Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Foxcroft, 21 February 1769

From John Foxcroft9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Williamsbg. Febry 21st. 1769

Dear Sir

Immediately on my receiving your favour by the Genl. Gage Captain Kemble (enclosing me Mr. Todds Letter Signifying to me that their Lordships had been pleased to grant me leave of absence for a few Months) I set out for this Colony, in order to put the Riders on such a footing that no stopages might happen during my absence, which I think I have Effectually done; and at the same time, have by this new Regulation, Saved near One Hundred Pounds per Annum to the Revenue, in the Riding work between this place and Annapolis, a perticular Account of which I shall lay before you when we meet. You have my Dear Sir laid me under an additional obligation in the part you have taken in obtaining me leave to visit my Native Country for the last time, if it please God I arrive safe, and am bless’d with a sight of an Aged Parent which I have not seen for upwards of Sixteen Years I can quit England and spend the Remainder of my Days in America very happily.

I am a good deal Uneasy at present on finding by Mr. Todds Letter of Novr. 2d. which I received from Philada. by the last Post that I have fallen under the Displeasure of our Honoured Masters, occasion’d by my writing to Mr. Colden at New York that I could not agree to the Packett’s sailing before Her usual Day, and that if She was dispatch’d it must be at his own perrill. It was certainly an Errour of Judgement in me, and the good of the Revenue was the sole motive of my writing that Letter to Mr. Colden. I got Mr. Coldens Letter (giving an Account that the Genl. had order’d the Packet to Sail on Monday Morning) on Saturday Night a little after Eleven o Clock on Sunday Morning I had many Applications from different Merchants that the Packet might not Sail untill Her usual Day, which as well as I can remember was about Eight or Ten Days to it—and on my having recourse to the Secretarys Letter to us of the 12th. of March 1763 I thought and so did one or two of your Friends that the Genl. had nothing to do with the Packets in time of Peace; and I was very sure that not one Letter, could possibly go by Her from the Southard of New York; was She to sail agreeable to the Generals orders.1

I hope my Dear Friend that you will be able to prevent any disagreable consequences taking place from this unfortunate mistake and that if you are apprehensive of such a thing, that you would give my Brother timely Information that He may use his Intrest with His Friends on the Occasion.2 Perhaps I may be able on my coming over to set the Matter in a fairer light to their Lordships3 than it stands at present.

I had a Letter from Philada. by the last post your Family was well, I shall set out on my return in a few Days, and purpose embarking from philada. or New York the begining of April. I am and ever shall be my Dear Friend yours most affectionately

John Foxcroft

To Ben: Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Joint deputy postmaster general, with BF, for the northern district of North America.

1Gage’s orders for the packet to sail had been in letters to Alexander Colden, the New York postmaster, on Sept. 24 and 26, 1768. Anthony Todd, the secretary of the Post Office, had told Foxcroft in a letter of Nov. 2 that his objections had been overruled at home; and on Nov. 15 Hillsborough had told Gage the same thing. Carter, ed., Gage Correspondence, II, 78 n. 4, 79–80. Foxcroft was on firm ground, nevertheless, for Todd’s letter in 1763 had assured him and BF that in time of peace the packets were solely under the direction of the Post Office and not subject to orders from the Commander in Chief. above, X, 218.

2The only brother of whom we have record is Thomas, who had arrived in Philadelphia from England in 1765 and become postmaster there in the following year. above, X, 77. Why he should have had more influential friends than John, and how BF was supposed to know who they were, are questions that we cannot answer.

3Le Despencer and Sandwich, the Postmasters General.

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