Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Cushing, 28 January 1775

To Thomas Cushing

AL (draft): American Philosophical Society

London, Jan. 28. 1775


I have been favour’d with yours of Sept. 24. and Oct. 26. from Philada. Nov. 14. and Dec. 5. from Boston, and thank you for the Information communicated.

It gives my Mind some Ease to learn that such good Care is taken both by the General and the Town to prevent Mischief.10 I hope that Care will continue and be effectual. And that People will be persuaded to wait with Patience the Event of the Application of the Congress to the King, and the subsequent Result of the ensuing Congress thereupon.1

Lord Chatham mov’d last Week in the House of Lords that an Address be presented to his Majesty humbly beseeching him to withdraw the Troops from Boston as a Step towards opening the Way to Conciliatory Measures, &c. But after a long and warm Debate, the Motion was rejected by a Majority of 77 to 18, and open Declarations were made by the ministerial Side of the Intention to enforce the late Acts.2 To this End three more Regiments of Foot and one of Dragoons, seven hundred Marines, Six Sloops of War and two Frigates are now under Orders for America.3

Petitions however are thronging into the House from all Quarters, praying that healing Measures may be taken to restore the Commerce.4

The Petition from the Congress was brought into each House among other Papers, by the Ministers, without any particular Recommendation of it [to] Consideration of the House from his Majesty.5

General Gage’s Letters being read in the House of Commons, it appears from one of them, that it had been recommended to him by Lord Dartmouth to disarm some of the Colonies, which he seems to approve if it had been practicable, but says it is not till he is Master of the Country.6

It is impossible to say what Turn the Parliament may take before the Session is over. All depends on the Ministers, who possibly may change their Minds when they find the Merchants and Manufactures universally dissatisfied with their present Conduct: But you cannot rely upon this, and your chief Dependance must be on your own Virtue and Unanimity, which under God, will in time bring you thro’ all Difficulties. I am, with great Respect, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

Thos Cushing Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

10All four of Cushing’s letters have disappeared. That of Nov. 14, soon after his return from the Congress, doubtless carried news of the negotiations between the town and Gage to reduce the likelihood of violence. See Jane Mecom’s letter above, Nov. 3.

1The Congress, as mentioned in the headnote above, Oct. 26, had called for another in May, 1775, unless colonial grievances had by then been redressed. BF assumes that redress will be insufficient to prevent the meeting.

2See the note on Stanhope to BF above, Jan. 21, 1775.

3Out of discussion at three Cabinet meetings, on Jan. 13, 16, and 21, came this decision to send the troops and marines. On the 27th they were ordered to embark immediately from Ireland, and Gage was promised drafts to bring to full strength the regiments he already had. The embarkation was delayed, however, until March. On Jan. 28 the Admiralty informed Boston that six sloops were being fitted out to join the squadron there. Donoughue, British Politics, pp. 221–4; Carter, ed., Gage Correspondence, II, 180, 184; William B. Clark, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution (7 vols. to date, Washington, D.C., 1964—), I, 391. On Feb. 2 the Public Advertiser and London Chron. carried identical announcements that seven sloops, two frigates, and four schooners had been ordered into commission to help enforce the Navigation Acts in America.

4For the London petition see Barclay to BF above, Jan. 12, 1775. It was presented to the House of Commons on the 23rd and deferred for consideration in a committee of the whole; the American papers mentioned in the next paragraph were considered separately. On the 26th a second petition from the same group of merchants protested this separation. Commons Jours., XXXV (1774–76), 71–2, 80; Cobbett, Parliamentary History, XVIII (1774–77), 168–79, 184–93. The second petition was tabled. The first, along with many others of the same tenor from seaports and manufacturing towns, received desultory consideration thereafter in what Burke called the committee “for burying petitions” (ibid., col. 177); but after hearings on March 20 no further action was taken. Commons Jours., XXXV (1774–76), 72–5, 77, 80–3, 86, 90–2, 108, 123, 139, 171, 197, 200, 202, 208–9; Gipson, British Empire, XII, 288–94.

5See BF to Thomson below, Feb. 5.

6The key sentence is quoted in the circular letter to the speakers below, Feb. 5.

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