Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1756: CXXIX: COMMISSION FROM LIEUT.-GOVERNOR MORRIS - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
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1756: CXXIX: COMMISSION FROM LIEUT.-GOVERNOR MORRIS - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. III (Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763).
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COMMISSION FROM LIEUT.-GOVERNOR MORRIS
The Honorable Robert Hunter Morris, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor, and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania, and Counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, to Benjamin Franklin.
I do hereby authorize and empower you to take into your charge the County of Northampton, to dismiss all persons who have been commissioned by me to any military command, and to put others into their places; and to fill up the blank commissions herewith delivered, with the names of such persons as you shall judge fit for his Majesty’s service; hereby ratifying all your acts and proceedings, done in virtue of this power; and approving the expenses accruing thereupon. And I do further order and enjoin all officers and soldiers to yield obedience to you in the execution of this power, and all magistrates, sheriffs, and others, in any kind of civil authority, and all his Majesty’s liege subjects, to be aiding and assisting you in the premises. Given under my hand and seal, at Reading, this 5th day of January, 1756.1
Robert H. Morris.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Bethlehem, 15 January, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
We move this day for Gnadenhutten. If you have not cash sufficient, call upon Mr. Moore, the treasurer, with that order of the Assembly and desire him to pay you one hundred pounds of it. If he has not cash on hand, Mr. Norris (to whom my respects) will advance it for him. We shall have with us about one hundred and thirty men, and shall endeavour to act cautiously, so as to give the enemy no advantage through our negligence. Make yourself therefore easy. Give my hearty love to all friends. I hope in a fortnight or three weeks, God willing, to see the intended line of forts finished, and then I shall make a trip to Philadelphia, and send away the lottery tickets, and pay off the prizes, though you may pay such as come to hand of those sold in Philadelphia of my signing. They were but few, the most being sold abroad; and those that sold them and received the money will pay off the prizes. I hope you have paid Mrs. Stephens for the bills. I am, my dear child, your loving husband,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Gnadenhutten, 25 January, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
This day week we arrived here. I wrote to you the same day, and once since. We all continue well, thanks be to God. We have been hindered with bad weather, yet our fort is in a good defensible condition, and we have every day more convenient living. Two more are to be built, one on each side of this, at about fifteen miles’ distance. I hope both will be done in a week or ten days, and then I purpose to bend my course homewards.
We have enjoyed your roast beef, and this day began on the roast veal. All agree that they are both the best that ever were of the kind. Your citizens, that have their dinners hot and hot, know nothing of good eating. We find it in much greater perfection when the kitchen is four score miles from the dining room.
The apples are extremely welcome, and do bravely to eat after our salt pork; the minced pies are not yet come to hand, but I suppose we shall find them among the things expected up from Bethlehem on Tuesday; the capillaire is excellent, but, none of us having taken cold as yet, we have only tasted it.
As to our lodging, it is on deal featherbeds, in warm blankets, and much more comfortable than when we lodged at our inn the first night after we left home; for, the woman being about to put very damp sheets on the bed, we desired her to air them first; half an hour afterwards she told us the bed was ready, and the sheets well aired. I got into bed, but jumped out immediately, finding them as cold as death, and partly frozen. She had aired them indeed, but it was out upon the hedge. I was forced to wrap myself up in my great coat and woollen trowsers. Every thing else about the bed was shockingly dirty.
As I hope in a little time to be with you and my family, and chat things over, I now only add that I am, dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
TO A FRIEND1
Gnadenhutten, 25 January, 1756.
We got to Hays’s the same evening we left you, and reviewed Craig’s company by the way. Much of the next morning was spent in exchanging the bad arms for the good. Wayne’s company having joined us, we that night reached Uplinger’s, where we got into good quarters, and Saturday morning we began to march towards Gnadenhutten, and proceeded nearly two miles; but it seeming to set in for a rainy day, the men unprovided with great coats, and many unable to secure effectually their arms from the wet, we thought it advisable to face about, and return to our former quarters, where the men might dry themselves and lie warm; whereas, had they proceeded, they would have come in wet to Gnadenhutten, where shelter and opportunity of drying themselves that night were uncertain. In fact, it rained all day, and we were all pleased that we had not proceeded.
The next day, being Sunday, we marched hither, where we arrived about two o’clock in the afternoon, and before five had enclosed our camp with a strong breastwork musket-proof; and, with the boards brought here before by my order from Dunker’s Mill, we got ourselves under some shelter from the weather. Monday was so dark, with a thick fog all day, that we could neither look out for a place to build, nor see where materials were to be had. Tuesday morning we looked around us, pitched on a place, and marked out our fort on the ground. By three in the afternoon the logs were all cut, and many of them hauled to the spot, the ditch dug to set them in three feet deep, and many were pointed and set up. The next day we were hindered by rain most of the day. Thursday we resumed our work, and before night were perfectly well enclosed; and on Friday morning, the stockade was finished and part of the platform within erected, which was completed next morning, when we dismissed Foulke’s and Wetherhold’s companies, and sent Hays down for a convoy of provisions. This day we hoisted the flag, made a general discharge of our pieces, which had been long loaded, and of our two swivels, and named the place Fort Allen in honor of our old friend. It is one hundred and twenty-five feet long, and fifty wide; the stockades most of them a foot thick, three feet in the ground and twelve feet out, pointed at the top.
This is an account of our week’s work, which I thought might give you some satisfaction. Foulke is gone to build another fort between this and Schuylkill fort, which I hope will be finished (as Trexler is to join him) in a week or ten days, as soon as Hays returns. I shall detach another party to erect another at Surfass’s, which I hope may be finished in the same time, and then I suppose end my campaign, God willing, and do myself the pleasure of seeing you on my return. I can now add no more than that I am with great esteem and affection, &c.,
TO ROBERT HUNTER MORRIS, GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA
Gnadenhutten, 26 January, 1756.
We left Bethlehem the 16th instant, with Foulke’s company forty-six men, the detachment of McLaughlin’s twenty, and seven wagons laden with stores and provisions. We got that night to Hays’s quarters, where Wayne’s company joined us from Nazareth. The next day we marched cautiously through the gap of the mountain, a very dangerous pass, and got to Uplinger’s, twenty-one miles from Bethlehem, the roads being bad and the wagons moving slowly.
This present Monday we are erecting a third house in the fort to accommodate the garrison. As soon as Captain Hays returns with the convoy of stores and provisions, which I hope may be to-morrow, I purpose to send Arndt and Hays to join Captain Trump in erecting the middle fort there, purposing to remain here between them and Foulke, ready to assist and supply both, as occasion may require; and I hope in a week or ten days, weather favoring, that those two forts may be finished, the line of forts completed and garrisoned, the rangers in motion, and the intermediate guards and watches disbanded, unless they are permitted and encouraged to go after the enemy to the Susquehanna.
At present the expense in this county is prodigious. We have on foot and in pay the following companies, viz.: Trump’s, consisting of fifty men; Aston’s, fifty; Wayne’s, fifty-five; Foulke’s, forty-six; Trexler’s, forty-eight; and Wetherhold’s, forty-four—without the Fork; Arndt’s, fifty; Craig’s, thirty; and Martin’s, thirty—in the Irish settlements; Van Elten’s, thirty—at Minisink; Hays’s, forty-five; detachment of McLaughlin’s, twenty; Parsons’s, twenty-four—at Easton; total, five hundred and twenty-two.
This, Sir, is a particular account of our transactions, and the present state of affairs in this county. I am glad to learn, by your favor of the 21st, just received, that you have thoughts of coming to Bethlehem, as I may hope for an opportunity of waiting upon your Honor there, after our works are finished, and of communicating every thing more fully. I now only add, that I am, with dutiful respect, Sir, &c.,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Gnadenhutten, 30 January, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
Every other day, since we have been here, it has rained, more or less, to our no small hindrance. It rained yesterday, and now again today, which prevented our marching; so I will sit down half an hour to confer a little with you.
All the things you sent me, from time to time, are safely come to hand, and our living grows every day more comfortable; yet there are many things we still want, but do not send for them, as we hope our stay here will not be long.
I thought to have wrote you a long letter, but here comes in a number of people from different parts, that have business with me, and interrupt me; we have but one room, and that quite public; so I can only add, that I have just received yours, Sally’s, and Grace’s letters, of the 25th, with one from Mr. Hughes, and one from Mr. Thomson. Present my respects to those gentlemen (and excuse my not writing, as I have nothing material, and am much hurried), and love to all our friends and neighbours. Billy presents his duty to you, and love to his sister; all the gentlemen their compliments; they drink your health at every meal, having always something on the table to put them in mind of you.
I found, among the newspapers, Mr. Shoen’s bills of exchange, which should not have been sent up here; I suppose it was by mistake, and mention it, that you need not be troubled to look more for them.
I am, dear girl, your loving husband,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
31 January, 1756.
I wrote a line to you yesterday, and, having this opportunity, write another, just to let you know that we all continue well, and much the better for the refreshments you have sent us; in short, we do very well; for, though there are a great number of things, besides what we have, that used to seem necessary to comfortable living, yet we have learned to do without them.
Mr. Beatty is a very useful man here, and the Doctor another. Besides their services to the public, they are very agreeable companions to me. They, with Captain Clapham, Mr. Edmond, and the rest of our company, present their hearty respects to you for the goodies. Billy presents his duty to you and his grandmother, and love to his sister. Distribute my compliments among our acquaintance, and hearty love to all friends. The bearer waits, so that I cannot write to my dear Sally. I am, dear girl, your loving husband,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
Philadelphia, 12 February, 1756.
I condole with you on the loss of our dear brother.1 As our number grows less, let us love one another proportionably more.
I am just returned from my military expedition, and now my time is taken up in the Assembly. Providence seems to require various duties of me. I know not what will be next; but I find, the more I seek for leisure and retirement from business, the more I am engaged in it. Benny, I understand, inclines to leave Antigua. He may be in the right. I have no objection. My love to brother and to your children. I am, dearest sister, your affectionate brother,
TO MISS E. HUBBARD2
Philadelphia, 23 February, 1756.
— I condole with you. We have lost a most dear and valuable relation. But it is the will of God and nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside when the soul is to enter into real life. This is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living. A man is not completely born until he be dead. Why then should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals, a new member added to their happy society?
We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or in doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes, and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an incumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves, in some cases, prudently choose a partial death. A mangled painful limb which cannot be restored we willingly cut off. He who plucks out a tooth parts with it freely, since the pain goes with it; and he who quits the whole body, parts at once with all pains and possibilities of pains and diseases which it was liable to or capable of making him suffer.
Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last for ever. His chair was ready first, and he is gone before us. We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him? Adieu.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Fredericktown, Virginia, 21 March, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
We got here yesterday afternoon, and purpose sailing to-day if the wind be fair. Peter was taken ill with a fever and pain in his side before I got to Newcastle. I had him bled there, and put him into the chair wrapped up warm, as he could not bear the motion of the horse, and got him here pretty comfortably. He went immediately to bed, and took some camomile tea, and this morning is about again and almost well. I leave my horses at Mr. Milliken’s, a gentleman that lives on Bohemia River.
Among the government orders I left with you, are two written ones drawn on Mr. Charles Norris for considerable sums. You did not tell me, when I asked you, what money you had in hand. If you want before my return, present one of those orders to Mr. Norris, and he will pay the whole or a part, as you have occasion. Billy will also pay you some money, which I did not care to take with me from Newcastle. Be careful of your accounts, particularly about the lottery affairs. My duty to mother, and love to Sally, Debby, Gracy, &c., not forgetting the Goody. Desire Dr. Bond to send me some of those pills by post. I forgot to take any with me. Let Mr. Parker know I received the money he sent me on the post-office and money-paper accounts. I forgot to write it to him, though I fully intended it. If there is peace I shall probably not come home so soon as I purposed to do in case the ships from England bring a declaration of war, or in case the uncertainty continues. I am, my dear child, your loving husband,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Williamsburg, 30 March, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
I wrote to you viâ New York the day after my arrival, acquainting you that I had a fine journey and passage down the Bay, being but four days from Philadelphia to Colonel Hunter’s, though stopped near a day on the road.1 I have been well ever since, quite clear of the dizziness I complained of, and as gay as a bird, not beginning yet to long for home, the worry of perpetual business being yet fresh in my memory. Mr. Hunter is much better than I expected to find him, and we are daily employed in settling our affairs. About the end of the week we are to take a tour into the country. Virginia is a pleasant country, now in full spring; the people obliging and polite. I shall return in the man-of-war to New York with Colonel Hunter and his lady; at least, this is proposed; but, if a more convenient opportunity offers, perhaps I may not stay so long as the end of the next month, when that ship is to sail. I am, my dear Debby, your loving husband,
TO JOSEPH HUEY
Philadelphia, 6 June, 1756.2
I received your kind letter of the 2d inst., and am glad to hear that you increase in strength. I hope you will continue mending till you recover your former health and firmness. Let me know if you still use the cold bath, and what effect it has.
As to the kindness you mention, I wish it could have been of more service to you. But if it had, the only thanks I should desire is, that you would always be equally ready to serve any other person that may need your assistance, and so let good offices go round, for mankind are all of a family.
For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favours, but as paying debts. In my travels and since my settlement I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return, and numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. These kindnesses from men I can therefore only return on their fellow-men; and I can only show my gratitude for those mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments tho’ repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator.
You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting (as you suppose) that I shall ever merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such reward. He that for giving a draught of water to a thirsty person should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world are rather from God’s goodness than our merit; how much more such happiness of heaven. For my own part, I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who hitherto preserv’d and bless’d me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will never make me miserable, and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit.
The faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world; I do not desire it to be diminished, nor would I endeavour to lessen it in any man. But I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and publick spirit; not holiday-keeping, sermon reading or hearing, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments,—despis’d even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity. The worship of God is a duty, the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself in being water’d and putting forth leaves, tho’ it never produc’d any fruit.
Your great Master tho’t much less of these outward appearances and professions than many of the modern disciples. He preferr’d the doers of the word to the mere hearers; the Son that seemingly refus’d to obey his father and yet perform’d his command, to him that profess’d his readiness but neglected the work; the heretical but charitable Samaritan, to the uncharitable tho’ orthodox priest and sanctified Levite; and those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and relief to the sick, &c., tho’ they never heard of his name, he declares shall in the last day be accepted, when those who cry Lord, Lord, who value themselves on their faith, tho’ great enough to perform miracles, but have neglected good works, shall be rejected, he professed that he came not to call the righetous but sinners to repentance; which imply’d his modest opinion that there were some in His time so good that they need not hear even him for improvement; but nowadays we have scarce a little parson, that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petty ministrations, and that whoever omits them1 [all the rest of this letter is torn out.]
[On the back of this letter is the following endorsement.]
In writing to his brother, August 6, 1747, Franklin says: “I am glad to hear that Mr. Whitefield is safe arrived, and recovered his health. He is a good man, and I love him.”
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
New York, 28 June, 1756.
I received here your letter of extravagant thanks, which puts me in mind of the story of the member of Parliament, who began one of his speeches with saying he thanked God that he was born and bred a Presbyterian; on which another took leave to observe, that the gentleman must needs be of a most grateful disposition, since he was thankful for such very small matters.
You desire me to tell you what I know about Benny’s removal, and the reasons of it. Some time last year, when I returned from a long journey, I found a letter from him, which had been some time unanswered, and it was some considerable time afterwards before I knew of an opportunity to send an answer. I should first have told you, that when I set him up at Antigua, he was to have the use of the printing-house on the same terms with his predecessor, Mr. Smith; that is, allowing me one third part of the profits. After this, finding him diligent and careful, for his encouragement, I relinquished that agreement, and let him know, that as you were removed into a dearer house, if he paid you yearly a certain sum, I forget what it was, towards discharging your rent, and another small sum to me, in sugar and rum for my family use, he need keep no farther accounts of the profits, but should enjoy all the rest himself. I cannot remember what the whole of both payments amounted to, but I think they did not exceed twenty pounds a year.
The truth is, I intended, from the first, to give him that printing-house; but as he was young and inexperienced in the world, I thought it best not to do it immediately, but to keep him a little dependent for a time, to check the flighty unsteadiness of temper, which, on several occasions, he had discovered; and what I received from him, I concluded to lay out in new letters (or types), that, when I should give it to him entirely, it might be worth his acceptance; and if I should die first, I put it in my will, that the letters should be all new cast for him.
This proposal of paying you and me a certain annual sum did not please him; and he wrote to desire I would explicitly tell him how long that annual payment was to continue; whether, on payment of that, all prior demands I had against him, for the arrears of our first agreement, were likewise cancelled; and finally insisted, that I would name a certain sum that I would take for the printing-house, and allow him to pay it off in parts as he could, and then the yearly payments to cease; for, though he had a high esteem for me, yet he loved freedom, and his spirit could not bear dependence on any man, though he were the best man living.
This was the letter, which casually remained, as I said, so long unanswered; at which he took farther offence; and before I could answer it, I received another from him, acquainting me that he had come to a resolution to remove from the Island; that his resolution was fixed, and nothing that could be said to him should move or shake it; and he proposed another person to me, to carry on the business in his room. This was immediately followed by another and a third letter, to the same purpose, all declaring the inflexibility of his determination to leave the Island, but without saying where he proposed to go, or what were his motives. So I wrote him, that I would not attempt to change his resolutions; that I made no objections to his quitting, but wished he had let me know where he was going; that, as to the person he recommended to succeed him, I had kept the office there after Mr. Smith’s decease, in hopes it might be of use to him (Benny). I did not incline to be concerned with any other there. However, if the person would buy it, I named the price; if not, I directed it to be packed up and sent home. All I desired of him was to discharge what he owed to Mr. Strahan, bookseller in London, one of my friends, who had credited him on my recommendation.
By this post I received the enclosed letter, and understand the things are all arrived. I shall be very glad to hear he does better in another place, but I fear he will not for some years be cured of his fickleness, and get fixed to any purpose; however, we must hope for the best, as with this fault he has many good qualities and virtues.
My love to brother and children, and to all that love you. I am, dear sister, your affectionate brother,
TO WILLIAM PARSONS
New York, June 28, 1756.
I have received here your favor of the 19th instant, with a copy of your remarks on reviewing the forts, for which I am much obliged to you; and I hope the governor and commissioners will immediately take the necessary measures to remedy every thing that you find amiss. I think you hazarded yourself with too small escorts, and am glad you got safe through. It appears plainly that it will be of great use to review the forts frequently. The expense must be inconsiderable compared to the advantages and security that may be derived from it.
Great part of the British regiments are arrived here. The men are all in health, and look exceedingly well. What will be undertaken this summer is, I believe, unknown, or uncertain till the general’s arrival. Some of the officers think this year will be chiefly spent in preparation for the next. Others imagine there will be an accommodation. For my part, I can make no judgment. This only I can plainly see, that New York is growing immensely rich by money brought into it from all quarters for the pay and subsistence of the troops. General Shirley, it is said, is to go home in the same ship that brings Lord Loudoun, and to be made one of the Lords of Trade. The Indians continue to scalp now and then a man too close to Albany, Oswego, and the camps. The New England forces are not yet complete. Those colonies have overdone themselves, and undertaken too much; more than they are able to bear or perform.
With great esteem, I am, dear friend, affectionately yours,
TO GEO. WHITEFIELD
New York, July 2, 1756.
I received your favour of the 24th of February with great pleasure, as it informed me of your welfare, and expressed your continued regard for me. I thank you for the pamphlet you enclosed to me.1 As we have just observed a provincial fast on the same occasion, I thought it very seasonable to be published in Pennsylvania; and accordingly reprinted it immediately.
You mention your frequent wish that you were a chaplain to the American army. I sometimes wish that you and I were jointly employed by the crown to settle a colony on the Ohio. I imagine that we could do it effectually, and without putting the nation to much expense; but I fear we shall never be called upon for such a service. What a glorious thing it would be to settle in that fine country a large, strong body of religious and industrious people! What a security to the other colonies and advantage to Britain, by increasing her people, territory, strength, and commerce! Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders?—the most vicious and abandoned wretches of our nation! Life, like a dramatic piece, should not only be conducted with regularity, but, methinks, it should finish handsomely. Being now in the last act, I begin to cast about for something fit to end with. Or, if mine be more properly compared to an epigram, as some of its lines are but barely tolerable, I am very desirous of concluding with a bright point. In such an enterprise, I could spend the remainder of life with pleasure; and I firmly believe God would bless us with success, if we undertook it with a sincere regard to His honour, the service of our gracious king, and (which is the same thing) the public good.
I thank you cordially for your generous benefactions to the German schools. They go on pretty well; and will do better, when Mr. Smith, who has at present the principal charge of them, shall learn to mind party-writing and party politics less, and his proper business more; which, I hope, time will bring about.
I thank you for your good wishes and prayers; and am, with greatest esteem and affection, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
My best respects to Mrs. Whitefield.
TO THOMAS POWNALL1
Philadelphia, 19 August, 1756.
I have done myself the honor to write you twice since my return, relating to the proposed road; but have as yet had no line from you.
Enclosed I send you a copy of the late treaty, or conference, at Easton, with a letter from Bishop Spangenberg to Mr. Norris, by which you will see nothing is likely to come of the treaty. The Indians are preparing to continue the war, and we see of how little consequence Sir William Johnson’s treaty has been in our behalf. For my own part, I make no doubt but the Six Nations have privily encouraged these Indians to fall upon us. They have taken no step to defend us, as their allies, nor to prevent the mischief done us. I look upon the application made through Sir William Johnson to these nations to procure us peace, as the most unfortunate step we ever took; for we tied up the hands of our people, till we heard the result of that application. The affair was drawn out to great length of time, and in the mean while our frontier people were continually butchered, and at last either dispersed or dispirited. In short, I do not believe we shall ever have a firm peace with the Indians till we have well drubbed them.
Our frontiers are greatly distressed, as you will see by the enclosed letters. The people are also distressed by the enlisting of their servants; but, if Lord Loudoun would order the recruits, now near five hundred, to march up and take post on the frontiers, in the forts there, where they would find good barracks, and would be of great use to the inhabitants, it would be a most acceptable thing to the whole province. In this Mr. Norris joins with me, as well as in compliments to his Lordship and yourself.
The Assembly are met, and in a very good disposition toward the service; but, the new governor being hourly expected, nothing can be done till his arrival. He is, we hear, on the road from York. I am, Sir, &c.,
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON1
Philadelphia, 19 August, 1756.
I have your favors of July 23d and August 3d, but that you mention to have wrote by Mr. Balfour is not come to hand. I forwarded the packet enclosed in that of July 23d, as directed, and shall readily take care of any other letters from you, that pass through my hands. The post, between this place and Winchester, was established for the accommodation of the army chiefly, by a vote of our Assembly. They are not willing to continue the charge, and it must, I believe, be dropped, unless your Assembly and that of Maryland will contribute to support it, which, perhaps, is scarce to be expected.
I am sorry it should be laid down, as I shall myself be a loser in the affair of newspapers.2 But the letters per post by no means defray the expense. If you can prevail with your Assembly to pay the rider from Winchester to Carlisle, I will endeavour to persuade ours to continue paying the rider from Carlisle hither. My agreement with the house was, to carry all public despatches gratis, to keep account of postage received for private letters, and charge the expense of riders and offices; and they were to pay the balance. I am, Sir, with great esteem and respect, &c.,
P. S.—We have just received news that the Delaware Indians, with whom we treated lately at Easton, have burnt the goods they received as presents, and resolved to continue the war.1
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Easton, 13 November, 1756.
My Dear Child:—
I wrote to you a few days since by a special messenger, and enclosed letters for all our wives and sweethearts; expecting to hear from you by his return, and to have the northern newspapers and English letters per the packet; but he is just now returned without a scrap for poor us. So I had a good mind not to write to you by this opportunity; but I never can be ill natured enough even when there is the most occasion. The messenger says he left the letters at your house, and saw you afterwards at Mr. Duché’s, and told you when he would go, and that he lodged at Honey’s, next door to you, and yet you did not write; so let Goody Smith give one more just judgment, and say what should be done to you. I think I won’t tell you that we are well, nor that we expect to return about the middle of the week, nor will I send you a word of news; that ’s poz.
My duty to mother, love to the children, and to Miss Betsey and Gracy, &c., &c. I am your loving husband,
P. S.—I have scratched out the loving words, being writ in haste by mistake, when I forgot I was angry.1
TO EDWARD AND JANE MECOM
Philadelphia, 30 December, 1756.
Dear Brother and Sister:—
You will receive this by the hand of your son Benjamin, on whose safe return from the West Indies I sincerely congratulate you.
He has settled accounts with me, and paid the balance honorably. He has also cleared the old printing-house to himself, and sent it to Boston, where he purposes to set up his business, together with bookselling, which, considering his industry and frugality, I make no doubt will answer. He has good credit and some money in England, and I have helped him by lending him a little more; so that he may expect a cargo of books, and a quantity of new letter, in the spring; and I shall from time to time furnish him with paper. We all join in love to you and yours. I am your loving brother,
The great country back of the Appalachian Mountains, on both sides of the Ohio, and between that river and the Lakes, is now well known, both to the English and French, to be one of the finest in North America, for the extreme richness and fertility of the land, the healthy temperature of the air, and mildness of the climate; the plenty of hunting, fishing, and fowling; the facility of trade with the Indians, and the vast convenience of inland navigation or water-carriage by the Lakes and great rivers, many hundreds of leagues around.
From these natural advantages it must undoubtedly (perhaps in less than another century) become a populous and powerful dominion1 ; and a great accession of power either to England or France.
The French are now making open encroachments on those territories, in defiance of our known rights; and, if we longer delay to settle that country, and suffer them to possess it, these inconveniences and mischiefs will probably follow:
1. Our people, being confined to the country between the sea and the mountains, cannot much more increase in number, people increasing in proportion to their room and means of subsistence.
2. The French will increase much more, by that acquired room and plenty of subsistence, and become a great people behind us.
3. Many of our debtors and loose English people, our German servants, and slaves, will probably desert to them, and increase their numbers and strength, to the lessening and weakening of ours.
4. They will cut us off from all commerce and alliance with the western Indians, to the great prejudice of Britain, by preventing the sale and consumption of its manufactures.
5. They will both in time of peace and war (as they have always done against New England) set the Indians on to harass our frontiers, kill and scalp our people, and drive in the advanced settlers; and so, in preventing our obtaining more subsistence by cultivating of new lands, they discourage our marriages, and keep our people from increasing; thus (if the expression may be allowed) killing thousands of our children before they are born.
If two strong colonies of English were settled between the Ohio and Lake Erie, in the places hereafter to be mentioned, these advantages might be expected:
1. They would be a great security to the frontiers of our other colonies, by preventing the incursions of the French and French Indians of Canada, on the back parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas; and the frontiers of such new colonies would be much more easily defended, than those of the colonies last mentioned now can be, as will appear hereafter.
2. The dreaded junction of the French settlements in Canada with those of Louisiana would be prevented.
3. In case of a war, it would be easy, from those new colonies, to annoy Louisiana, by going down the Ohio and Mississippi; and the southern part of Canada, by sailing over the Lakes, and thereby confine the French within narrow limits.
4. We could secure the friendship and trade of the Miamis or Twigtwees (a numerous people consisting of many tribes, inhabiting the country between the west end of Lake Erie, and the south end of Lake Huron, and the Ohio), who are at present dissatisfied with the French and fond of the English, and would gladly encourage and protect an infant English settlement in or near their country, as some of their chiefs have declared to the writer of this memoir. Further, by means of the Lakes, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, our trade might be extended through a vast country, among many numerous and distant nations, greatly to the benefit of Britain.
5. The settlement of all the intermediate lands, between the present frontiers of our colonies on one side, and the Lakes and Mississippi on the other, would be facilitated and speedily executed, to the great increase of Englishmen, English trade, and English power.
The grants to most of the colonies are of long, narrow slips of land, extending west from the Atlantic to the South Sea. They are much too long for their breadth; the extremes at too great a distance; and therefore unfit to be continued under their present dimensions.
Several of the old colonies may conveniently be limited westward by the Allegany or Appalachian mountains, and new colonies formed west of those mountains.
A single old colony does not seem strong enough to extend itself otherwise than inch by inch. It cannot venture a settlement far distant from the main body, being unable to support it; but if the colonies were united under one governor-general and grand council, agreeably to the Albany plan, they might easily, by their joint force, establish one or more new colonies, whenever they should judge it necessary or advantageous to the interest of the whole.
But if such union should not take place, it is proposed that two charters be granted, each for some considerable part of the lands west of Pennsylvania and the Virginia mountains, to a number of the nobility and gentry of Britain; with such Americans as shall join them in contributing to the settlement of those lands, either by paying a proportion of the expense of making such settlements, or by actually going thither in person, and settling themselves and families.
That by such charters it be granted that every actual settler be entitled to a tract of —— acres for himself, and —— acres for every poll in the family he carries with him; and that every contributor of —— guineas be entitled to a quantity of acres, equal to the share of a single settler, for every such sum of guineas contributed and paid to the colony treasurer; a contributor for —— shares to have an additional share gratis; that settlers may likewise be contributors, and have right of land in both capacities.
That as many and as great privileges and powers of government be granted to the contributors and settlers, as his Majesty in his wisdom shall think most fit for their benefit and encouragement, consistent with the general good of the British empire; for extraordinary privileges and liberties, with lands on easy terms, are strong inducements to people to hazard their persons and fortunes in settling new countries. And such powers of government as (though suitable to their circumstances, and fit to be trusted with an infant colony) might be judged unfit when it becomes populous and powerful, these might be granted for a term only; as the choice of their own governor for ninety-nine years; the support of government in the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island (which now enjoy that and other like privileges) being much less expensive than in the colonies under the immediate government of the crown, and the constitution more inviting.
That the first contributors to the amount of —— guineas be empowered to choose a treasurer to receive the contribution.
That no contributions be paid till the sum of —— thousand guineas be subscribed.
That the money thus raised be applied to the purchase of the lands from the Six Nations and other Indians, and of provisions, stores, arms, ammunition, carriages, &c., for the settlers, who, after having entered their names with the treasurer, or person by him appointed to receive and enter them, are, upon public notice given for that purpose, to rendezvous at a place to be appointed, and march in a body to the place destined for their settlement, under the charge of the government to be established over them. Such rendezvous and march, however, not to be directed till the number of names of settlers entered, capable of bearing arms, amount at least to —— thousand.
It is apprehended that a great sum of money might be raised in America on such a scheme as this; for there are many who would be glad of any opportunity, by advancing a small sum at present, to secure land for their children, which might in a few years become very valuable; and a great number, it is thought, of actual settlers might likewise be engaged (some from each of our present colonies), sufficient to carry it into full execution by their strength and numbers; provided only, that the crown would be at the expense of removing the little forts the French have erected in their encroachments on his Majesty’s territories, and supporting a strong one near the Falls of Niagara, with a few small armed vessels, or half-galleys to cruise on the Lakes.
For the security of this colony in its infancy, a small fort might be erected and for some time maintained at Buffalo Creek on the Ohio, above the settlement; and another at the mouth of the Tioga, on the south side of Lake Erie, where a port should be formed and a town erected for the trade of the Lakes. The colonists for this settlement might march by land through Pennsylvania.
The river Scioto, which runs into the Ohio about two hundred miles below Logstown, is supposed the fittest seat for the other colony; there being for forty miles on each side of it, and quite up to its heads, a body of all rich land; the finest spot of its bigness in all North America, and has the particular advantage of sea-coal in plenty (even above ground in two places) for fuel, when the woods shall be destroyed. This colony would have the trade of the Miamis or Twigtwees; and should, at first, have a small fort near Hochockin, at the head of the river, and another near the mouth of Wabash. Sandusky, a French fort near the Lake Erie, should also be taken; and all the little French forts south and west of the Lakes, quite to the Mississippi, be removed, or taken and garrisoned by the English. The colonists for this settlement might assemble near the heads of the rivers in Virginia, and march over land to the navigable branches of the Kenhawa, where they might embark with all their baggage and provisions, and fall into the Ohio, not far above the mouth of the Scioto. Or they might rendezvous at Will’s Creek, and go down the Monongahela to the Ohio.
The fort and armed vessels at the strait of Niagara would be a vast security to the frontiers of these new colonies against any attempts of the French from Canada. The fort at the mouth of the Wabash would guard that river, the Ohio, and the Cutava River, in case of any attempt from the French of the Mississippi. Every fort should have a small settlement round it, as the fort would protect the settlers, and the settlers defend the fort and supply it with provisions.
The difficulty of settling the first English colonies in America, at so great a distance from England, must have been vastly greater than the settling these proposed new colonies; for it would be the interest and advantage of all the present colonies to support these new ones; as they would cover their frontiers, and prevent the growth of the French power behind or near their present settlements; and the new country is nearly at equal distance from all the old colonies, and could easily be assisted from all of them.
And as there are already in all the old colonies many thousands of families that are ready to swarm, wanting more land, the richness and natural advantage of the Ohio country would draw most of them thither, were there but a tolerable prospect of a safe settlement. So that the new colonies would soon be full of people; and, from the advantage of their situation, become much more terrible to the French settlements than those are now to us. The gaining of the back Indian trade from the French, by the navigation of the Lakes, &c., would of itself greatly weaken our enemies, it being now their principal support. It seems highly probable, that in time they must be subjected to the British crown, or driven out of the country.
Such settlements may better be made now, than fifty years hence; because it is easier to settle ourselves, and thereby prevent the French settling there, as they seem now to intend, than to remove them when strongly settled.
If these settlements are postponed, then more forts and stronger, and more numerous and expensive garrisons, must be established, to secure the country, prevent their settling, and secure our present frontiers; the charge of which may probably exceed the charge of the proposed settlements, and the advantage nothing near so great.
The fort at Oswego should likewise be strengthened, and some armed half-galleys, or other small vessels, kept there to cruise on Lake Ontario, as proposed by Mr. Pownall in his paper laid before the commissioners at the Albany treaty.
If a fort was also built at Tirondequat on Lake Ontario, and a settlement made there near the lake side, where the lands are said to be good, much better than at Oswego, the people of such settlements would help to defend both forts on any emergency.
[1 ]This was a special and temporary commission; after Franklin’s return, in February, he was chosen and commissioned colonel of the Philadelphia regiment.
[1 ]This letter was probably directed to one of the commissioners, but the name of the individual is not known.
[1 ]He wrote to Mr. Horsefield, January 25th: “Foulke with his company marches this day to build another fort between this and Fort Lebanon in the Forks of the Schuylkill. He is to be assisted by Trexler’s company, and a detachment of Wetherhold’s, which also leaves us this day. My son, with Hays’s company and Arndt’s, marches in a few days to Surfass’s place (where Trump is also expected), to erect another fort between this and Fort Hamilton near Brodhead’s. I purpose to remain here between them till both are finished, with Wayne and the detachment of Davis’s, that I may be able to supply and assist on either side as occasion requires. This is the present state of our affairs, of which please to inform our friends, as I cannot now write to them.”
[1 ]John Franklin, who died at Boston, in January, 1756, at the age of sixty-five.
[2 ]John Franklin married a second wife, by the name of Hubbard, a widow. Miss E. Hubbard, to whom this letter was addressed, was her daughter by a former marriage.
[1 ]On a similar occasion he wrote to his sister, a few days afterwards, as follows: “It is remarkable that so many breaches by death should be made in our family in so short a space. Out of seventeen children that our father had, thirteen lived to grow up and settle in the world. I remember these thirteen (some of us then very young) all at one table, when an entertainment was made at our house, on occasion of the return of our brother Josiah, who had been absent in the East Indies, and unheard of for nine years. Of these thirteen, there now remain but three. As our number diminishes, let our affection to each other rather increase; for, besides its being our duty, it is our interest, since the more affectionate relations are to each other, the more they are respected by the rest of the world.”
[1 ]Franklin and Colonel Hunter were at this time jointly postmasters-general of the colonies, and the business of the post-office seems to have been the object of this journey to Virginia.
[1 ]On the 10th of June he wrote from Philadelphia to William Parsons. “It is now a long time since I had the pleasure of a line from you. I am now returned from Virginia, where I was near two months. I should be glad to learn from you the present state of the forces in your county, and of the people. If in any thing I can serve you, command freely your old friend.”
[2 ]Mr. Sparks publishes this letter as addressed to George Whitefield under date of June 6, 1753. In a note he says. “The above letter has often been printed, and always, I believe, as having been written to Whitefield, but among the author’s MSS. I find the first draft, with the following indorsement in Franklin’s handwriting. ‘Letter to Joseph Huey.’ ” Aside from the intrinsic improbability of Franklin’s preaching such a sermon as this to Whitefield, there is no good reason to doubt that it was written to the man to whom it was addressed. The first draft, from which we print, is in the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.—Editor.
[1 ]Mr Sparks concludes his letter with the words “offends God.” That is a very satisfactory conclusion, but we have no evidence that it was Franklin’s.
[1 ]Doubtless, Whitefield’s Short Address to Persons of all Denominations.
[1 ]Thomas Pownall, commonly called Governor Pownall, came first to America with Sir Danvers Osborn, Governor of New York, in 1753. His brother, John Pownall, was one of the secretaries to the Board of Trade, and Thomas Pownall had made himself well acquainted with American affairs. He returned to England in February, 1756, but came back to America again with the Earl of Loudoun, who landed at New York on the 23d of July following. In the next year, 1757, he succeeded General Shirley as governor of Massachusetts. At later periods he was lieutenant-governor of New Jersey, and governor of South Carolina, though it would seem that he remained but a short time in either of these two last stations. He was a member of Parliament from 1768 to 1780, and opposed with much boldness and ability the ministerial measures against the colonies. He wrote and published various tracts relating to America, the most valuable of which is his treatise entitled, Administration of the Colonies, which passed through several editions. He died in 1805, at the advanced age of eighty-three years.—Sparks.
[1 ]At this time commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces raised to protect the frontiers from the Indians and French. His head-quarters were at Winchester. Franklin, in his capacity of postmaster-general for the colonies, had, the year previous, during Braddock’s march, arranged a post between Philadelphia and Winchester, in consequence of a vote of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
[2 ]At this time Franklin printed and published a newspaper in Philadelphia.
[1 ]Though Franklin was actively engaged in these important affairs, which had an immediate claim upon his exertions, he took a not less zealous or liberal part in promoting objects of general utility; as is manifest by the following extract from a letter written to him by Mr. William Shipley, dated London, September 1, 1756. Mr. Shipley was secretary to the society, in whose behalf he wrote.
[1 ]When the above letter was written, the author was at Easton, in Pennsylvania, attending a conference with the Indians. The successes of the French on the frontiers, and the disasters which followed Braddock’s defeat, had excited the Indians to hostilities, and murders and other outrages had been committed by them even in the heart of the province. To counteract the influence of the French and bring the Indians to a better temper, it was deemed expedient to hold an amicable conference with some of their chiefs. Governor Denny was present in person, and also William Logan and Richard Peters, on the part of the Council, and Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Fox, William Masters, and John Hughes, as delegates from the Assembly. The conference was opened at Easton on the 8th of November. Teedyuscung, a king of the Delawares, residing at Wyoming, was the principal speaker for the Indians. He explained the reasons of the recent hostilities, but said he was now at peace, and wished to remain so. He promised to return all the prisoners, and demanded that the Indians who had been taken should likewise be sent back to him. He also complained of wrongs which he had suffered.
[1 ]Dr. Franklin was early possessed of the belief, that great advantage would redound to the English colonies on the sea-board by settlements beyond the Alleghanies under governments distinctly organized. Such settlements would not only rapidly increase in population, thereby strengthening the power of the whole, but would serve as a barrier to the other colonies against the Indians and French, who, in time of war, made descents upon the frontiers, kept the people in alarm, and caused great expense in raising troops and supporting an army to repel their invasions. He pursued this favorite object for many years, and after he went to England a company was formed, under his auspices, who petitioned for a grant to settle a colony west of the Allegany Mountains. Many obstacles were encountered, but the application was at last successful. The scheme was prevented from being carried into effect by the troubles immediately preceding the revolution.
[1 ]This prediction has been verified in a much less time than even the author anticipated.—Editor.