Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin and William Bollan to Lord Dartmouth, 20 August 1773

Franklin and William Bollan to Lord Dartmouth

ALS:4 the William Salt Library, Stafford

This letter to the American Secretary, and the one from Franklin alone on the following day, raise an interesting question about the agents’ timing. On the 20th they forwarded what had “this day come to our hands,” the letter to Dartmouth from the Massachusetts House and Council; on the 21st Franklin forwarded the petition from the House, “just received,” for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver. Speaker Cushing had sent the first with his letter of June 30, and the second with that of June 25;5 did they in fact arrive in reverse order, or did the agents agree to present them in that order for reasons of their own? The letter was relatively conciliatory; the petition was a bombshell. When each was received is not clear, but there is good reason to suppose that the petition arrived first.6 If so, Franklin may have kept it for a time to see what developed, and then decided with Bollan that the letter gave them a diplomatic way to impress Dartmouth with their constituents’ good will before confronting him with the explosive petition.

S. hampton street, Covt. garden, Augt. 20th. 1773

My Lord,

The Letter herewith inclosed, from the Council and house of Representatives of the Massachusetts province to your Lordship, having this day come to our hands, we think it our duty to forward it without delay, and have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, Your Lordship’s most obedient, and most humble servants

W. Bollan
B Franklin

The rt. honble. the Earl of Dartmouth

Endorsed: Mr. Bollan 20 Aug. 1773

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4In Bollan’s hand, perhaps because the enclosure was signed by Thomas Flucker, secretary of the Council as well as of the province, and was therefore formally Bollan’s concern.

5For the contents of each see the annotation of the two Cushing letters above.

6Whether it did or not depends on what ship carried it. Capt. Hall in the Dartmouth and Capt. Loring in the William sailed from Boston on June 29, and arrived in London respectively on Aug. 4 or 5 and on Aug. 18 or 19. Mass. Gaz.; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, July 1, and Lloyd’s Evening Post, Aug. 4–6, 18–20, 1773. Cushing may have sent the petition and his covering letter of June 25 in either, or very possibly in both. Hall certainly carried a copy of the petition, for a letter-writer in London had seen one by the 7th (——Wentworth to Rockingham, Aug. 7, 1773, Wentworth Woodhouse MSS, R1/1438, Sheffield City Libraries); if BF’s copy came by the same ship, as seems probable, he had it a fortnight before he told Dartmouth that it was “just received.” The letter from the House and Council was enclosed in Cushing’s above of June 30, which went in duplicate. The Speaker’s LS arrived late: it went by way of Liverpool, where it was postmarked Aug. 26. His ALS went by the Neptune out of Nantucket, and she passed Gravesend on the 17th: 6 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., IX, 305; Public Advertiser, Aug. 19, 1773.

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