Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Cushing, 3 April 1773

To Thomas Cushing

ALS: Public Record Office;9 letterbook draft: Library of Congress

London, April 3. 1773


My last was of the 9th past, since which nothing material has occurr’d relating to the Colonies. The Assembly’s Answer to Gov. Hutchinson’s Speech is not yet come over; but I find that even his Friends here are apprehensive of some ill Consequences from his forcing the Assembly into that Dispute, and begin to say it was not prudently done, tho’ they believe he meant well. I inclose two Newspapers in which it is mentioned.1 Lord D: the other Day express’d a good deal of Concern to me, at the growing Uneasiness in N England, wishing some Means could be fallen upon to heal the Breach.2 I took the Freedom to tell him, he could do much in it if he would exert himself. I think I see Signs of Relenting in some others. The Bishop of St. Asaph’s late Sermon to the Society for Propagating the Gospel, is much talk’d of for its Catholic Spirit and favourable Sentiments relating to the Colonies. I will endeavour to get a Copy to send you, tho’ it is not yet publish’d.3 With great Esteem and Respect, I have the Honour to be Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin4

Honble. Thos Cushing, Esqr.

Addressed: To / The honble. Thomas Cushing, Esqr / Boston

Endorsed: Benja Franklin London April 13. 1773 private

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9This was one of the letters that later went through the hands of the Rhode Island Loyalist, Thomas Moffatt, who commented on the cover that it “Contains some Strictures upon the Massachusetts Assemblys Reply to Govr. Hutchinsons Speech written only to keep alive the fewel of Strife and Discontent in the Province.” We assume that “written” modifies “Strictures,” and that the Assembly’s reply crept into the sentence by mistake.

1For Hutchinson’s speech see the annotation of BF to Cushing above, March 9. In his draft BF added here, and then deleted, “The Paper sign’d a New England Man is of my Writing.” One of the two newspapers, then, was the Public Advertiser of March 16, which printed “On Claims to the Soil of America.” The other was probably the March 9 issue of the same paper, which contained the letter that evoked BF’s reply; see the headnote on that reply above.

2BF’s draft, after the deleted sentence noted above, continued: “Lord Dartmouth express’d his Wishe to me that some Means,” etc. The interview seems to have been devoted to the affairs of New Jersey as well as New England; see BF to WF below, April 6.

3Jonathan Shipley, A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts … February 19, 1773 (London, 1773), pp. 1–17. For a modern reprint, with an introduction, see Paul H. Smith, ed., English Defenders of American Freedoms, 1774–1778: Six Pamphlets Attacking British Policy (Washington, 1972), pp. 9–27. Shipley advocated more moderation in dealing with the colonies and emphasized the role that the Society might play in promoting reconciliation; to that end, presumably, he refrained from any mention of an American episcopate. The sermon was published by April 6, when BF sent copies to Coombe and Galloway, and it elicited articles from Arthur Lee in the Public Advertiser on April 13 and 15. In America it sold like hot cakes. It was reprinted in Boston in June, and soon afterward in Newport, Norwich, New York, and Philadelphia. Thomas R. Adams, American Independence: the Growth of an Idea (Providence, 1965), pp. 77–9; see also below, Cushing’s acknowledgment of June 14 and BF to Shipley, Aug. 21.

4BF’s draft has a deleted memorandum, “Wrote by the same Conveyance Capt. Jenkins, to Coz. Williams,” the letter that follows.

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