Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 3 August 1773

To Joseph Galloway

ALS (letterbook draft): Library of Congress

Augt. 3. 1773

Dear Sir,

I was in hopes the Acts passed at your Winter Session, particularly the Paper-money Act might have been presented so as to come under Consideration before the Recess of the Boards. But they have not yet made their Appearance.1 I had Thoughts of returning this Fall, but have now concluded to stay another Winter, thinking my being here may be of Use when that comes under Consideration.

Inclosed I send you two or three Acts relating to America that have passed here lately. That relating to the legal Tender is similar to what pass’d 3 or 4 Years since in favour of New York, and which cost that Province £180 being consider’d as a private Act. It was then intimated to me, that I might upon Petition obtain such Acts for each of the Provinces I was concern’d with; but I thought it a shameful Imposition merely to accumulate Fees for the Officers of the two Houses: The Act to be amended was a publick Act, and if they had blunder’d in making it they ought to amend it gratis. I therefore would not apply. And now some of the Merchants complaining that thro’ this Obstruction to the Making of Paper [Money] Trade is declining in America, and Payments difficult, they have of themselves attempted the Remedy. Mr. Jackson drew the Bill, and it was a better one, but some of the Board of Trade [torn] it, and he does not now so well like it.2

It is long since I have had the Favour of a Line from you. I hope your Indisposition is not returned. With great and sincere Esteem, I am ever, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B [Franklin]

Mr Galloway

1How BF had heard of them, and why they had not arrived although they had been passed the previous February, we do not know. The act, one of fifteen, authorized emitting £150,000 in bills of credit and provided for a fund to discharge the public debt. The Privy Council referred this act, with the others, to the Board of Trade in February, 1774, and it was subsequently allowed. 8 Pa. Arch., VIII, 6965, 7093; Board of Trade Jour., 1768–75, p. 386, 393–5; Joseph A. Ernst, Money and Politics in America, 1755–1775 ([Chapel Hill, N.C., 1973]), pp. 304–8, 313–15.

2A New York enactment in 1769 raised a legal question about the meaning of the Currency Act of 1764. In 1770 Parliament settled the question, as it applied to New York, by permitting that colony to issue bills that would be legal tender for money due the province but not for private debts. This was an admission, BF is saying, that the earlier act had been a blunder. The remedy became law in June, 1773: 13 Geo. III, c. 57, extended the 1770 statute to all the colonies. See idem., pp. 282–5, 308–9; Jack M. Sosin, “Imperial Regulation of Colonial Paper Money, 1764–1773,” PMHB, LXXXVIII (1964), 194–8; Gipson, British Empire, XI, 260–3. BF’s earlier comments on the New York act may be found above, XVII, 121, 170–1, 174.

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