Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Tuthill Hubbart, 31 March 1774

From Tuthill Hubbart7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston March 31st. 1774

Dear Sir

It’s a long time since I have had the pleasure of line from You, when I wrote You last I forward’d You the Appeal on Husks affair with the Post Office which suppose You received though You have not notticed it.8 When the Ships sail for London I wait till the last in order to send You the latest Papers that I have not wrote you at such times, and indeed I did not think it necessary (except to express my sincere regard) as You have so many correspondents better Qualified to give their Oppinions on the unhappy disputes now subsisting which if not soon settled will I fear be attended with unhappy consequences. I think your last Letter to the Speaker, looks rather with a Mellancholy Aspect.9

By the Paper’s now forwarded, You will see the attack now made on the Post Office, which by all I can learn orriginates with a Mr. Godard, and he says is adopted at the Southward. I cant yet learn what incouragment it meets here, he has proposed a subscription to pay Riders to go from hence to Hartford to receive the Mails and bring them to Boston, to be deliver’d to such Post Master’s as shall be chosen by the Subscribers.

You will see in the Paper’s a Letter said to be addresst to Me and some hints what is expected from me, but if they proceed I imagine they will be more explicit.

They say they cannot with propriety longer submitt to the Act establishing a Post Office in America for the express purpose of raiseing a revenue without their consent.1

Indeed some says that You are threatend with being displaced from the Office2 and they shall have it in their Power to reinstate You and make it equally proffitable to You, doubtless Mr. Foxcroft will write You more particularly on the Subject. Mrs. Mecom and family is well, Mrs. Partridge and Suckey joyns in their affectionate and dutyfull regards3 with Your most Affectionate Nephew

Tuthill Hubbart

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The Boston postmaster, who has appeared often in previous volumes.

8Hubbart’s letter has disappeared; he is referring to some development in the long effort to recover money that his predecessor, Ellis Huske, owed the post office when he died bankrupt in 1755. Above, XI, 338 n.

9BF’s letter to Cushing above, Jan. 5.

1The question of whether the postal service was a precedent for Parliamentary taxation had long been argued, and Americans in general had denied that it was; see the annotation of Temple to Bowdoin above, Feb. 20. Now the argument was gaining ground that postal charges were indeed a tax, and therefore unconstitutional. William Goddard, the Baltimore and Philadelphia printer, was trying to use this argument to create what he called a “constitutional post” to replace the established one; for the development of his scheme up to the time Hubbart wrote see Ward L. Miner, William Goddard, Newspaperman (Durham, N.C., 1962), pp. 113–32. Temple, in the letter just cited, quoted BF as saying that Hubbart would help to establish such a volunteer post; but some Bostonians apparently thought otherwise. We believe that the postmaster enclosed the Boston Gaz., which printed an open letter on March 21 and another on the 28th. The first listed objections, imputedly Hubbart’s, to the new scheme and proceeded to demolish them. The second dealt with the issue of revenue without consent and suggested that “several of the Deputy-Post-Masters”—presumably aimed at Hubbart rather than BF—should have the spirit to resign.

2The Boston Gaz. mentioned this possibility in the issue of March 21, but a month passed before the Boston press announced BF’s dismissal: Mass Gaz.; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, April 21.

3Elizabeth Hubbart Partridge and Susanna Hubbart Bean (“Sukey”) were his sisters. Above, I, lix; Edward W. Day, One Thousand Years of Hubbard History … (New York, [1895]), p. 57.

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