Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Samuel Rhoads, 5 January 1774

To Samuel Rhoads

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

London, Jan. 5. 1774

Dear Friend,

I received your Favours of Oct. 29 and 31, inclosing the Votes, for which I thank you.

I am much obliged to the Assembly for the repeated Marks of their Confidence in me.1 The Great Officers of State having generally been in the Country, no public Business of consequence has for some time been transacted here. But the Parliament meets next Week, when all will return again to their Stations and the Duty of their Offices, and the Boards resume Business. I do not find that your Laws of last Winter have yet been presented, and the time is now near for carrying your Paper-money Act into Execution. At present I do not see any Difficulty likely to arise upon it, on the Part of the Board of Trade, unless one should be started on the Uncertainty, there being no mention of the Value or kind of the Money to be struck, whether Sterling or Proclamation, or any other. But it being an Act of Pennsylvania, I suppose it is to be understood that the Money will be of the Value of the present Currency of that Province.2 Virginia has lately had a Quantity of Copper-Halfpence struck at the Mint here for their Province. Inclos’d I send you a Specimen of them. They may serve to keep out the worthless counterfeit Trash of late so common.3 With great Esteem and Respect, I am ever, Dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Samuel Rhoads, Esqr

Addressed: To / Saml Rhoads, Esqr / Philadelphia / via N York / per Packet / B Free Franklin

1In reappointing him and, no doubt, in assuming that he was too competent to need instructions: above, XX, 452. Rhoads’s letter of Oct. 31 has been lost.

2For proclamation money, and the reasons behind the ambiguity in the currency act of 1773, see Joseph A. Ernst, Money and Politics in America, 1755–1775 … (Chapel Hill., N.C., [1973]), pp. 23, 314–15. The act was eventually allowed, along with most of the others: above, XX, 340 n.

3The Virginia legislature in 1772 had authorized the purchase of £1,000 in imported copper money. Five tons of halfpence arrived early in 1774, but the coins were not put into circulation until the following year. William W. Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia … (13 vols., Richmond, etc., 1810–23), VIII, 535–6; Mass. Gaz.; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 24, 1774; Va. Gaz. (Purdie), Feb. 24, March 3, 1775. The currency of Virginia and Pennsylvania, in particular, was being impaired by “worthless counterfeit Trash”: Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial America (New York, 1957), pp. 236–57.

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