Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Huske, 10 March 1772

From John Huske3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris 10th. March 1772

Dear Sir,

The enclosed Letter will fully disclose to you the Plan and the views of the Gentleman, who designs himself the honor of delivering you this. They, however crude and indigested from my hurry, pruned and dressed by your judicious Pen before they are presented, and your being so obliging as to accompany Mr. O’Gormand to Lord Clare on the occasion; I cannot but pursuade myself, added to the importance of the Subject to the whole British Empire, will produce in some mode, tho’ perhaps not in ours, what every British Subject must wish to see put in train of Success.4

If the plan is relished by the Ministry so far as to give this Gentleman encouragement to go to America, I have taken the liberty to assure Him that you will favor Him with your best advice on the occasion, and oblige with Letters that will be of real service to Him with your friends in Pennsylvania, N. Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.5

I make no apology to you for this presumption, knowing you have the subject at heart, as much as the proposer, or myself; and shall finish with a confidence that you will afford all the assistance in your power to so laudable an undertaking, and honor the Bearer with your friendship; and not the Less so because He is recommended to you by him, who has the happiness of being ambitious to approve himself, on all occasions, Dear Sir Your Most Obedient and Very Humble servant


PS Write nothing to this Country on the occasion.6

Addressed: To Doctor Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3A former merchant from Boston, Mass., M.P. for Maldon, protégé and secretary of the late Charles Townshend, economic adviser to BF on colonial trade, and a thoroughly unscrupulous adventurer. See above, XI, 444 n; XIII, 130 n; XV, 249–50; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 658–62.

4Huske was introducing to BF Thomas O’Gorman, who had studied medicine in France, served in the French army against the British, and been made a chevalier. He was an antiquarian and genealogist by avocation, but his principal activity was exporting wine to Ireland from his Burgundian vineyards. Maurice Lenihan, “The Chevalier O’Gorman,” 4 Notes and Queries, III (1869), 74–5; Richard Hayes, Biographical Dictionary of Irishmen in France (Dublin, 1949),pp. 231–2. The Chevalier’s Irish connections were doubtless the reason why Huske wanted him introduced to Viscount Clare, a critic-turned-admirer of BF (above, XIII, 134 n; XIV, 123 n); Clare had been ousted from the Board of Trade four years earlier, but was a vice-treasurer of Ireland and a supporter of the ministry. O’Gorman clearly wanted to use him for an introduction to Whitehall, where he hoped to obtain a government subsidy to encourage wine-growing in the colonies. Two MS fragments in BF’s papers (APS) were presumably brought him by the Chevalier; one describes the advantages of viticulture in America, and the other, in Huske’s hand, expatiates on O’Gorman’s qualifications for directing the enterprise.

5BF, in his delayed reply to Huske below, Sept. 6, concluded that the project was impracticable in the existing colonies, but might succeed in the new one that the Walpole Company was hoping to create.

6Huske, when Townshend’s secretary, had purportedly embezzled a large sum from the Treasury. He had fled to France to escape prosecution, and naturally had no wish to be traced.

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