Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 21 September 1767

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Septemr. 21st. 1767

Dear friend

I wrote thee on the 8th Inst.9 since which have none of thy favours, as I in my last inform’d thee, relative to the Affairs of Baynton Wharton & Morgan,1 I have now the satisfaction of saying, that, in a few Days after, they calld their Creditors together, and laid before them, a state, whereby it clearly appeared they had a Capital of £28.000 and Upwards, after paying all their Creditors their full demands and deducting very largely for Doubtfull and Bad Debts, And reckoning their great Adventure to the Illinois, at only the prime Cost with Charges;2 this state so satisfied them that they with the greatest Chearfullness came into a Letter of Licence for 3 Years, the business to be transacted by the House, under the Councill of Eight of their Creditors, and distribution to be made rateable among them, as fast as a Sum is receiv’d, on which it would be worth while; the distribution to be on the same proportion to B & Ws. Creditors as those of B.W & M;3 thus they are now happily at work, and their George Morgan setts off this Week for the Illinois, in order to finish their great Adventure in that country;4 should the Profitts continue at the rate they have hitherto sold, its not doubted, their Ballance on winding up, (which they hope will be before—the termination of the 3 Years) will be much larger. I dont find they can have it in their power to write to Rd. Neave & Son or David Barclay & Sons5 by this Opportunity, so that, should it be convenient, thou can communicate the Contents to them.

Our Election is near at hand, [and] we have little reason to fear a change in our Ticket; except [torn] of Our friend John Potts, who is so Ill, that his [torn] Expected.6 There has lately been a Change in the [torn] A Stedman left out, and John Lawrence placed in his stead, and Thomas Willing made the fourth supream Judge;7 Capt. James Young and Charles Jolly Judges of the Pleas &c.8 We are inform[ed] the Order for these Creations came from Your side; And Its expected We shall have a Number of New Common Councill Men elected shortly;9 These Appointments a good deal sower the New Allies as some of them expected to have been Exalted.

There is some reason to believe that W A will lose his Election in Cumberland County.1 I remain thy real and Affect[ionate] Friend

Tho Wharton

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin / Esqr / Deputy Post Master General of No. America / In / Craven Street / London. / per favour of / Capt Jefferies / Packet

Endorsed: Mr Tho Wharton Sept. 21, 1767

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found.

1Very little has been found regarding the financial difficulties in which this firm appears to have become involved at this time, beyond what is said in this letter and in one from Joseph Galloway to WF, Sept. 6, 1767, in the Franklin Papers, APS. Perhaps the simplest explanation of the situation is found in Galloway’s letter, where he quotes the prominent Philadelphia merchant, Abel James, as expressing the belief that in the end the firm’s enemies “will say nothing worse of them, than that they have stretched the Cord too tight.”

2The firm was heavily engaged in supplying the British garrisons in the West and in trading with the Indians in the Illinois country.

3A legal distinction presumably arose when George Morgan became a partner in the previously existing firm of Baynton & Wharton.

4Galloway had told WF on Sept. 6 that it was proposed to send Samuel Wharton to the Illinois, but in Galloway’s opinion Wharton’s absence from Philadelphia would be disastrous to the plan of the Philadelphia associates of getting a large cession of lands from the Indians in retribution for their destruction of traders’ goods in previous years. Such a cession was essential to the scheme for a settlement in the Illinois country. Galloway therefore wanted WF to come to Philadelphia at once to talk Abel James and the other merchant creditors into holding Wharton in Philadelphia. Whether WF went to Philadelphia is not known, but apparently Morgan was sent west instead of Samuel Wharton.

5Two London merchant firms actively engaged in trade with Philadelphia.

6John Potts’s place in the Assembly was taken this year by his son Samuel Potts (1736–1793), but the father survived until June 6, 1768.

7The changes were in the Supreme Court; Alexander Stedman was dropped and John Lawrence and Thomas Willing appointed, increasing the membership by one.

8These two men had been first appointed justices of the peace in May 1767 and were reappointed in September.

9Eight new men were appointed to the Common Council on October 6.

1William Allen was reelected to the Assembly from Cumberland Co. this year as he had been every year beginning in 1756 and continued to be regularly through 1775.

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