Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lord Le Despencer, 26 July 1770

To Lord Le Despencer

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Cravenstreet, July 26. 1770

My Lord,

I heartily wish your Lordship would urge the Plan of Reconciliation between the two Countries, which you did me the Honour to mention to me this Morning. I am persuaded that so far as the Consent of America is requisite, it must succeed. I am sure I should do everything in my Power there to promote it.1

I beg leave to lay before your Lordship, and to request you would be so good as to peruse the enclos’d original Letters to me from Gen. Bouquet, who commanded the British Troops in Pensilvania in 1764, when I was one of the Commissioners of the Board of Treasury there.2 He was then on an Expedition against the Indians in the Ohio Country. Your Lordship will in these Letters see the effectual Use I made from time to time of my Influence in America, for his Majesty’s Service. Gen. Bouquet in that Expedition fought and defeated the Indians, and compell’d them to sue for Peace. He afterwards own’d great Obligations to me for the Assistance I procur’d him from our Province.

I have Enemies, as every public Man always has. They would be glad to see me depriv’d of my Office; and there are others who would like to have it. I do not pretend to slight it. Three Hundred Pounds less would make a very serious Difference in my annual Income. But as I rose to that Office gradually thro’ a long Service of now almost Forty Years, have by my Industry and Management greatly improv’d it, and have ever acted in it with Fidelity to the Satisfaction of all my Superiors, I hope my political Opinions, or my Dislike of the late Measures with America (which I own I think very injudicious) exprest in my Letters to that Country; or the Advice I gave to adhere to their Resolutions till the whole Act was repealed, without extending their Demands any farther, will not be thought a good Reason for turning me out.3 I shall, however, always retain a grateful Sense of your Lordship’s Good-will and many Civilities towards me, and remain as ever, with the greatest Respect, Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. There are Letters also in the Secretary of State’s Office, from Gen. Braddock to the then Sir Thos. Robinson, expressing his great Obligations to me for the Services I rendered him.4

Lord Le Despencer

Endorsed: Doctor Franklin

1This reference is as tantalizing as the similar one in BF to Galloway above, Jan. 11. We have found no other evidence that Le Despencer was concerned with plans for reform, and he was anything but a noted constitutional theorist. The plan was doubtless not his own, but whose and what it was we cannot say. It is an interesting sign, nevertheless, that in the aftermath of the struggle for total repeal of the Townshend Acts ideas were astir in some quarters for restructuring imperial relations.

2For Bouquet see above, VII, 63 n and, for his letters to BF, XI, 266–7, 321–6.

3Several of BF’s letters to America during the spring, urging continuance of the nonimportation agreements, had got back to England and caused enough of a furor to endanger his position in the Post Office; hence this appeal to one of the Postmasters General. We have been unable to identify more than one of the letters in question; see above, p. 180 n. Neither can we explain why BF feared, as early as July, being ousted from the Post Office; the main attack on him came later. In early August he spoke of a letter that we have not located, supposedly in Goddard’s Pa. Chron., which asserted that BF had been appointed to the Post Office because he was agent for Pennsylvania. Thomas Coombe to his father, Aug. 4, 1770, Hist. Soc. of Pa. This was scarcely a serious attack, and we have found none in the London press before late August, when a writer calling himself Veritas assailed BF in the Gazetteer as Dr. Doubleface and, later, as a modern Judas; see the issues of Aug. 23 and Oct. 17. Veritas had been excoriating the Americans since late June; we suspect that he was John Robinson, the customs officer who had sailed from Boston on March 16.

4For this and other expressions of Braddock’s sense of obligation in 1755 see above, VI, 14–15.

Index Entries