Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCLXIII: TO THOMAS CUSHING - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
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CCCCLXIII: TO THOMAS CUSHING - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
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. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
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TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 4 November, 1772.
Lord Dartmouth, our American minister, came to town last week, and held his first levee on Wednesday, when I paid my respects to him, acquainting him at the same time that I should in a few days wait upon him, on business from Boston; which I have accordingly since done, and have put your petition to the King into his Lordship’s hands, that being the regular course.
He received me very obligingly, made no objection to my acting as agent without an appointment assented to by the governor, as his predecessor had done, so that I hope business is getting into a better train. I shall use my best endeavours in supporting the petition, and write you more fully by the next ship to Boston. In the meantime I remain with great respect, your most obedient and humble servant,
London, 2 December, 1772.
The above is a copy of my last. A few days after my leaving your petition with Lord Dartmouth, his Lordship sent for me to discourse with me upon it. After a long audience, he was pleased to say that, notwithstanding all I had said or could say in support and justification of the petition, he was sure the presenting it at this time could not possibly produce any good; that the King would be exceedingly offended, but what steps his Majesty would take upon it was uncertain; perhaps he would require the opinion of the judges or government lawyers, which would surely be against us; perhaps he might lay it before Parliament, and so the censure of both Houses would be drawn down upon us. The most favorable thing to be expected was a severe reprimand to the Assembly, by order of his Majesty, the natural consequence of which must be more discontent and uneasiness in the province. That, possessed as he was with great good-will for New England, he was extremely unwilling that one of the first acts of his administration, with regard to the Massachusetts, should be of so unpleasant a nature. That minds had been heated and irritated on both sides of the water, but he hoped those heats were now cooling, and he was averse to the addition of fresh fuel. That, as I had delivered the petition to him officially, he must present it if I insisted upon it; but he wished I would first consult my constituents, who might possibly, on reconsideration, think fit to order its being deferred.
I answered that the great majority with which the petition and the resolves on which it was founded were carried through the House, made it scarce expectable that their order would be countermanded; that the slighting, evading, or refusing to receive petitions from the colonies, on some late occasions by the Parliament, had occasioned a total loss of the respect for and confidence in that body, formerly subsisting so strongly in America, and brought on a questioning of their authority; that his Lordship might observe that petitions came no more from thence to Parliament, but to the King only; that the King appeared now to be the only connexion between the two countries; and that as a continued union was essentially necessary to the well-being of the whole empire, I should be sorry to see that link weakened, as the other had been; that I thought it a dangerous thing for any government to refuse receiving petitions, and thereby prevent the subjects from giving vent to their griefs.
His Lordship interrupted me by replying that he did not refuse to deliver the petition; that it should never justly be said of him that he interrupted the complaints of his Majesty’s subjects; and that he must and would present it, as he had said before, whenever I should absolutely require it; but, for motives of pure good-will to the province, he wished me not to insist on it, till I should receive fresh orders.
Finally, considering that since the petition was ordered there had been a change in the American administration; that the present minister was our friend in the repeal of the Stamp Act, and seems still to have good dispositions towards us; that you had mentioned the probability that the House would have remonstrated on all the other grievances, had not their time been taken up with the difficult business of a general valuation; and since the complaint of this petition was likely alone to give offence, it might perhaps be judged advisable to give the substance of all our complaints at once, rather than in part and after a reprimand received; I say upon the whole I thought it best not to disoblige him in the beginning of his administration by refusing him what he seemed so desirous of—a delay at least in presenting the petition till further directions should be received from my constituents. If after deliberation they should send me fresh orders, I shall immediately obey them, and the application to the Crown itself may possibly derive greater weight from the reconsideration given it, while the temper of the House may be somewhat calmed by the removal of a minister who had rendered himself so obnoxious to them. Accordingly I consented to the delay desired, wherein I hope my conduct will not be disapproved.1
With the greatest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, your and the committee’s most obedient and most humble servant,
[1 ]With this letter were communicated Hutchinson’s letters, which produced so much excitement at the time in Massachusetts.