Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Franklin, [3 September? 1771]: incomplete

From William Franklin

ALS (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

[September 3?,2 1771]

[Beginning lost:] Allen and Turner procured any Information to be given me, that the People would rise and destroy all their Iron Works in New-Jersey; that Mr. Turner had mentioned the Matter to him, and that upon his telling Turner that it was a Machine not within the Law, he laugh’d, and said that he knew very well what it was, and that if it was not strictly within the Letter, yet it certainly was within the Meaning, and that it was a poor Evasion, &c. Mr. Ogden added, that if it should even appear to be actually such an One as the Law prohibited, yet I could not cause it to be abated till it should be judg’d so by a legal Process, in which case the Owners would be subject to a Penalty of £200 Sterling, besides having their Work destroyed.3

I have acquainted you with these Particulars that you may be enabled to represent the Matter in its true Light, should you hear any thing further concerning it. I think to inform the Ministry of all that I know of the Affair by the next Pacquet, as I doubt not it will be convey’d to them by Allen or Penn in some Way or other.4 My Opinion of the Act in Question is much the same with yours,5 but I think that all Laws until they are repealed ought to be obeyed and that it is the Duty of those who are entrusted with the executive Part of Government to see that they are so. The Americans ought at least before they attempt to evade it, use all their Endeavors to obtain a Repeal, and I believe it would be for the Interest of both Countries that all partial Acts of that Nature were abolished.

I am glad that you preferr’d the short Letter,6 as his L.P. seems to be coming about, and inclined to be a little more complaisant, which you will perceive by his last Letter (No. 31) a Copy of which is enclosed. I likewise send you an Extract of a Letter from him and the Board of Trade dated June 21, respecting the Agency, which seems well calculated to lead me into another Squabble with the Assembly, for it is a Point they will never give up, and if I refuse to pass the Support Act with the Words objected to in it, I, and all the other Officers of Government must go without our Salaries.7 This brings to my Mind, that your Friends Mr. Read and Mr. Smith desired me lately to mention to you that it would be proper for you to empower some Person here as your Attorney to receive the Warrants for your Salary, and the Money of the Treasurer, (as was done by all the former Agents) in which Case your Warrants would be drawn every Quarter for your Salary with those of the other Officers of Government. The Money remitted to you by the Committee of Correspondence was not, it seems, intended to be appropriated to your Salary, but to defray such Expences in Soliciting, &c. as might be from Time to Time incurr’d. I think it would be best if you were to write to Mr. Joseph Smith, one of the Committee, to receive it for you; a Letter will be a sufficient Power.8 Betsy sends her Duty. I am as ever, Honoured Sir, Your ever dutiful Son

Wm: Franklin

P.S. I have begun a Letter to you on the Subject of our Account, which I shall finish so as to send by the next Opportunity.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2On Jan. 30, 1772, BF acknowledged receipt of four letters from WF, of July 3, Aug. 3, Sept. 3, and Nov. 5, 1771; and only that of Aug. 3 has survived entire. With the letter of which this is a fragment WF enclosed an extract of Hillsborough’s letter to him of June 21, which he could not have received by July 3; the fragment must be of his letter of Sept. 3 or Nov. 5, and in accordance with our policy we have opted for the earlier date.

3In this incomplete paragraph WF was, we believe, recounting what Ogden had told him. Joseph Turner of Philadelphia and his partner, Chief Justice William Allen of Pennsylvania, owned extensive ironworks in New Jersey. Charles S. Boyer, Early Forges & Furnaces in New Jersey (Philadelphia, 1931), pp. 233–43. Turner accused Ogden of owning a slitting mill, it seems, in violation of the Iron Act of 1750; and Ogden denied that his mill was covered by that statute. David Ogden, with his son Samuel and son-in-law Nicholas Hoffman, operated a slitting mill at Old Boonton on the Rockaway; it was disguised as a grain mill, the story goes, and when WF paid it a surprise visit he was deceived by the disguise, and beguiled by Ogden’s charm, into concluding that the report of illegal operations was groundless. Ibid., pp. 42–3.

4Chief Justice Allen was the father-in-law of Lieut. Gov. John Penn, who had returned to England the previous May.

5For BF’s opinion of the Iron Act see above, XV, 10–11.

6WF’s letters to Hillsborough were often submitted to BF to amend if he thought fit; see above, XVI, 36 n. The shorter version that BF selected is presumably that printed in I N.J. Arch., X, 230–2.

7The New Jersey Assembly claimed, on the basis of long usage, the sole right of appointing an agent for the colony, and had asserted its right in the support bill that provided BF’s salary. Hillsborough was intent on re-establishing the practice of appointment by the governor and both houses, and the Board of Trade had instructed WF to veto any support bill that asserted the Assembly’s claim. 1 N.J. Arch., X, 301; see also the headnote on BF’s interview with Hillsborough above, Jan. 16. The sequel is in the resolution of the N.J. House and Council below, Dec. 11–20.

8For Charles Read, a member of the Council, and Joseph Smith, an Assemblyman who acted as secretary of its committee of correspondence, see above, respectively, X, 313 n, and XVI, 256 n. BF followed WF’s suggestion and empowered Smith to receive the money; see BF to Smith below, Feb. 6, 1772. The salary was only £100 a year. Smith kept it for him, except for one £200 draft in 1774: Smith to BF, Oct. 1, 1772, May 13, 1774 (APS). At the end of 1774 BF recorded that he was owed £400, and the debt was discharged when he returned to America. Jour., p. 57; Ledger, p. 41.

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