Ordinance of Georgia Appointing Benjamin Franklin Agent
ADS (copy): American Philosophical Society5
In November, 1765, Georgia dismissed William Knox6 as its agent because of his support of the Stamp Act. For two and a half years thereafter the question of the agency was a political football: the House of Assembly attempted to have Charles Garth7 appointed to succeed Knox; the Council refused, and Governor Wright8 used his influence in London to prevent Garth’s being recognized as agent. In January, 1768, after the Council had again rejected Garth, the Assembly gave way and suggested Franklin instead. This recommendation the Council unenthusiastically accepted.9
April 11, 1768.
the affairs of this Province in Great Britain.
Whereas There are many important affairs necessary to be represented Solicited and Transacted in Great Britain which cannot be Effectually done without having an Agent there And Whereas The General Assembly of this Province have thought Benjamin Franklin Esquire a proper person to be appointed for the purposes aforesaid Be It Therefore Ordained and it is hereby Ordained by His Excellency James Wright Esquire Capitain General and Governor in Chief of His Majestys Province of Georgia by and with the advice and Consent of the Honourable Council and Commons House of Assembly of the said Province in General Assembly met and by the Authority of the same That the said Benjamin Franklin be, and he is hereby declared nominated and appointed Agent to represent solicit and transact the affairs of this Province in Great Britain And Be It Further Ordained that the said Benjamin Franklin shall be and he is hereby fully Authorized and impowered to follow and pursue all such Instructions as he shall from time to time receive from the General assembly of this province or from the Committee hereinafter appointed to correspond with him.
And Be It Further Ordained That the Honourable James Habersham, Noble Jones James Edward Powell Lewis Johnson and Clement Martin Esquires The Honourable Alexander Wylly Esquire John Mullryne, John Smith Noble Wimberly Jones, John Milledge, John Simpson, Archibald Bullock, William Ewen and Joseph Gibbons Esquire1 untill Others shall be appointed or any seven of them two of which to be of the Council Provided nevertheless that if after being summoned in consequence of An Order from any of the Committee by the Clerk or Other person appointed by them for that purpose to meet the Committee they shall refuse or neglect to Attend then any seven of the persons before named shall be and they are hereby nominated and appointed a Committee to Correspond with the said Benjamin Franklin and give him such Orders and instructions from time to time as they shall Judge to be for the service of this Province.
And Be It Further Ordained that there shall be Allowed and paid unto the said Benjamin Franklin for his Agency the sum of One Hundred pounds Sterling money of Great Britain2 over and above his reasonable Charges and disbursements on his application to the several offices and Boards in Negotiating the affairs of this Province.
And Be It Further Ordained that the said Benjamin Franklin shall be and Continue Agent for this Province for One whole year to Commence the first day of June next in the year of Our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and Sixty Eight.
Council Chamber By Order of the Commons House of Assembly
11 April 1768 Alex Wylly Speaker
Assented to By Order of the upper House of Assembly
Ja Wright N Jones exd
Appointing Benjamin Franklin Esquire Agent to Solicit the affairs of this Province in Great Britain
Commons House of Assembly
1st Time 15th
2d Time 24th March 1768
3d Time 25th
And Passed Henry Keall CDC
Upper House of Assembly
1st & 2d Time 25th March
3 Time 5 April
And Passed C. Watson CGA
Georgia Secretarys Office A true Copy taken from the Original in this Office Examined and Certified by Thos Moodie 2d Secry.
5. The ordinance is printed in Candler, ed., Ga. Col. Recs., XIX, 12–14.
6. William Knox (1732–1810) had lived in Georgia, 1757–61, and fancied himself as a colonial expert. He was a voluminous pamphleteer, but his principal claim to fame is as Undersecretary of State for the American Colonies during the lifetime of that department; he served successively under Hillsborough, Dartmouth, and Germain, and had a real if undefinable influence upon the formulation of American policy. DNB.
7. The agent for South Carolina and M.P., for whom see above, XII, 30 n.
8. James Wright (1716–85) was a native Carolinian, son of the provincial chief justice, and served successively as attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor from 1761 to 1776 and again, after a two-year exile, from 1779 to 1782. In 1772 he was created a baronet. DNB.
9. See William W. Abbot, The Royal Governors of Georgia, 1754–1775 (Chapel Hill, ), pp. 109, 136–8, 140, 142–3; Alfred O. Aldridge, “Benjamin Franklin as Georgia Agent,” The Georgia Review, VI (1952), 163–4.
1. For James Habersham, secretary of the province, see above, III, 72 n. Noble Jones (c. 1700–75), James Edward Powell, Dr. Lewis Johnson (or Johnston), and Clement Martin were all councilors and political moderates. Jones was one of the original settlers; he had been a carpenter, surveyor, and physician, and at this time was a judge and the provincial treasurer. Powell, the captain of Fort George, was also a judge of the admiralty court. Johnson had formerly represented Savannah, and later became treasurer on Jones’s death in 1775. Alexander Wylly, speaker of the Commons House of Assembly, was moderate except when he supported the Massachusetts circular letter in 1768. John Mullryne, of Bonaventure, represented Wilmington, Tybee, Skidaway, and Green Island; he became a loyalist, and helped rescue Gov. Wright in 1776. John Smith, assemblyman from Medway and St. John’s Parish, later went the other way, becoming a member of the Council of Safety and the provincial Congress in 1775. Dr. Noble Wimberly Jones (c. 1724–1805), a representative from Savannah and the son of Noble Jones, was elected to succeed Wylly as speaker in Nov., 1768, was rejected in 1772 by Habersham, then acting governor, and subsequently served in the Continental Congress. John Simpson was an assemblyman from Frederica and St. James’s and another political moderate. Archibald Bullock (or Bulloch), a representative from Savannah, became speaker after Jones’s ouster in 1772, and later served as first president of the provincial Congress and delegate to the Continental Congress. William Ewen, an early settler and former basket-maker, represented Ebenezer, and in 1775 became president of the Council of Safety; he was then also a member of the provincial Congress, as was Joseph Gibbons, an assemblyman from St. John’s. John Milledge (1721–81), a Savannah representative, became a staunch adherent of independence.
These biographical details are collected from the following sources: Jack N. Averitt, Georgia’s Coastal Plain (3 vols., New York, etc., ), I, 132; E. Merton Coulter, Wormsloe: Two Centuries of a Georgia Family (Athens, Ga., ), pp. 1–107, 115–17, 131; Warren Grice, Georgia through Two Centuries, ed. E. Merton Coulter (3 vols., New York, etc., ), I, 63, 71, 80, 348, 389, 397, 640–1, 645; Charles C. Jones, Jr., The History of Georgia (2 vols., Boston, 1884), I, 462; II, 103–5, 123–5, 142–3, 207; William B. Stevens, A History of Georgia … (2 vols., New York and Philadelphia, 1847–59), I, 392; II, 73, 101, 104–8; Sarah B. G. Temple and Jenneth Coleman, Georgia Journeys … (Athens, Ga., 1961), pp. 12, 211, 267–91.
2. Another £50 was added later, but no salary was paid after 1773; BF was eventually compensated with a grant of land. Kammen, Rope of Sand, p. 177.