Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Franklin, 11 May 1769

From William Franklin

ALS:1 American Philosophical Society

Burlington May 11th, 1769

Honoured Father,

A few Days ago I was favoured with your Letter of the 20th. of March by Capt. Creighton. The Packet which left England the 7th. of March is since arrived, but I had no Letter by her from any one. I suppose (tho’ you do not mention it) that you have wrote to me before relative to the Letters I sent you by the January Mail;2 perhaps by Sparks who is not yet arriv’d. I wait impatiently for the Arrival of the April Packet, as I do not think it proper to convene the Assembly till I have Answers to some Letters I have wrote to the Ministry.3

Mr. Galloway has sent me (agreeably to your Desire) Copies of the Clauses added to the last Mutiny Act.4 I am very glad that they have pass’d, as I am convinced our Assembly would not have receded from the former Mode of providing Necessaries for the Troops in Quarters; and consequently Altercation and Confusion must have ensued.

I have wrote Col. Croghan5 what you mention concerning his Affair. I hope the Application will be attended with Success.

Capt. Trent met with some unexpected Delays6 but I suppose is by this Time arrived in England. I hear that Sir Wm. has a Letter from Lord H. mentioning that His Majesty entirely approves of all the transactions of the Treaty,7 so that I imagine Capt. Trent will meet with no Difficulty in his Application. Indeed it is necessary to our Friend W’s8 affairs that he should finish his Business in England in a short Time for those with whom he has left the Care of his Affairs find a good a deal of Difficulty in keeping Matters quiet with some of his Creditors during his Absence.

I have entered far into the Spirit of Farming, and have lately made a considerable Addition to my Farm, on very reasonable Terms. It is now altogether a very valuable and pleasant Place. I must beg you not to omit sending me the Drain-Plough I wrote to you for, invented and made by Wm. Knowles at Newport in the Isle of Wight. I observe by his Advertisement that he is to be heard of at Mr. Bailey’s Register of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts.9 I likewise want a Rotheran or Patent Plough, as it is called. There is a Draft of one in Mills’s Husbandry, and in the Select Transactions of the Edinburgh Society,1 but I can’t get our Workmen here to make one by it. They understand the Making of no other Ploughs but what are in common Use here. I was thinking to request to get Knowles to make me one of this kind also (as he advertises making all Sorts of Ploughs on the best mechanical Principles) but since I have learnt that he lives in the Isle of Wight I am at a loss to know how it or the Drain Plough can be sent without a great Expence, as I believe none of our Vessels in Time of Peace touch at Portsmouth, and to send it to London (if by Land) will make it come very dear. If however there are Opportunities of sending them by Water to London, or some other Seaport from whence Vessels sail to Philad. the Expence may not perhaps be worth minding.

I have not yet seen Mr. Caiger, who was recommended to you by Mr. Small and Mr. More, nor heard of his Arrival in America.2 Should it be in my Power to serve him in what he requests I shall readily do it.

Mr. Morgan, our Secretary is in Canada. I had a very polite Letter from him last Week in which he mentions his Intention of being here some Time this Month or the next. Mr. Reed, our Deputy Secretary has, I understand let his House at Trenton, and intends soon for England to marry DeBerdt’s Daughter. He has not, however, mentioned his Intentions to me, and perhaps will not think it necessary. He never comes here but at the Time of the Courts, leaving his Business of Secretary entirely to Clerks both here and at Amboy. Mr. Morgann intimates as if he had a Design of changing his Deputy, but it is a Matter I don’t chuse to interfere in; all that I shall desire is that whoever he appoints may be obliged to reside here and may be properly qualified to execute the Business.3

Publick Affairs remain much the same on this Side of the Water as when I wrote to you last. The Members of the New York Assembly are differing greatly among themselves. Col. Schuyler and Mr. Walton went out to fight a Duel but thought better of the Matter when they got on the Ground, and settled their Differences amicably.4 Col. Lewis Morris is expell’d for not being a Resident in the Borough of West Chester for which he was elected, tho’ he has a considerable Estate in the Borough. Mr. Livingston, their late Speaker, is like to be expelled on the same Account.5 By the Resolves of the House they allow Non Residents have a Right to elect but not to be elected. Parties run very high among them.

The Boston Writers have attack’d Governor Barnard on his Letters, and on his being created a Baronet. They worry him so much that I suppose he will not chuse to stay much longer among them.6 There is a Talk that a new Governor is shortly to be appointed. Many of the principal People there wish you to be the Man, and say that you would meet with no Opposition from any Party, but would soon be able to conciliate all Differences.

Our Supreme Court is Sitting, and I am a good deal engaged and hurried.

Betsy joins me in Duty. I am, as ever, Honored Sir Your dutiful Son

Wm. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1Portions of the letter which are now illegible have been silently supplied from the text printed in [William Duane, ed.,] Letters to Benjamin Franklin, from His Family and Friends. 1751–1790 (New York, 1859), pp. 41–5.

2None of this correspondence has survived except part of one letter from WF, for which see above under Jan. 2.

3These certainly included WF’s letter to Hillsborough of Jan. 28, 1769, inquiring about the government’s attitude toward the issuance by New Jersey of £100,000 in bills of credit, for which see 1 N.J. Arch., X, 99–102.

4See BF to Galloway above, March 21.

5For George Croghan, the Indian trader and land speculator, see above, V, 65 n, and subsequent volumes.

6William Trent and Samuel Wharton had been expecting to go to England together as emissaries of the “suffering traders.” When Trent was delayed by his efforts to straighten out his involved legal affairs, Wharton sailed without him. Lewis, Indiana Co., pp. 70–2.

7WF’s wish must have been father to the supposed letter: what Hillsborough actually wrote to Sir William Johnson was merely that the Board of Trade had not yet reported its opinion of the treaty with the Indians concluded at Fort Stanwix in the previous autumn. Johnson Papers, VI, 668. For the treaty see above, XV, 264–5, 275–9.

8Samuel Wharton.

9WF was expanding and improving Franklin Park, in Burlington County, N.J. In his letter to BF above, March 2, he had asked for a plough invented by Cuthbert Clarke; now he wanted one by Knowles, who had, like Clarke, recently received a prize for his invention. Robert Dossie, Memoirs of Agriculture, and Other Œconomical Arts (3 vols., London, 1768–82), I, 12–13, 79–80. William Bailey was registrar, or register, of the Royal Society of Arts from 1766 until his death in 1773.

1The Rotherham plough, based on a Dutch design, had come into use in England almost half a century earlier: E. Mingay, The Agricultural Revolution, 1750–1880 (New York, 1966), pp. 69–70. In his letter of March 2 WF had complained of having only the first volume of Mills’s Practical Husbandry; his other source for the plough was Robert Maxwell, ed., Select Transactions of the Honourable the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland … (Edinburgh, 1743).

2Mr. Caiger remains in obscurity, but the two who recommended him to BF were almost unquestionably Alexander Small, the Scottish surgeon and agricultural enthusiast, and Samuel More (d. 1799), who was secretary of the Society of Arts from 1769 to 1799. See above, IX, 110 n, and Derek Hudson and Kenneth W. Luckhurst, The Royal Society of Arts (London, [1954]), pp. 31–2, 172.

3Maurice Morgann, a former undersecretary of state for the Southern Department, had recently been appointed secretary of New Jersey; see above, XIII, 430 n. His deputy was Joseph Reed (1741–85), whose brother-in-law and protégé, Charles Pettit, succeeded him in October, 1769. Reed did not get to England until 1770 to marry Esther DeBerdt, the daughter of the colonial agent for Massachusetts. See DAB under Reed and 1 N.J. Arch., X, 132–5.

4Philip Schuyler (1733–1804) took a strong antiministerial stand as soon as he was elected to the Assembly in 1768. Jacob Walton (1732–82), a New York merchant and representative of the city, differed with him on almost all questions; only the intervention of friends prevented the duel. Don R. Gerlach, Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733–1777 (Lincoln, Neb., 1964), 170–2.

5These expulsions were part of the feud between the Livingston and De Lancey factions, and helped to break the power of the former. Lewis Morris (1726–98), representing Westchester, was unseated in April for nonresidency; Philip Livingston (1716–78), who had just been defeated for re-election in New York City and then elected in Livingston Manor, was unseated in May because he was not a resident of the family appanage. Roger Champagne, “Family Politics versus Constitutional Principles: the New York Assembly Elections of 1768 and 1769,” W&MQ, 3d ser., XX (1963), 75–9.

6For Francis Bernard see above, X, 353 n. His letters to officials at home were procured by William Bollan, agent for the Massachusetts Council, who sent them to Boston; the first reference to them was a list in the Boston Chron., April 7–10, 10–13, 1769. Although Bernard was created a baronet on April 5, word of the impending honor had reached Boston months before; see the extract of a letter from London in the Boston Chron., Jan. 26–30, 1769, and a later report in ibid., April 24–27. The Governor was soon recalled, ostensibly for consultation; he left Boston on August 1 and never returned.

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