observatory, in England.” The low reading, he commented, was “the greatest natural Cold ever known,” meaning, presumably, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Philadelphia.

4This fragmentary reference is to a protracted and highly confused controversy over financial matters in Maryland, complicated by the fact that the Assembly had no agent in England to represent its point of view in appeals to the Privy Council or in contests with Lord Baltimore. See Charles A. Barker, The Background of the Revolution in Maryland (New Haven, 1940), pp. 332–40.

5The reference here is clearly to William Goddard and his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Chronicle, And Universal Advertiser, a weekly of which the first issue appeared on Jan. 26, 1767. Joseph Galloway, Thomas Wharton, and Goddard entered into a partnership, Dec. 1, 1766, the primary interest of the two silent partners being to establish a paper to represent their political party and its position in a way which, they believed, David Hall was unwilling to do. Later the partners quarreled vigorously and Goddard published his side of the dispute in a pamphlet entitled The Partnership: or the History of the Rise and Progress of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, &c. (Philadelphia, 1770). See also Ward L. Miner, William Goddard, Newspaperman (Durham, No. Car., 1962), pp. 59–110.

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