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attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more, of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which, however, I think she has not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she has lost them for ever.
She has begun to burn our seaport towns; secure, I suppose, that we shall never be able to return the outrage in kind. She may doubtless destroy them all; but, if she wishes to recover our commerce, are these the probable means? She must certainly be distracted; for no tradesman out of Bedlam ever thought of increasing the number of his customers, by knocking them on the head; or of enabling them to pay their debts, by burning their houses. If she wishes to have us subjects, and that we should submit to her as our compound sovereign, she is now giving us such miserable specimens of her government, that we shall ever detest and avoid it, as a complication of robbery, murder, famine, fire, and pestilence.
You will have heard, before this reaches you, of the treacherous conduct of General Gage to the remaining people in Boston, in detaining their goods, after stipulating to let them go out with their effects, on pretence that merchants' goods were not effects; the defeat of a great body of his troops by the country people at Lexington; some other small advantages gained in skirmishes with their troops; and the action at Bunker's Hill, in which they were twice repulsed, and the third time gained a dear victory. Enough has happened, one would think, to convince your ministers, that the Americans will fight, and that this is a harder nut to crack than they imagined.
We have not yet applied to any foreign power for assistance, nor offered our commerce for their friendship. Perhaps we never may; yet it is natural to think of it, if we are pressed. We have now an army on the establishment, which still holds yours besieged. My time was never more fully employed. In the morning at six, I am at the Committee of Safety, appointed by the Assembly to put the province in a state of defence; which committee holds till near nine, when I am at the Congress, and that sits till after four in the afternoon. Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimity, and their meetings are well attended. It will scarce be credited in Britain, that men can be as diligent with us from zeal for the public good, as with you for thousands per annum. Such is the difference between uncorrupted new states, and corrupted old ones.
Great frugality and great industry are now become fashionable here. Gentlemen, who used to entertain with two or three courses, pride themselves now in treating with simple beef and pudding. By these means, and the stoppage of our consumptive trade with Britain, we shall be better able to pay our voluntary taxes for the support of our troops. Our savings in the article of trade amount to near five millions sterling per annum.
I shall communicate your letter to Mr. Winthrop; but the camp is at Cambridge, and he has as little leisure for philosophy as myself. Believe me ever, &c.
TO MRS. MARY HEWSON.
Philadelphia, 8 July, 1775.
My Dear Friend,
I thank you for your kind letter of April 14th. It grieves me, that the present situation of public affairs makes it not eligible for you to come hither with your family, because I am sure you would otherwise like this country, and might provide better here for your children, at the same time that I should be made more happy by your neighbourhood and company. I flatter myself, that this may yet happen, and that our public disputes may be ended by the time your private business is settled to your mind, and then we may be all happy together. .
The debt you mention of mine to Bolton remains unpaid through his own neglect. I was charged by Matthews ten pounds for the tea-kitchen, but Bolton told me I ought not to pay so much; that he would see what it should be when he got home, and send me word, which he never did. I dunned him for it by letters, as often as Matthews sent to me, but received no answer.
I take it kindly of my godson, that he should remember me; my love to him. I am glad to hear the dear children are all well through the measles. I have much delight in my godsons. Mr. and Mrs. Bache join in love to yours. Ben,* when I delivered him your blessing, inquired the age of Elizabeth, and thought her yet too young for him; but, as he made no other objection, and that will lessen every day, I have only to wish being alive to dance with your mother at the wedding. Temple was much obliged by your kind remembrance of him. He is now very happy with his father at Amboy, near New York, but returns to me in September, to prosecute his studies in our College.
* Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of Dr. Franklin.
I am much pleased with the contribution letter, and thank you for your share of it. I am still well and hearty, and never went through more business than I do at present. God knows when I shall be permitted to enjoy the repose I wish. Adieu, my very dear friend. Continue your pleasing correspondence, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,
TO PETER V. B. LIVINGSTON.*
Powder for the Use of the Troops in New York,
Perth Amboy, 29 August, 1775.
Sir, The* Committee of Safety acquainted you by a letter, dated the 26th instant, that we had ordered a ton of gunpowder to be sent to you, agreeably to your request. It left Philadelphia early on Sunday morning, and yesterday I overtook the wagon on the road at Trenton, and left it proceeding on the journey. But, being informed this morning at Brunswic, that four wagon loads of powder had passed through that place on Friday evening for your city, and supposing it to be the powder, which you mentioned as having been expected, but not arrived, which occasioned your sending to us; and, as we have still too little at Philadelphfel, I thought it best to stop that powder, and send it back again, and wrote accordingly to the wagoner by a person just setting out for Trenton. I write this, therefore, that you may not expect it at New York in consequence of our letter. With great respect and esteem, I am, &c
* Chairman of the Committee of Safety in New York., Dr. Franklin was chairman of a similar committee in Philadelphia. When this letter was written, he was on a visit to his son, the governor of New Jersey, who then resided at Perth Amboy.
TO JOSEPH PRIESTLEY.
■First Campaign made by the British Forces in
Philadelphia, 3 October, 1775.
Dear Sir, I am to set out to-morrow for the camp, and, having but just heard of this opportunity, can only write a line to say that I am well and hearty.* Tell our dear good friend, Dr. Price, who sometimes has his doubts and despondencies about our firmness, that America is determined and unanimous; a very few Tories and placemen excepted, who will probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expense of three millions, has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign, which is twenty thousand pounds a head; and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill. During the same time sixty thousand children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and
* On the 30th of September, Congress appointed Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, and Mr. Harrison, as a committee to confer with General Washington, concerning the best mode of supporting and regulating the Continental army. The committee proceeded to the camp at Cambridge, and the conference was held on the 18th of October. See WashingIon'* Writings, Vol. III. p. 123.