Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Franklin, 17 March 1770: extract

To William Franklin

Extract:1 Historical Society of Pennsylvania

March 17, 1770

What you say with regard to advancing Money for Building Mills, Bloomeries, &c.2 has a good deal in it, and I believe most of the Persons concerned will think with you when the Settlement comes under Consideration. I sent you a Part of L. Evans’s Map, containing the Bounds of the intended Province: You see by that, that the Scheme is much enlarg’d since the first Proposition of purchasing only 2,400,000 Acres.3 We had at first no Thoughts of making it a distinct Province and Government, as now it is to be. The Duke of Grafton’s Resignation, and the Sickness of the two Secretaries,4 has retarded a little the Completion of our Bargain, but we now expect it soon.

Endorsed: Extract of B. F. Letter to W. F. March 17th. 1770

1The MS extract, like a similar one of an earlier letter from BF to WF that has also been lost (above, XII, 361–5), was probably made for circulation among American friends, in this case those interested in the Grand Ohio Company.

2The draft articles for the Grand Ohio Company (above, XVI, 166) provided for the erection of mills and other buildings on the land to be granted. A bloomery was a furnace and forge for converting ore into wrought-iron “blooms,” or large ingots.

3Apparently a copy of Lewis Evans, A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America … (London, 1755), with the boundary lines added by hand. The ambition of the Company promoters was growing fast. Their original request for 2,400,000 acres had now grown to twenty million. See above, XVI, 163, and the memorial of Jan. 4, 1770.

4We cannot identify them, partly because the term is ambiguous. If BF was referring to secretaries of state, one likely possibility is Lord Rochford, head of the Northern Department and a patron of the Company (Lewis, Indiana Co., p. 88); the other obvious possibility would be Hillsborough, except that he was well enough to attend the March meetings of the Board of Trade. If, as seems more likely, BF was referring to less exalted secretaries, one of the two he had in mind was probably John Robinson, who had been appointed secretary of the Treasury in February but did not assume his duties until autumn (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 364); the delay was perhaps occasioned by illness. The other may have been John Pownall, secretary of the Board of Trade and an undersecretary of the American Department. Both men were influential behind the scenes.

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