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ward was thought convenient for it in that part of the province. But. I must observe to your lordships, that the province by this trade have been little better than tributary to the Indians; for they supplied them with goods near as cheap as they cost, and allowed for their furs the market price at Boston, and were at a great charge in keeping garrisons at the several forts, and always had a transport sloop in pay; and if it had not been for fear of a breach with the Indians, would soon have discontinued so disadvantageous a trade.
When the present war broke out, there were several thriving settlements near this fort, and no other fortification of any sort beyond it ; for which reason I engaged the assembly of this province to continue to support a garrison, and they agreed to it. The inhabitants of a new township on Connecticut river, forty miles beyond this fort, afterwards built at their own charge a very good and large fort of square timber, known by the name of No. 4, which has several times been attacked by great bodies of the enemy, and very bravely defended. There were also built afterwards several small forts, on and near the river, between this No. 4 and Fort Dummer, at the charge of this province; for the people were in hopes to have been able to continue in possession of their new settlements; but they found it impracticable; small parties of Indians frequently destroying them, when about their farming business; so that in a few months no inhabitants were left, except those in the forts. Upon this I endeavoured to prevail on the assembly to keep garrisons in all these forts, but they refused, and some of them were burnt by the enemy; and for several months, Fort, Dummer was the furthermost fort on that frontier, which had a garrison in it, until I ordered a party of the levies raised for the Canada expedition to possess themselves of No. 4, to prevent it from being burnt or taken possession of by the enemy; and it happened fortunately that the soldiers arrived just time enough to save it from the enemy, who presently after attacked it in a large body; and a garrison has been kept there in the pay of the province ever since. Now though there be no settlements between No. 4 and Fort Dummer, yet I have always thought it necessary both should be supported. The first was useful for parties to go out from, against the enemy, and at the same time diverted them from spending their rage upon the defenceless people further within ; and Fort Dummer being nearer the settlements, I likewise thought necessary, because No. 4 being very remote, the enemy might sometimes have come within in small parties, destroyed the inhabitants and escaped without the notice of the garrison there; and which I have reason to think they have often been diverted from, for fear of a party from the garrison at Fort Dummer intercepting them on their return; and by means of these fortresses, the enemy have been kept more at a distance, and a less number of people have been destroyed on the frontiers than in any former wars.
I must now inform your lordships, that none of the forts upon the jaland frontiers are capable of resisting an enemy furnished with can
non; but yet Fort Dummer, with a suitable garrison, would never be in danger from any bodies of French and Indians, who come on our frontiers, as they never bring artillery. As to the artillery with which this fort has been furnished, there were four patararoes mounted before the war, and since the commencement of that, it has had two swivel guns and two four pounders.
Having never been on the spot myself, I cannot so well satisfy your lordships as to the conveniency of the situation. It was pitched upon as the most proper place, when it was built; and I have never heard any exceptions to it, but from Mr. Wentworth's letter; though if the province of New Hampshire had gone on to build the stone fort in the place they proposed, I cannot say but it might have been in many respects as convenient; but I never heard of any such proposal only in this letter; to be sure there never was any step taken to carry it into execution, as I have heard of.
I would observe, further, my lords, that Fort Dummer is but a few miles beyond a town called Northfield, part of which, by the new line, was taken from this province, and goes to New Hampshire; so that if the fort be removed within the line, it will be in the midst of the inhabitants, who all live in garrison houses themselves; and the principal end of such a fort, viz. keeping the enemy at a distance, or intercepting them on their return from our settlements, will be lost. And as for using it for a trading house, I am persuaded that the province will not go into such a trade again, if they can have peace without it; but if they are obliged to it, in such a case it will be most agreeable to the Indians to have a trading house at some distance from our settlements, and will be most convenient in other respects.
I wish, my lords, Mr. Wentworth had represented in his letter the whole that passed between him and me relating to this fort. When I received his majesty's order in council of the 26th September, 1748, I immediately acquainted Mr. Wentworth of it: and several letters passed between us; and at length he informed me that his assembly had refused to support the fort, and a copy of the vote of that assembly was laid before the assembly of this province; and I engaged them to continue the support which they agreed to. But this vote of New Hampshire being lost in a late fire, which consumed the court house, I cannot send your lordships a copy of it. Afterwards Mr. Wentworth prevailed on another assembly to agree to support this fort. The house of representatives of this province then desired me to draw in all the forces beyond the new line. Whereupon I wrote to Mr. Wentworth, and desired him to take possession of the fort, and send orders to the commanding officers to deliver it to him; but upon acquainting his majesty's council of this province with what I had done, they were of opinion that after New Hampshire had refused, according to the terms, and this province thereupon agreed to continue the support of it; I could not by his majesty's orders be justified in delivering it up until his majesty's pleasure should be known; and upon considering his
majesty's orders, I thought there was great room for such a construction. There was a jealousy besides, that it was the design of N. H. to make a short provision for this fort, and after they had got it out of the hands of this province, to slight it; for their proposed allowance to the soldiers was not half so much as was given by this government; and yet my soldiers were always complaining, that without additional allowance they could not subsist. So that upon the whole, I thought it my duty to countermand my first orders, and the fort has been supported by this government ever since.
I shall direct the commissary general to prepare an authentick account of the charge of supporting this fort since the war. And I cannot help observing to your lordships, that this is but a very inconsiderable part of the charge this province has been at beyond their line; but as your lordships have given no directions any further than respects this fort, I shall send no other accounts. I cannot but think, my lords, that the new running of west line certainly has a tendency to prevent the settlement of the country, for the inhabitants can have no dependence for sufficient protection, in case of war, from New Hampshire, within whose jurisdiction almost the whole western frontier now lies: nor indeed can it be expected from so small a government. And it has been with the greatest difficulty, that I have been able to prevail on this province to defend beyond their line, there being a very long frontier eastward, which lies within their bounds, and occasions a vast expense. However, I shall not presume to offer to your lordships any proposal, that may occasion any controversy between the two governI am, &c.
TWO ORIGINAL LETTERS FROM DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO THE HONOURABLE THOMAS CUSHING, Esq. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS.
London, February 15, 1774.
WROTE a line to you by the last packet, just to acquaint you there had been a hearing on our petition. I shall now give you the history of it as succinctly as I can.
I a to you by our pet now give you the
We had long imagined that the king would have considered that petition as he had done the preceding one in his cabinet, and have given an answer without a hearing, since it did not pray punishments or disabilities on the governours. But on Saturday, the 8th of January, in the afternoon, I received notice from the clerk of the council, that the lords of the committee for plantation affairs, would, on the Tuesday following at twelve, meet at the Cockpit, to take into consideration the petition referred to them by his majesty, and that my attendance was required.
I sent directly to Mr. A. Lee, requesting a meeting, that we might consult upon it. He was not at his chambers, but my note was left for him.
Sunday morning I went to Mr. Bollan, and communicated the affair to him. He had received a similar notice. We considered whether it was best to employ other counsel, since Mr. Lee, he said, could not be admitted as such, not being yet called to the bar: He thought it not advisable : He had sometimes done it in colony cases, and found lawyers of little service: Those who are eminent, and hope to rise in their profession, are unwilling to offend the court; and its disposition on this occasion was well known. But he would move to be heard in behalf of the council of the province, and thence take occasion to support the petition himself.
I went and sent again to Mr. Lee's chambers in the temple, but could not meet with him; and it was not till near the end of the week that I learnt he was at Bath.
On Monday, very late in the afternoon, I received another notice, that Mr. Mauduit, agent for the governour and lieutenant governour, had asked and obtained leave to be heard by counsel on the morrow in their behalf. This very short notice seemed intended to surprise
On Tuesday, we attended at the Cockpit, and the petition being read, I was called upon for what I had to offer in support of it, when, as had been concerted between us, I acquainted their lordships that Mf. Bollan, then present, in pursuance of their notice, would speak to it.
He came forward and began to speak; but objection was immediately made by some of the lords, that he being only agent for the council, which was not a party to this petition, he could not properly be heard on it: He however repeatedly endeavoured to obtain leave to speak, but without effect; they would scarce hear out a sentence, and finally set him aside.
I then said, that with the petition of the house of representatives I had received their resolutions which preceded it, and a copy of the letters on which those resolutions were founded, which I would lay before their lordships in support of the petition.
The resolutions were accordingly read; but when the letters were taken up, Mr. Wedderburne, the solicitor-general, brought there as counsel for the governours, began to object, and inquire how they were authenticated, as did also some of the lords. I said the authentications were annexed. They wanted to know the nature of them. I said that would appear, when they were read, and prayed they would hear them. Lord Chief Justice de Grey asked who the letters were directed to; and taking them in his hand, observed there was no address prefixed to any of them. I said, that though it did not appear to whom they were directed, it appeared who had written them; their names were subscribed; the originals had been shown to the gentlemen them
selves, and they had not denied their hand writing; and the testifications annexed proved these to be true copies. With difficulty I obtained to have the authentications read; and the solicitor-general proceeding to make observations as counsel for the governours, I said to their lordships, that it was some surprise to me to find counsel employed against the petition; that I had no notice of that intention till late in the preceding day; that I had not purposed troubling their lordships with the hearing of counsel, because I did not conceive that any thing could possibly arise out of the petition, any point of law or of right that might require the discussion of lawyers; that I apprehended this matter before their lordships was rather a question of civil or political prudence, whether, on the state of the fact that the governours had lost all trust and confidence with the people, and become universally obnoxious, it would be for the interest of his majesty's service to continue them in those stations in that province: That I conceived this to be a question of which their lordships were already perfect judges, and could receive no assistance in it from the arguments of counsel; but if counsel was to be heard on the other side, I must then request leave to bring counsel in behalf of the assembly, and that their lordships would be pleased to appoint a farther day for the hearing, to give time for preparing the counsel. Mr. Mauduit was then asked if he would wave the leave he had of being heard by counsel, that their lordships might proceed immediately to consider the petition. He said he was requested by the governours to defend them, and they had promised to defray the expense, by which he understood that they expected he should employ counsel; and then making me some compliments as if of superior abilities, said he should not against me hazard the defence of his friends by taking it upon himself. I said I had intended merely to lay the papers before their lordships, without making a single comment on them: But this did not satisfy; he chose to be heard by counsel. So finally I had leave to be heard by counsel also in behalf of the petition. The solicitor-general, finding his cavils against the admission of the letters were not supportable, at last said, that to save their lordships time he would admit the copies to be true transcripts of the originals, but he should reserve to himself a right, when the matter came on again, of asking certain questions, such as, how the assembly came into the possession of them, through what hands, and by what means they were procured? Certainly (replied Lord Chief Justice de Grey, somewhat austerely) and to whom they were directed; for the perfect understanding of the passages may depend on that and other such circumstances: We can receive no charge against a man founded on Jetters directed to nobody, and perhaps received by nobody: The laws of this country have no such practice." Lord President, near whom I stood, as I was putting up my papers, asked me if I intended to answer such questions. In that, I said, I shall take counsel. The day appoint ed for the hearing was the 29th of January.