Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [John Cadwalader], [January? 1778]

From [John Cadwalader8]

AL (incomplete draft): Historical Society of Pennsylvania

[January, 1778?9]

I am at a Loss to determine whether your absence is an injury or an advantage to your Country. Your Services abroad are essential to our Success, and I wish you to remain there till those grand points now in agitation are carried. I am well convinced that interest and not the love of country, rules mankind in general. Your reflections upon the Inhabitants of other States may be justly applyed to the States of America, and those Evils which have contributed most to enslave other nations are begining to make their appearance here. Dissentions among ourselves are the Evils that every thinking man dreads most. Our own sentiments upon this point so often mentioned in the public papers, I always feared would give hints to our Enemies that if well managed might undermine and ruin where open force would have no effect.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8A prominent and wealthy Philadelphian, who had served with BF on the Pa. committee of safety and was now a brigadier general in the state militia; for his career see the DAB.

9The final sentences, about dissension at home, strongly suggest that he had in mind the Conway Cabal. Immediately after the close of the 1777 campaigns Thomas Conway began his efforts to discredit the Commander in Chief and replace him with Gates; see Freeman, Washington, IV, 586–612. This design soon became known, and on Jan. 18 Col. Tench Tilghman wrote Cadwalader about it in great indignation: PMHB, XXXII (1908), 168–70; we are guessing that that letter was the background of this one. Cadwalader was such a staunch defender of Washington that he subsequently fought a duel with Conway.

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