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Governour Franklin to the Earl of Dartmouth



[Secret and confidential.]

Perth-Amboy, January 5, 1776.

My LORD: I did myself the honour to write to your Lordship on the 3d of last month, from Burlington, and to enclose copies of my speech, and the Council and Assembly' s addresses, at the opening of the session of General Assembly, together with sundry other papers. The minutes of the Assembly not being yet printed, I enclose the written copy of them, which I received daily from the clerk during the session.

Several petitions were presented to the Assembly, praying them to discourage any attempt to promote an Indepency on Great Britain, and that they would grant the support for His Majesty' s Government, in this Colony, as usual. Their resolves, respecting the first, your Lordship will see in their minutes of November 28, which are nearly similar to those before passed in the Assembly of Pennsylvania, on the like occasion. It seems, indeed, to be the general opinion of those with whom I converse, that the majority of people, in both Provinces, are greatly averse to an Independency, and, if they could once be convinced that their present leaders have such intentions, would immediately unite to oppose them in every such attempt. But the danger seems to be that the design will be carried on by such degrees, and under such pretences, as not to be perceived by the people, in general, till too late for resistance. That some have such designs, is too evident from the publications in those newspapers which are more immediately under the influence of the Congress and their adherents, if not by the system of measures which have been uniformly pursued by them. Some of those papers I enclose for your Lordship' s perusal.

The Assembly granted the usual support of Government, but they evaded complying at present with His Majesty' s requisition to them on that subject, communicated in my Message of the 21st of November. The reasons they thought proper to give, for their non-compliance, are contained in their Message of the 6th of December, which being the day they were to be prorogued, agreeably to their and the Council' s request, I did not think it expedient to delay the session longer, merely on that account, or I should have pointed out the absurdity and insufficiency of those reasons. However, I shall not fail doing it at the next session, when, perhaps, it may be of some service, which, the re was, no probability of its being at the last.

By the minutes of December 5, your Lordship will perceive that the Assembly had it in their intentions to petition His Majesty again on the subject of the present unhappy disputes; but after the draught of an address was prepared, which would probably have passed the House, a Committee of the General Congress at Philadelphia came in great haste to Burlington, desired admittance into the Assembly, which being granted, they harangued the House for about an hour on the subject, and persuaded them to drop the design. That your Lordship may have some idea of the arguments they used on this occasion, I have obtained a copy of the notes taken by a gentleman present, which contain the substance of the speech of Mr˙ Dickinson, of Philadelphia . The other members of the Committee were Mr˙ Jay, of New-York, and Mr˙ Wythe, of Virginia. I have not seen the draught of the address,


but I am told that it contained some plan or proposals for an accommodation, and that it was this part which alarmed the Congress, and occasioned them to take so extraordinary a step to prevent its being sent; they being of opinion that no Colony ought to presume to make separate proposals, or to take separate measures, on the present occasion, but to leave the whole to their management.

A day or two before the end of the session, I received a very unexpected attack from the Council. The pretence was, an expression in my reply to their address; but as the expression alluded to was very far from warranting any such interpretation, I cannot but imagine it was intended merely ad populum. However, if that was their aim, they have been greatly disappointed, for the purport and language of their Message is much disapproved by all ranks of people. Even one of the members of Assembly, who is far from being a friend of mine, speaking of it in the House, called it "an unwarrantable, ungenerous, and ungentlemanly attack on the Governour." The truth is, as I have reason to believe, that three of the leading members of the Council are strongly inclined to favour the measures of the Congress, and that the rest who were present have a leaning the same way, except two or three, at most, and even these think it necessary to their safety to observe a kind of trimming conduct. A seeming difference, therefore, with the Governour, who publickly and privately avowed his disapprobation of those measures, world be likely to answer their purpose at such a time as the present. My situation is, indeed, somewhat particular, and not a little difficult, having no more than one or two, among the principal officers of Government, to whom I can now speak confidentially on publick affairs.

Notwithstanding the declarations of the Council and Assembly, in their addresses, with regard to the perfect safety of the officers of the Crown in this Province, yet, in less than a fortnight after the session was over, two Judges and one Justice of the Peace, who live in three different Counties, have been seized by order of Committees, and one of them is a member of the Assembly. What is to be their fate I know not; but I cannot learn that they are even charged with having taken any active part against the measures of the Congress, though they have refused signing Associations, and spoke against some of their proceedings.

I have suspended William Alexander, Esq˙, (claiming to be and commonly called Earl of Stirling,) from the Council, until His Majesty' s pleasure shall be known. The reasons will appear in the minutes of Privy Council, now copying, and which will be transmitted by the next packet. If His Majesty shall think proper to remove him, I shall then recommend such person as I may think most suitable to serve the Crown in that capacity.

Since correspondence by letter is become so precarious, and, indeed, dangerous, I obtain very little more intelligence of publick matters than what is to be found in the newspapers. But I find it is generally believed that the Congress have well-grounded assurances of assistance from France, if not from Spain, and that they are determined to apply for foreign aid, if they find Government likely to employ foreign troops against them. It is certain that they meet with little or no difficulty in getting powder, &c˙, from the French Islands, and I have reason to think it is with the connivance of the French Governours there. It is also suggested that the French Ambassador, in England, has immediate and full intelligence of what passes in the Privy or Cabinet Council, and conveys the same to some person in London, connected with America. It has been likewise intimated that a French fleet is expected in the River St˙ Laurence, as early as the season will admit; and we have certain intelligence of a considerable body of French Troops being arrived in the West-Indies.

Enclosed is a copy of a paper said to be wrote in New-England, and sent to all the sea-coast Towns in North-America, to persuade the people to suffer their Towns to be destroyed, rather than supply the King' s ships with provisions .

In Sussex County, in this Province, there are, I am told, a considerable body of people who are culled Tories, and, it is said, they have been lately furnishing themselves with arms and ammunition, and that the Committee of Safety are to meet next Tuesday, at Princeton, to consult on measures


for disarming them, &c. The Provincial Congress here have given leave to some persons to export country produce, on condition of importing the value in powder and other military stores. A copy of one of their resolves for that purpose is enclosed . I have no doubt but a great quantity will be smuggled into some of the harbours on the New-Jersey shore, from Sandy-Hook to Cape-May, particularly into Barnegat, Little and Great Egg Harbour, unless prevented by the King' s ships.

Two of the New-Jersey Delegates to the Continental Congress (Messrs˙ Kinsey and De Hart) have resigned their seats, on pretence of inconveniency; but it is generally attributed to apprehension of danger. I enclose a copy of the latter' s resignation , that your Lordship may have an opportunity of seeing what extravagant ideas of the measures of Government these men endeavour to instil into the minds of the people.

For further information, respecting the publick transactions in this and the other Colonies, I must beg leave to refer your Lordship to the enclosed newspapers, and to the printed journal of the proceedings of the Congress, sent herewith.

The Assembly did not think proper to make any further attack on me, on account of the extract of my letter to your Lordship, printed in the Parliamentary Register; for winch they have given some reasons (probably not the true ones) in their minutes of November 30. But I am told that they have obtained a copy of the whole of that letter, though only a part was laid before Parliament. By what means this has been done, I cannot learn; but I find it is suspected that it has been obtained by some management of Mr˙ De Berdt, and that this has been one reason for the Assembly' s appointing him their agent. I think it proper to give your Lordship this hint, as it is represented by his friends here that he has some share of your Lordship' s confidence and regard, though, perhaps, without any just foundation. At any rate, as I have no doubt but some measures will be, if they are not already taken, to influence clerks in office, I hope this letter will be communicated only to His Majesty' s most confidential servants.

I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect and regard, my Lord, your Lordship' s most obedient and most humble servant,


Right Honourable the Earl of Dartmouth, &c˙, &c.