247
247
Franklin, Benjamin
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("BFRANKLIN") TO JAMES WRIGHT
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
247
Franklin, Benjamin
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("BFRANKLIN") TO JAMES WRIGHT
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II | Music, Americana, English and Continental Literature

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New York

Franklin, Benjamin
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("BFRANKLIN") TO JAMES WRIGHT
2 pages (7 7/8 x 6 3/8 in.; 202 x 162 mm) on a leaf of laid paper, Philadelphia, 26 June 1755; several early repairs at margins and folds, very lightly soiled, tipped to an old album leaf.
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Literature

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Labaree, 6: 90–91; cf. Lemay, The Life of Benjamin Franklin 3: 423–438

Catalogue Note

An important French and Indian War letter, discussing the Pennsylvania Assembly's support of General Braddock's march from Fort Cumberland to Fort Duquesne—and exposing Franklin's rivalry with Pennsylvania governor Robert Hunt Morris.

Franklin here writes to his friend James Wright, who, with his sister Susanna, had helped Franklin in outfitting the Braddock expedition, which included George Washington, Colonel of the Virginia Regiment. In April 1755, Franklin had actually met with Braddock at his headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. "I am glad to learn that the Flour is mostly if not all got up to Conegocheeg, and that you have so good a Prospect of getting Waggons to forward it to Wills’s Creek." Since he knew his correspondent well, Franklin writes candidly of Governor Morris's interference with the Assembly. Morris was motivated by a complete loyalty to the Penn family and supported the proprietors' refusal to pay any taxes on their vast land holdings, even for the defense of the province. Franklin believed he was representing the citizens of Pennsylvania in arguing for a robust defense, including liberal support of Braddock. (Morris confided to Massachusetts governor William Shirley that "Franklin tho' a man of extraordinary ability and extensive genius, Has very out of the way notions of the power of the People, and is as much a favourer of the unreasonable claims of American Assembly as any man whatever, he is indeed against the Quakers in opinion in point of defence, and would wish them less in power in this Province than they are"; quoted in Lemay).

Franklin reports that "The Governor has sent down the Bill and proposes to pass it with about 30 Amendments, of which one is that the Commissioners named in the Act to dispose of the £5000 for Roads, Indian Expenses &c. shall lay out none of the Money without his Consent. Another that the £10000 given to General Braddock with the £5000 be sunk in 5 years. Another that the Money arising from the Excise during the remaining 5 years be not disposed of without the Governor’s Consent. Another that the Treasurer S. Preston Moore, be named in the Bill to continue till another be appointed by Act of Assembly &c. &c. &c. The House adhere to their Bill, and will send it up again tho’ without any Hopes of its Passing."

As Lemay point out, Franklin seems, ironically, to be pleased by Morris's emendation of the bill because "the Mask is now forc’d off." He continues, "not one word is mentioned of King’s Instructions which have long been made a Pretense to harass us, but the Governor is willing for a Bill to make Paper Money without a reclaiming Clause &c. provided we comply with the Proprietary Instructions, and agree not to chuse our own Officers nor make use of our own Money without his Consent. We should not have had this Clearing up of Things, if we had not sent him the original Royal Approbation of Gov. Thomas’s Act, which deprived him of all the old Subterfuges. My Love to all the Good Folks on both sides the River." In a postscript, Franklin adds, "I shall be glad to hear of Johnny's Success." This is evidently a reference to Wright's son, but it is not known on what enterprise he was embarking.

Franklin's prediction that the bill had no hope of passing proved prescient. He and his fellow members of the Assembly were unwilling to pass a tax if Governor Morris would control the funds, and the body adjourned until 1 September. By then, Braddock's forces had been routed by the French at the Battle of Monongahela and the General himself was mortally wounded.

Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II | Music, Americana, English and Continental Literature

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New York