Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 5–7 February 1775

To Joseph Galloway

ALS: Clements Library, University of Michigan

London Feb 5[–7]. 1775.

Dear Sir

I received duly your respected Favours of Oct. 27 and Nov. 1 with Bills for five hundred Pounds Bulkeley on Whitmore; I thank you much for your Care in so speedy a Remittance. I hope you will excuse the Trouble I have given you in previously drawing for that Sum: and be assured that the Bills which I provisionaly desired you to draw on me (or in my Absence on Browns & Collinson) to put you in Cash for paying my Drafts, will meet with due Honour.4

I cannot but lament with you the impending Calamities Britain and her Colonies are about to suffer, from great Imprudencies on both Sides. Those arising there, are more in your View; these here, which I assure you are very great, in mine. Passion governs, and she never governs wisely. What we can’t remedy we must endeavour to bear. But I find it to me more and more difficult. Anxiety begins to disturb my Rest; and whatever robs an old Man of his Sleep, soon demolishes him. I have however generally strong Hopes amounting almost to an Assurance, that tho’ we may suffer much for a while, America will finaly be greatly benefited by her present Difficulties, and rise superior to them all.

I communicated your Plan of Union to Lord Camden soon after I received it, and to Lord Chatham last Week. They seem’d to think the Idea ingenious, but the Mode so new as to require much attentive Thought before a Judgment of it could be form’d. From something dropt by Lord Gower the other Day in the House of Lords, accusing the Congress sharply of rejecting a Plan of Union with Britain, after it had been received, and ordering the Vote for receiving it to be erased out of their Minutes, I imagine the Ministry are in possession of it;5 if on Enquiry I find they are not, I shall communicate it to them, as possibly it may bring on some Negociation and stay their Hands from Blood; of which I grieve to say there is but little Prospect. For every thing is hurried with inconceivable Precipitation, and every thing rejected immediately, the Consideration of which might occasion Delay. Thus the Commons would not hear the Merchants support their Petition in the same Committee that was to consider the State of America; nor would they suffer us to be heard in support of the Petition from the Congress; nor would the Lords take into Consideration Lord Chathams Plan, but dismiss’d it upon a slight first Reading.6 With the greatest Esteem and Respect I am ever, my dear Friend Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

By Read who sails in about a Week I shall give you my Thoughts on the Plan. I inclose Lord Chathams.7

P.S.  Feb. 7. By Information just receiv’d from good Hands, there is reason to believe, that the Troops will have Orders to act on the Defensive only, to avoid Bloodshed: That they are intended chiefly to intimidate;8 the Ministry depending most on dividing America; and on our Want of Perseverance in complying with the Agreement recommended by the Congress. All our Friends here are of Opinion that if we are steady till another Session, this Ministry must retire, and our Points will be gained.

Joseph Galloway Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Bulkeley was probably the Richard Bulkeley, ship captain and part owner, mentioned in PMHB, XXVIII (1904), 234, and Pa. Gaz., Dec. 7, 1774, and Whitmore the merchant who appears above, XIX, 152. The transactions described in this paragraph were connected, we assume, with BF’s recent dealings with Thomas Foulger discussed in the headnote on Wilcox to BF above, Dec. 17. One of the drafts that Foulger took with him, on Galloway for £500 against the salary due BF as agent (Jour., p. 57), must have crossed Galloway’s payment. BF had presumably foreseen this contingency, and told Galloway in a missing letter that he had deposited covering funds with Browns & Collinson. The change of name from Brown & Collinson first appeared in Kent’s Directory in 1769, but other directories retained the earlier form as late as 1774. See F. G. Hilton Price, A Handbook of London Bankers … (London, 1876), p. 165.

5BF’s assumption was well grounded, for Earl Gower was lord president of the council. The ministry had learned of the episode in letters to Dartmouth from WF and Cadwallader Colden, which had arrived by Jan. 7: 1 N.J. Arch., X, 504, 535. Galloway’s famous plan of union was presented to the Continental Congress on Sept. 28; the next day consideration of it was postponed, and in October it was rejected and all mention of it expunged from the minutes. It proposed to retain the constitutions of the several colonies and make them independent of the mother country in internal affairs, but subject to an intercolonial government consisting of a president general, appointed by the crown, and a council elected by the colonial legislatures and possessing the rights and privileges of the House of Commons. This government, an inferior and distinct branch of Parliament, would be responsible for regulating intercolonial affairs; all legislation bearing on those affairs, except for raising revenue in time of war, would require its consent and that of Parliament. See Julian P. Boyd, Anglo-American Union: Joseph Galloway’s Plans to Preserve the British Empire, 1774–1788 (Philadelphia, 1941), especially pp. 34–8, 112–14; Benjamin H. Newcomb, Franklin and Galloway: a Political Partnership (New Haven and London, 1972), pp. 245–57.

6For the merchants’ petition see BF to Cushing above, Jan. 28, 1775; for BF’s attempt to support the petition from the Congress, and the Lords’ handling of Chatham’s plan, see BF to Thomson below, Feb. 5.

7The enclosure is missing. The Aurora, Capt. Reed, sailed on the 21st (London Chron., Feb. 23–25) without BF’s promised letter, which is below, Feb. 25.

8The information was erroneous. Dartmouth’s crucial letter of Jan. 27 said nothing about a defensive, but urged Gage to stir himself and arrest rebel leaders. Carter, ed., Gage Correspondence, II, 179–83. The General’s response was the march to Concord.

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