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TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY.
.Acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly. — Duty on Tea. – Hutchinson’s Letters. London, 18 February, 1774. DEAR FRIEND, The acts of the February session, 1773, are at last presented, of which I have lately acquainted the Committee.” They are now before the Board of Trade. I do not yet hear of any objection to the paper money bill, and hope there can be none that we shall not get over. I observe there is no declaration of the value of the bills, whether proclamation or sterling.f Possibly, if this should be taken notice of, it may be thought too loose and uncertain, but it may escape their observation; and, if necessary, you can by a little supplement ascertain it. The treatment of the tea in America has excited great wrath here; but how that will vent itself is not yet known, except that some part of it has fallen upon me, perhaps from a suspicion that I instigated the opposition to its importation. This, however, is not the given reason. . My returning Hutchinson's and Oliver's letters to Boston is held out to the public, as the great offence for which I am deprived of my of: fice. I will explain to you my conduct in that matter.
* The acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly, sent over to be approved by the King. + In Queen Anne's time the currency of the colonies had become so much deranged, by the different denominations given to foreign coins in the different colonies, that she issued a proclamation, dated June 18th, 1704, with the design of introducing uniformity. The proclamation begins as follows. “We, having had under our consideration the different rates at which the same species of foreign coins do pass in our several colonies and plantations in America, and the inconveniences thereof, by the indirect practice of drawing the money from one plantation to another, to the great prejudice of the trade of our subjects, and being sensible that the same cannot be otherwise remedied, than by reducing all foreign coins to the same current rate within all our dominions in America,” &c. The value of the foreign coins in circulation, as proved at the mint, is next stated. The Seville piece of eight, or dollar, is fixed at four shillings and sixpence sterling. The Mexico piece of eight the same; and the Pillar piece of eight, at four shillings, six pence, and three farthings. The proclamation then proceeds; “We have therefore thought fit, for remedying the said inconveniences, by the advice of our Council, to publish and declare, that, from and after the first day of January next ensuing the date hereof, no Seville, Pillar, or Mexico pieces of eight, though of the full weight of seventeen pennyweights and a half shall be accounted, received, taken, or paid, within any of our said colonies or plantations, as well those under Proprietors and Charters, as under our immediate commission and government, at above the rate of six shillings per piece, current money, for the discharge of any contracts or bargains, to be made after the said first day of January next."
Those letters, which had, at the time, been shown about here to several persons, fell into the hands of a gentleman, who produced them to me, to convince me of the truth of a fact, the possibility of which I had in conversation denied, namely, that the sending troops to Boston, and other measures so offensive to the people of New England, did not arise from any inimical disposition in this country towards them, but were projected, proposed, and solicited, by some of the principal and best esteemed of their own people. I was convinced, accordingly, by perusing those letters, and thought it might have a good effect, if I could convince the leaders there of the same truth, since it would remove much of their resentment against Britain as a harsh, unkind - *
This proclamation not proving effectual to the extent desired, an act of Parliament was passed three years afterwards, inflicting a penalty of ten pounds, and six months' imprisonment, upon offenders after the first day of May, 1709, but not compelling any person to take the coins at the prescribed rates.
Hence the currency, in which a dollar was estimated at six shillings, was called Proclamation Money, and sometimes Lawful Money. Both these names continued in use till the Revolution, and the latter till the United States currency became established. But the proclamation did not wholly effect its object; for in several of the colonies the dollar continued to be reckoned at more than six shillings, owing to the fluctuation in the value of the paper currency and exchange. See, on this subject, Vol. II. p. 351; and SPARKs's Life of Gouverneur Morris, Vol. I, pp. 273–280.
TO SAMUEL COOPER. Treatment of Dr. Franklin in Consequence of sending
Hutchinson's Letters. — French Edition of his Writings.
London, 25 February, 1774. DEAR SIR, I have written a pretty full account to the Speaker of the treatment their petition and their agent have received here. My letter went to Symes, and probably you may have seen it before this can reach you; therefore, and because I have a little disorder in my eyes at present, I do not repeat any part of it to you, nor can I well send a copy to him.
You can have no conception of the rage the ministerial people have been in with me, on account of my transmitting those letters.f It is quite incomprehensible. If they had been wise, they might have made a good use of the discovery, by agreeing to lay the blame of our differences on those, from whom, by those letters, it appeared to have arisen, and by a change of measures, which would then have appeared natural, and restored the harmony between the two countries.
I send directed to you a set of the late French edition of my Philosophical Papers. There are in it
• The remainder of the letter is lost. + Hutchinson's Letters.
. Dubourg's edition, in two quarto volumes, published in 1773. To ha wife he wrote, September 1st, 1773; "There is a new translation
several pieces not in the English. When you have looked them over, please to give them to Mr. Winthrop for the College Library. I am ever, dear Sir, yours most affectionately,
TO THOMAS CUSHING. Petitions to Parliament from Americans in London.
Alarm of the Manufacturers. —New Measures hostile to the Colonies expected.
London, 2 April, 1774. SIR, My last was of the 22d past, since which I have received none of your favors. I mentioned that the bill brought into Parliament for punishing Boston met with no opposition. It did, however, meet with a little before it got through, some few of the members speaking against it in the House of Commons, and more in the House of Lords. It passed, however, by a very great majority in both, and received the royal assent
of my book at Paris, and printed there, being the third edition in French. A fifth edition is now printing here. To the French edition they have prefixed a print of your old husband, which, though a copy of that by Chamberlin, has got so French a countenance, that you would take him for one of that lively nation.”
The portrait by Chamberlin, which is here mentioned, is one of the best that was ever taken of Dr. Franklin. It was painted during his first mission to England, and beautifully engraved in mezzotinto by Fisher. He is represented in a sitting posture, nearly full length, and engaged in experiments with his electrical bells, which hang in the room in which he is sitting. Through an open window the lightning is seen, in the distance, descending upon an edifice and rending it asunder. In size the engraved print is thirteen inches by ten. It is much reduced in the copies, which have been made from it, and in some of them the upper part of the figure only is retained, by which the spirit and general effect of the whole are lost.
on Thursday the 31st past. You will have a copy of it from Mr. Lee.
In mine of February 2d, I informed you, that, after the treatment I had received at the Council Board, it was not possible for me to act longer as your agent, apprehending I could as such be of no further use to the province. I have nevertheless given what assistance I could, as a private man, by speaking to members of both Houses, and by joining in the petitions of the natives of America now happening to be in London, which were ably drawn by Mr. Lee, to be presented separately to the several branches of the legislature. They serve, though without other effect, to show our sentiments, and that we did not look on and let the act pass without bearing our testimony against it. And, indeed, though called petitions (for under another name they would not have been received) they are rather remonstrances and protests.
By the enclosed extract of a letter from Wakefield in Yorkshire to a friend of mine, you will see that the manufacturers begin to take the alarm. Another general non-importation agreement is apprehended by them, which would complete their ruin. But great pains are taken to quiet them with the idea, that Boston must immediately submit, and acknowledge the claims of Parliament, for that none of the other colonies will adhere to them. A number of the principal manufacturers from different parts of the kingdom are now in town, to oppose the new duty on foreign linens, which they fear may provoke the Germans to kay discouragements on British manufactures. They have desired me to meet and dine with them on Wednesday next, where I shall have an opportunity of learning their sentiments more fully, and communicating my own.