Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Charles Thomson, 1 November 1774

From Charles Thomson

ALS: Library of Congress

Novr. 1. 1774


I have the honour to forward to you, the Address to the King and an Address to the people of Great Britain and these colonies.8 I was in hopes by this opportunity to have sent you the Journal of the proceedings of the congress which is in the press.9

I hope administration will see and be convinced that it is not a little faction, but the whole body of American freeholders from Nova Scotia to Georgia that now complain and apply for redress; And who, I am sure, will resist rather than submit.

When I look back and consider the warm affection which the colonists had for Great Britain till the present reign, the untainted loyalty unshaken fidelity and cheerful confidence that universally prevailed till that time, and then view the present heartburnings, Jealousies, gloom and despair, I am ready to ask, with the poet, “Are there not some chosen thunders in the stores of heaven armed with uncommon wrath to blast those Men,” who by their cursed schemes of policy are dragging friends and brothers into the horrors of civil War and involving their country in ruin?1

Even yet the wounds may be healed and peace and love restored; But we are on the very edge of the precipice. I am sir your affectionate Friend and humble Servant

Chas Thomson

To. B. Franklin Esq London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8For the question of which enclosures Thomson sent by the Britannia with his letter of Oct. 26, and which with this, see our note on the former. All the relevant papers were now copied, and went with the present letter by the Mary and Elizabeth, Capt. Falconer. The address to the colonies reviewed the objectionable acts of Parliament since 1763 and the other measures that had gradually revealed a design to impose despotism, and explained why the Congress had determined to resist peacefully through a commercial boycott; if that failed, the choice would be war or submission: Cont. Cong. Jours., I, 90–101. The Mary and Elizabeth arrived at Deal on Dec. 16. London Chron., Dec. 15–17. BF said later that he had the petition about a week before he saw Chatham on Dec. 26: below p. 569. On the 17th Josiah Quincy received from Philadelphia a letter of Nov. 6, which must therefore have come by Falconer, and spent the evening with BF, Lee, and Bancroft. Quincy, Memoir, pp. 198, 273–4. These bits of evidence, put together, convince us that BF had the letter from the Congress, its petition, and its addresses in his hands by the 17th, and met with his friends that evening to discuss them.

9The most that had been published as yet were the Extracts, which we believe Cushing had sent BF; see the note on Thomson’s letter of Oct. 26. The Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress, Held at Philadelphia … (Philadelphia, 1774) was a much fuller record, although it omitted the petition to the King because it had not yet been presented. Three more weeks passed before the Journal was published: Pa. Packet, Nov. 21.


“Oh Portius, is there not some chosen curse,

Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,

Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man

Who owes his greatness to his country’s ruin?”

Addison, Cato, 1:1:21–4.

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