Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Alexander McNutt, 9 April 1782

From Alexander McNutt9

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Salem April. 9th. 1782


Haveing lately done my self the honor of writing to you, and forwarding Sundry Copies of the Constitution of New Ireland, with Several Numbers Adressed to the Peace Makers &c—1 at present I have very little more Interesting to Acquaint you of, but Expect Shortly to have it in my power to write you more fully.

The Occasion of the trouble I give you at present, is to Solicit your Interest in favour of a friend in Mill Prison near Plymouth, his name is Benjamin Brown2 of Salem, State of Massachusetts, Your Order for his release in the next Exchange of Prisoners and any Other Good Offices you Can render him will be most Gratefully Acknowledged and honorably rewarded. I have the Honor to be, with due respect Sir your most Obedient & most humble sevt.

A. M. N

The Honorable Benjamin Franklin Esqr Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of Versaillis

Notation: S. M. N. April 9. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The ambitious land promoter who, in the mid-1760s, had interested BF in a share of a large tract in Nova Scotia (XI, 470n; XII, 20n, 345–50). McNutt persuaded families from both New England and Ireland to join him in settling this property. The British soon disallowed emigration from Ireland, and McNutt’s reputation for making exaggerated claims made dealings difficult with the authorities in Canada. In 1778 he moved to Massachusetts and, representing himself as the leader of a parallel independence movement, urged Congress to involve Nova Scotia in the war. DAB; Arthur W. H. Eaton, “Alexander McNutt, the Colonizer,” Americana, VIII (1913), 1065–87.

1This 1780 publication was listed in a Jan. 8, 1782, inventory of BF’s library: XXXVI, 343. The pamphlet’s full title was The Constitution and Frame of Government of the Free and Independent State of New Ireland. Ostensibly a plan of government for an independent Nova Scotia, it was also an advertisement for emigrants to the new (but as yet unrecognized) nation. Bound with it were McNutt’s three addresses “To the Peace Makers,” those “European Powers, That may be engaged in Settling Terms of Peace, among the Nations at War,” that appeared under the collective title Considerations on the sovereignty, independence, trade and fisheries of New Ireland (formerly known by the name of Nova Scotia). BF’s copies of these, as well as McNutt’s broadside addressed “To the Inhabitants of the State of New Ireland and All Others on Both Sides of the Atlantic, Who Are Interested in the Great and Important Contest Between the Rising Empire of North America and the Island of Great Britain,” are now at the Hist. Soc. of Pa.

2A mariner who was committed to Mill Prison in early July, 1781: Kaminkow, Mariners, p. 25.

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