Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 21 March 1769

To Joseph Galloway

ALS: Clements Library

London, March 21. 1769

Dear Sir

Inclos’d is a Bill of Lading for the Telescope; I hope it will get safe to hand, and give Satisfaction.7 I have not yet got the Maker’s Account. It was with great Difficulty got done to go by this Ship.

We have been greatly alarmed last Week by a Project of Lord Barrington’s (Secretary at War) to bring in a Clause to be added to the American Mutiny Bill, impowering Military Officers in America to quarter their Troops in private Houses. He had very insidiously conceal’d his Intention, in order to surprize the House into it when the Bill was gone thro’ and just ready for engrossing: But we made such a Clamour about it, that the Ministry disclaim’d the Measure. Mr. Barré roasted him on it very severely; and the House would not come into it.8 I was so taken up in running about on this Occasion for two or three days, that I could not attend to examine the Telescope: but as it is made by the best Workman we now have, and a very honest Man, I rely on its being good, and well pack’d up.

Inclos’d is an additional Clause for the Mutiny Bill as propos’d by Mr. Pownall; part of it is adopted with some Variations; I cannot yet say precisely what they are;9 but you shall know per next Packet. With great Esteem, I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. The Session hastens to a Conclusion, and no Probability yet appears that the Acts will be repealed.

Jos. Galloway Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7See above, XV, 228 n, and BF to Galloway, Jan. 29.

8William Wildman Barrington, second Viscount Barrington in the peerage of Ireland, had served as secretary at war from 1755 to 1761, and in 1765 had resumed the position at the King’s express wish. He continued in it until 1778 and, although conscientious, never distinguished himself. The secretary at war was a relatively minor official, who was in effect the King’s military secretary, with no direct voice in policy-making; his principal Parliamentary concern was with the finances of the army. Barrington’s intervention in the matter of quartering troops was unusual, which may partly account for the clamor it raised from the opposition. Col. Isaac Barré (1726–1802), M.P. for Lord Shelburne’s borough of Chipping Wycombe, was one of the most redoubtable members of that opposition, and such an outspoken champion of America that his name, a few months later, was combined with that of John Wilkes for the christening of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Barre, Vt., was also named after him in 1793. For a brief description of the episode in the House of Commons that BF is describing see Cobbett, Parliamentary History, XVI, 605–7.

9Pownall offered two proposals: that the Quartering Act (i.e., the Mutiny Bill) should not apply to any colony that had itself made appropriate provision for the troops, and that where the Act was not specific the commanding officer and local magistrates might agree on how the soldiers were to be quartered. Both proposals, after some slight amendment, were accepted. Ibid., col. 606. The whole problem of quartering was under review at this time because of the difficulties encountered in housing the troops sent to New York in 1767 and to Boston in the autumn of 1768.

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