Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, 13 February 1767

To Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Friday Evening Feb. 13. 67

Dear Sir

I send you the Sketch of the Bill for repealing the Act relating to the legal Tender, to be modell’d by you and brought in as propos’d.7

I am doubtful the Clause relating to existing Debts will occasion Difficulties in America, and therefore wish the Bill could pass without it.8

But I think a Clause limiting the Quantities each Colony may emit, would not be amiss. Suppose Pensilvania [£]200,000 Sterling and the rest in proportion. When by Experience it is found that the Limitation is too narrow they may petition for more. The Trading Interest here will always be willing and able to procure it for them, and it may prevent Excesses in some Colonies.

I send you the rough Draft of the Hints of Arguments I have drawn up for the Duke of Grafton, who I understand will support the Bill in the House of Lords.9 Please to return it to me to morrow.

The Packet goes to morrow Evening. I am, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To/Mr Jackson

Endorsed: 13 Febry 1767 Benjn. Franklin Esq

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The “Sketch of the Bill” may have been an outline BF had himself prepared, somewhat similar, perhaps, to the one he had drawn up in the spring of 1766; above, XIII, 204–7. But because the next sentence expresses doubts as to the desirability of one clause, it seems equally possible that he was simply reviewing and passing on to Jackson with his comments an outline prepared by other hands. In that case, the document may possibly have been a draft bill sent to New York by Robert Charles, handed to Governor Moore approvingly by an assemblyman, and sent to the Board of Trade by Moore, Dec. 19, 1766; N.Y. Col. Docs., VII, 884–5; Board of Trade Journal, 1764–67, p. 363. During the winter and early spring of 1767 the colonial agents and their merchant friends were actively working for the repeal or modification of the Currency Act of 1764. On this general subject see Jack P. Greene and Richard M. Jellison, “The Currency Act of 1764 in Imperial-Colonial Relations, 1764–1776,” 3 Wm. and Mary Quar., XVIII (1961), 485–518.

8BF apparently meant here that he was doubtful of the desirability of this clause, fearing that it would occasion difficulties in America; hence he wished it might be eliminated. One may speculate that the objectionable clause protected existing debts from the application of legal-tender provisions of future paper money. In some colonies, though probably not all, such a clause might have been rather unpopular.

9See the document immediately above. The Duke of Grafton was first lord of the Treasury and in Chatham’s absence was the top ranking member of the Administration.

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