Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCLXII: TO LORD KAMES - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768
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CCLXII: TO LORD KAMES - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768 
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. IV (Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768).
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TO LORD KAMES
London, 2 June, 1765.
My Dear Lord:—
I received with great pleasure your friendly letter by Mr. Alexander, which I should have answered sooner by some other conveyance, if I had understood that his stay here was like to be so long. I value myself extremely on the continuance of your regard, which I hope hereafter better to deserve, by more punctual returns in the correspondence you honor me with.
You require my history from the time I set sail for America. I left England about the end of August, 1762, in company with ten sail of merchant ships, under a convoy of a man-of-war. We had a pleasant passage to Madeira, where we were kindly received and entertained; our nation being then in high honor with the Portuguese, on account of the protection we were then affording them against the united invasions of France and Spain. It is a fertile island, and the different heights and situations among its mountains afford such temperaments of air, that all the fruits of northern and southern countries are produced there; corn, grapes, apples, peaches, oranges, lemons, plantains, bananas, &c. Here we furnished ourselves with fresh provisions, and refreshments of all kinds; and, after a few days, proceeded on our voyage, running southward until we got into the trade winds, and then with them westward, till we drew near the coast of America. The weather was so favorable that there were few days in which we could not visit from ship to ship, dining with each other, and on board of the man-of-war; which made the time pass agreeably, much more so than when one goes in a single ship; for this was like travelling in a moving village, with all one’s neighbours about one.
On the 1st of November, I arrived safe and well at my own home, after an absence of near six years; found my wife and daughter well; the latter grown quite a woman, with many amiable accomplishments acquired in my absence; and my friends as hearty and affectionate as ever, with whom my house was filled for many days, to congratulate me on my return. I had been chosen yearly during my absence to represent the city of Philadelphia in our provincial Assembly; and, on my appearance in the House, they voted me three thousand pounds sterling for my services in England, and their thanks, delivered by the Speaker. In February following my son arrived with my new daughter; for, with my consent and approbation, he married soon after I left England a very agreeable West India lady, with whom he is very happy. I accompanied him to his government, where he met with the kindest reception from the people of all ranks, and has lived with them ever since in the greatest harmony. A river only parts that province and ours, and his residence is within seventeen miles of me, so that we frequently see each other.
In the spring of 1763, I set out on a tour through all the northern Colonies to inspect and regulate the post-offices in the several provinces. In this journey I spent the summer, travelled about sixteen hundred miles, and did not get home till the beginning of November. The Assembly sitting through the following winter, and warm disputes arising between them and the governor, I became wholly engaged in public affairs; for, besides my duty as an Assemblyman, I had another trust to execute, that of being one of the commissioners appointed by law to dispose of the public money appropriated to the raising and paying an army to act against the Indians, and defend the frontiers. And then, in December, we had two insurrections of the back inhabitants of our province, by whom twenty poor Indians were murdered, that had, from the first settlement of the province, lived among us, under the protection of our government. This gave me a good deal of employment; for as the rioters threatened further mischief, and their actions seemed to be approved by an ever-acting party, I wrote a pamphlet entitled A Narrative, &c. (which I think I sent to you), to strengthen the hands of our weak government, by rendering the proceedings of the rioters unpopular and odious. This had a good effect; and afterwards, when a great body of them with arms marched towards the capital, in defiance of the government, with an avowed resolution to put to death one hundred and forty Indian converts then under its protection, I formed an Association at the governor’s request, for his and their defence, we having no militia. Near one thousand of our citizens accordingly took arms; Governor Penn made my house for some time his head-quarters, and did every thing by my advice; so that for about forty-eight hours, I was a very great man; as I had been once some years before, in a time of public danger.
But the fighting face we put on, and the reasonings we used with the insurgents (for I went at the request of the governor and council, with three others, to meet and discourse with them), having turned them back and restored quiet to the city, I became a less man than ever; for I had, by this transaction, made myself many enemies among the populace; and the governor (with whose family our public disputes had long placed me in an unfriendly light, and the services I had lately rendered him not being of the kind that make a man acceptable) thinking it a favorable opportunity, joined the whole weight of the proprietary interest to get me out of the Assembly; which was accordingly effected at the last election, by a majority of about twenty-five in four thousand voters. The House, however, when they met in October, approved of the resolutions taken, while I was Speaker,1 of petitioning the crown for a change of government, and requested me to return to England, to prosecute that petition; which service, I accordingly undertook, and embarked at the beginning of November last, being accompanied to the ship, sixteen miles, by a cavalcade of three hundred of my friends, who filled our sails with their good wishes, and I arrived in thirty days at London.
Here I have been ever since, engaged in that and other public affairs relating to America, which are likely to continue some time longer upon my hands; but I promise you, that when I am quit of these, I will engage in no other; and that, as soon as I have recovered the ease and leisure I hope for, the task you require of me, of finishing my Art of Virtue, shall be performed. In the meantime, I must request you would excuse me on this consideration, that the powers of the mind are possessed by different men in different degrees, and that every one cannot, like Lord Kames, intermix literary pursuits and important business without prejudice to either.
I send you herewith two or three other pamphlets of my writing on our political affairs, during my short residence in America1 ; but I do not insist on your reading them; for I know you employ all your time to some useful purpose. I am, &c.,
P. S.—I promise myself the pleasure of seeing you and my other friends in Scotland before I return to America.
[1 ]Mr. Isaac Norris, who had long acted as Speaker of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, resigned that office on account of ill health, May 26, 1764, and Dr. Franklin was appointed as his successor. He continued Speaker till the Assembly was dissolved in September following.
[1 ]These were A Narrative of the Late Massacres; Cool Thoughts; and the Preface to Galloway’s Speech. See supra.