Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Franklin, 29 July 1773

From William Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New york July 29th. 1773

Honoured Father,

I arrived here on Monday Evening last when I had the Pleasure of receiving yours of June 2. by the Packet. I am on my Way to Albany with Mrs. Franklin, who wanted a Jaunt this Summer on Account of her Health; and I have some Business to transact there likewise.8

I am surprized the Grant was not made out when you wrote. By the May Packet Wharton wrote that every Thing would be compleated so that he should certainly leave England by the End of the Month or the Beginning of June at farthest. Mr. McRabie (Neave’s Partner) has, I am told, wrote that as soon as the Grant passed the Seals, Wharton would receive as much Money for Lands in the new Colony, as would be sufficient to discharge all the Demands of Baynton & Wharton’s Creditors. And Thos. Wharton has actually paid, or agreed to pay, all the Money allowed by the Trustee for the Maintenance of Wharton’s Family during his Negotiations in England, which puzzles the Creditors to account for.9

Our Chief Justice is just returned from Rhode Island, without being able to do any Thing in Execution of the Commission he went upon, as they could obtain no Evidence worth relying on.1 He tells me that Govr. Hutchinson is made very unhappy by the Publication of his Letters to Whately, and the consequent Treatment he has received, and talks of going to England. It is said by some that you sent the Letters over, and by others that it was Mr. Temple. I suppose it must be the latter. Govr. H. told the Chief that the Party against him [was] much elated on receiving some Letters from you [and?] you went so far as to advise them t[o be bold?] in insisting on their Independency. [But the?] Govr’s. Party, on the other hand, are or pretend to [be] in hig[h Spirits?] at the Advices they have received from England. The Govr. is gloomy and low spirited, and seems by no means pleased with his Situation.2

I have not Time to add more, nor even to copy this, as the Capt. of the Sloop has just sent me Word he is waiting for me. Betsy joins in Duty with, Honoured Sir, Your ever dutiful Son

Wm. Franklin

Addressed: To / Dr. Franklin / Craven Street / London / per Packet

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The business had to do with the intricate affairs of the Burlington Co. and its land claims near Lake Otsego: William H. Mariboe, “The Life of William Franklin …” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pa., 1962), pp. 301–3, 326–7.

9Negotiations for the Walpole grant were proceeding at a glacial pace; see above, BF to Foxcroft, July 14, and to WF, July 25. McRabie we cannot identify, but his London firm of Richard Neave & Son (above, XII, 151 n) had acted as banker for Baynton, Wharton & Morgan since 1763 and was deeply involved in its financial difficulties. Those difficulties had gone on for years: in 1767 the creditors had chosen a board of trustees to supervise the affairs of the Philadelphia firm, but its assets were not finally liquidated until 1776. Max Savelle, George Morgan, Colony Builder (New York, 1932), pp. 37–41, 73–5. McRabie seems to have promised that his house, once the grant was made, would again lend money to its correspondent, presumably in return for mortgages on newly acquired western land.

1Frederick Smyth had been chief justice of New Jersey since 1764: above, XI, 464 n. He was a member of the commission of inquiry into the Gaspee affair, for which see above, XIX, 379, and the note on Cooper to BF, March 15, 1773.

2Our conjectural insertions are based on the context and the space torn away at the end of each line. For the publication of the Hutchinson letters see below, p. 539 n. The Governor was indeed unhappy. Exposure of his correspondence eroded such support as he had had, and Dartmouth had rebuked him for opening a constitutional mare’s nest in the debate with the House and Council. In June he had asked leave to go to England; it was given, but did not arrive until the middle of the tea crisis. Bernard Bailyn, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (Cambridge, Mass., 1974), pp. 218–20, 250–9. BF pointed out in his reply to this letter below, Oct. 6, that all he had advised in writing to Cushing was to stand firm and to trust in America’s growing strength. But he had told the Speaker more than that in his letter of May 6, quoting what he had said to Dartmouth: Parliamentary authority over the colonies could not be exercised without destroying it. That statement might well have seemed in Boston to be an assertion of de facto independence. Then how could the Governor’s party have been in high spirits (if we guess the word correctly)? Perhaps because Whitehall was taking the crisis in Massachusetts seriously, and was considering coercive measures to make the House retreat from its stand. Above, p. 201; Hutchinson, History, III, 297.

Index Entries