Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Franklin, 17 August 1772

To William Franklin

Reprinted from William Temple Franklin, ed., Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin … (3 vols., 4to, London, 1817–18), II, 171.

London, Aug. 17, 1772.

Dear Son,

At length we have got rid of Lord Hillsborough, and Lord Dartmouth takes his place, to the great satisfaction of all the friends of America. You will hear it said among you (I suppose) that the interest of the Ohio planters has ousted him, but the truth is, what I wrote you long since, that all his brother ministers disliked him extremely, and wished for a fair occasion of tripping up his heels; so seeing that he made a point of defeating our scheme, they made another of supporting it, on purpose to mortify him, which they knew his pride could not bear.6 I do not mean that they would have done this if they had thought our proposal bad in itself, or his opposition well founded; but I believe if he had been on good terms with them, they would not have differed with him for so small a matter. The K. too was tired of him, and of his administration, which had weakened the affection and respect of the Colonies for a Royal Government, with which (I may say it to you) I used proper means from time to time that his M. should have due information and convincing proofs. More of this when I see you. The K.’s dislike made the others more firmly united in the resolution of disgracing H. by setting at nought his famous report.7 But now that business is done, perhaps our affair may be less regarded in the Cabinet and suffered to linger, and possibly may yet miscarry.8 Therefore let us beware of every word and action, that may betray a confidence in its success, lest we render ourselves ridiculous in case of disappointment. We are now pushing for a completion of the business, but the time is unfavourable, every body gone or going into the country, which gives room for accidents. I am writing by Falconer,9 and therefore in this only add that I am ever your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.

P.S. The regard Lord D. has always done me the honour to express for me, gives me room to hope being able to obtain more in favour of our Colonies upon occasion, than I could for some time past.1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For the maneuverings that ousted Hillsborough see BF to Jones above, Aug. 3. The Bedfordites, as noted there, were as much interested in attacking North and his protégé as in championing the Walpole Company; but all they succeeded in doing was to replace a protégé by North’s relative and close friend. For William Legge, second Earl of Dartmouth, see above, XII, 362 n.

7BF’s monarchical bias seems to be showing. We have no indication that the King disapproved of the Secretary’s conduct in office or played a personal part in the ouster; immediately thereafter, on the contrary, he solaced Hillsborough by promoting him to an earldom in the peerage of Great Britain. The “famous report” was from the Board of Trade in April, opposing the Walpole grant; see the note above, under May 1, on BF’s purported rejoinder.

8BF’s doubts ran counter to most of the omens. On July 1 the Privy Council Committee had considered the results of its hearing on June 5 and recommended, because the area was already being settled, accepting the Walpole petition and establishing a new colony. Lewis, Indiana Co., pp. 112–13. On Aug. 14, the day when Dartmouth took office, the Privy Council endorsed this recommendation. The grant should be made, its report concluded, and the Indian tribes so informed. The Company should be prohibited from settling the portion of the grant between its western border, running south from the Scioto, and the Lochaber line; all previous titles, whether equitable or legal, within the entire tract should be secured in the grant; the colonists should be protected by a proper government. Kenneth P. Bailey, ed., The Ohio Company Papers, 1753–1817 … (Arcata, Cal., 1947), pp. 257–62. But opposition was already gathering, as BF may have known, and almost immediately made its first attempt to win over Dartmouth; see Lewis, op. cit., p. 122.

9The two letters, or parts of a single letter, below, Aug. 19.

1Although the hope was not borne out in the long run, Dartmouth’s treatment of him was a welcome change from Hillsborough’s. See BF to WF below, Nov. 3.

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