Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Horatio Gates, 7 December 1775

From Horatio Gates

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Head Qrs: 7th: December 1775


I did myself the Pleasure to write you upon Monday by Express. I now inclose to you, a Copy of General Lees Letter lately sent to General Burgoyne which if you approve of it may be publish’d in the News paper.8 I long to send you Lees and my Opinions of the measures to be pursued in Consequence of the Conquest of Canada, that is the Military Measures, somany Solons, cannot but execute to perfection the Civil Ones, we are inform’d, that your Hight Mightynesses are together by the Ears about independentcy, do not immitate the Dog in the Fable, who by snapping at the Shadow, lost the Substance, let Us first Establish’d our Freedom, when that is done, it will be time enough to Wrangle about Forms of Government. Perhaps this moment the Legislature of G. Britain has determined to endeavour to Force Us to a Slavish Dependance. When you hear that, you have only an independant Freedom to resolve upon! Glorious and Successfull as the Continental Arms have been, let us not Tarnish Them, nor by a Timmid Conduct draw down the Vengance of Providence upon our Ingratitude. You want none of this reasoning to stimulate you to Action, can not you inforce it with better of your Own into The Farmer, &c. &c. &c. ?9 I am ever Your Faithfull Humble Servant

Horatio Gates.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Gates’s Monday letter is the preceding document. Charles Lee and Burgoyne were old comrades in arms. Lee had declined Burgoyne’s proposal of a meeting, but they had exchanged letters. The most recent one, to which Gates refers, was of Dec. 1 when Burgoyne was about to return home; Lee urged him to do all in his power to end the war before it forced independence on the Americans and ruin on the British. Lee Papers, I, 222–5. The letter was published in the Pa. Gaz., Dec. 20, 1775.

9Gates’s rhetoric obscures his meaning, but he is clearly urging BF to embolden the timid. John Dickinson, “The Farmer,” was staunchly opposed to independence; see the note on the instructions from the Pa. Assembly above, Nov. 9.

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