Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 19 July 1775

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

AL (incomplete) and draft:8 American Philosophical Society

London July 19. 1775

Dear and honoured Sir

Yesterday being the Day appointed by Lord Dartmouth I waited on him, but he having a greater Number of Gentlemen at Levee than he could attend to, I was desired to call again to day: which I accordingly did.

On my entring he said, Mr. Williams I have only to tell you, I have delivered your Petition into the Kings hands, but Things are in such a State, no regular Agent here, and American Matters being wholly under the consideration of Parliament, His Majesty did not answer it. The Petition remains in His Majestys Possesion.9

I returned. Then my Lord I am to say, the Petition was presented, but His Majesty did not condesend an Answer.

He said I would not have you write anything that may make an unfavourable Impression on the Minds of the People of New Jersey. The King could not with propriety give an Answer, and I do not consider my Conversation with you as Oficial. I then Answered My Lord I shall not presume to be an authorised Agent for the Colony, nor as such write an Answer to the Speaker of the House; But I shall do it through Doctor Franklin, and leave the Mode of communication entirely to him.

He said very well, and I retired.

Since I returned from Lord D, I have seen Mr. Lee; who told me he received the first Petition, and Lord D— returned it to him without presenting it.1 I am happy that my Endeavours have been more successfull, though in2 Effect of as little Use. I have however some Satisfaction in having got [it] into the Kings hands altho’ it is unanswered as it leaves a Possibility of its being again taken up for which Reason did ask [for] it again.3

Endorsed: to Doctr Franklin July 19. 1775

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Differences between the two are inconsequential. We print the bulk of the letter from the AL and the remainder from the draft.

9JW received the duplicate of the N.J. petition, enclosed in Kinsey’s letter to BF above, March 26, and assumed that the original had been returned to America with BF’s unopened mail. Earlier in the month, therefore, he tried to deliver the petition to Dartmouth, who made some difficulty about his lack of credentials and asked him to come back. JW to Kinsey, July 12, 1775, APS.

1See the note on the letter, just cited, from Kinsey to BF.

2The AL breaks off at this point.

3A deleted sentence in the draft clarifies the meaning: “I did not think proper to demand it again as remaining with his Majesty it may be again taken up tho’ I think there can be no probability that it will.” It apparently was not. At the end of the year the N.J. Assembly appointed Dennis DeBerdt, Jr., as agent and instructed him to try to get an answer to the petition. Force, 4 Amer. Arch., III, 1855, 1864–5. We have no evidence that he succeeded.

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