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Pennsylvania Prepares to Meet French Encroachments at Start of French and Indian War
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This issue of Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette includes communications between Lieutenant Governor Robert Hunter Morris and the Pennsylvania General Assembly regarding responses to the French threat on the western border of the colony. Conflict between French and English forces there erupted into the French and Indian War, and globally into the Seven Years’ War.

It also includes details of a lecture by Ebenezer Kinnersley, a partner of Benjamin Franklin in experiments on electricity, and a brief notice of George Whitefield’s sermons in New York City.

[FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR]. Pennsylvania Gazette, December 19, 1754. Newspaper. Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin and David Hall. 6 pp., 9¼ x 14½ in.

Inventory #22426.11       Price: $2,800


Lieutenant Governor Robert Hunter Morris to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, December 3, 1754

I think it my lay before you a Letter I have since received from Sir Thomas Robinson, one of His Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, signifying to me, ‘His Majesty’s express Commands, that I should not only act vigorously in Defence of the Government under my Care; but that I should likewise be aiding and assisting His Majesty’s other Colonies, to repel any hostile Attempts made against them.’” (p1/c1)

many Things have happened since the Retreat from the Forks of Mohongialo [Monangahela], that have put our Affairs upon the Frontiers in a very bad Situation, much worse than His Majesty and His Ministers have any Knowledge of, or than they can possibly imagine.... From the Letters and Intelligence I have ordered to be laid before you, it will appear that the French have now, at their Fort at Mohongialo, above a Thousand regular Troops, besides Indians; that they are well supply’d with Provisions, and that they have lately received an additional Number of Cannon....” (p1/c1)

These Encroachments of the French upon the Territories of the Crown of Britain in America, have turned the Eyes of Europe to this Quarter of the World, as it is uncertain what Effects they may produce....” (p1/c1)

I cannot therefore admit myself to doubt but you will enter seriously upon the Consideration of this important Affair, and, by enabling me to carry the King’s Commands into full Execution, convince His Majesty of your Readiness to pay Obedience to His Royal Orders, set a seasonable and noble Example to the other Colonies, and shew your Constituents, that you have nothing more at Heart than to secure to them, and their Posterity, the Continuance of the many invaluable Blessings they enjoy.” (p1/c1-2)

Robert Hunter Morris (1700-1764) served as “lieutenant governor” (Thomas Penn in England was technically “governor”) of Pennsylvania from 1754 to 1756 and as Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1739 to 1764, appointed by his father Lewis Morris, governor of New Jersey. He often clashed with Benjamin Franklin over the right of the General Assembly to tax the Penns’ lands in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania General Assembly to Lieutenant Governor Morris, December 12, 1754

as we account it our indispensable Duty to do every Thing in our Power to comply with His Majesty’s Royal Orders, or that may contribute to the Welfare of the People we represent, we have chearfully, and almost unanimously, resolved to grant Twenty Thousand Pounds for the King’s Use....” (p1/c2)


London, October 15, 1754

By an Account brought from France we are informed, that they seem quite unconcerned at the Succour we are going to afford our Colonies, and that the Report of their being upon the Point of embarking 4000 Forces is entirely groundless; and we may presume our Ministry would naturally take the Alarm, and require a categorical Answer from that Court, with regard to the Destination of so formidable a Body of Forces; nevertheless, we are assured, they are continually sending single Ships only with two or three Hundred Soldiers in each, which prevents any Enquiry being made.” (p2/c3)


New York, December 16, 1754

Friday last the Reverend Mr. WHITEFIELD arrived here from Boston, and the next Evening, and thrice Yesterday, preached in the Presbyterian Church in this City, to crowded Auditories. In some of these Discourses, ’tis said, he again expiated on the Encroachments of our Popish Enemies, and on the cruel and persecuting Principles of that Religion; with some Reflections on a late Account of a fresh Persecution of the Protestants in France.” (p3/c1)

George Whitefield (1714-1770) was an Anglican minister and one of the founders of Methodism. He first came to the British American colonies as a parish priest in Savannah in 1738. He returned to England to raise funds for an orphanage to be built in Georgia and began preaching to large congregations. When he returned to America in 1740, he preached a series of revivals that became known as the Great Awakening. By 1754, he was a celebrity and preached in cities from Boston to Georgia as part of his fifth voyage to America.


For the Entertainment of the Curious, It is proposed to exhibit, in the Christmas Holydays, in one of the Chambers of the Academy, a Course of Experiments on that new Branch of Natural Philosophy, called ELECTRICITY; to be accompanied with methodical Lectures on the Nature and Properties of that wonderful Element. By EBENEZER KINNERSLEY.” (p5/c1)

Ebenezer Kinnersley (1711-1778) was born in Gloucester, England, and came to America as a small child in 1714. As a Baptist lay preacher in Philadelphia, he opposed what he considered the emotional excesses of the Great Awakening in 1740. He was a professor of English in the Academy of Philadelphia from 1753 to 1772, and associated with Benjamin Franklin in electrical experimentation. He made several significant discoveries of his own in electricity. With Franklin’s help, Kinnersley first began giving lectures on electricity in Philadelphia in 1751.


Additional Content

This issue also includes a message from Governor Morris regarding provisions for Native Americans allied with the British who had fled from the French in western Pennsylvania (p1/c2); another message from Governor Morris regarding the presence of a “contagious distemper” among some immigrants to the city (p1/c3); foreign news from Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, London, and other European cities (p1/c3-p2/c2); colonial news from Annapolis (p2/c3); lengthy advertisements from merchants (p3-6); and various notices including one offering for sale a “likely Negroe boy, about 15 or 16 years of age, speaks pretty good English,” and several offering rewards for runaway English, Dutch, Scotch, and Irish servants (p3/c2, p4/c1, p5/c2).


The Pennsylvania Gazette(1728-1800) was first published by Samuel Keimer as The Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences: and Pennsylvania Gazette; it was the second newspaper to be published in Pennsylvania. In October 1729, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and Hugh Meredith (ca. 1697-1749) purchased the newspaper and shortened the title to The Pennsylvania Gazette. It became the most successful newspaper in the colonies by the mid-1730s. In 1748, Franklin retired from business but retained an interest in The Pennsylvania Gazette. He left the management of the newspaper to partner David Hall (1714-1772). In 1752, Franklin published a third-person account of his kite experiment, and in 1754, printed the first political cartoon in America, “Join, or Die.” In 1766, Franklin completed the sale of his share of the printing business to Hall, and Hall made William Sellers (1725-1804) his partner.  After Hall’s death, his sons, David Hall Jr. (1755-1821) and William Hall (1752-1834), joined the firm with Sellers. The newspaper suspended publication from November 1776 to February 1777, and again during the British occupation of Philadelphia from September 1777 to January 1779.


Condition: Toned with some dampstaining. Will greatly benefit from proper conservation and leafcasting. Tight, uneven margins with numerous areas impacting text. Overall Fair to About Good.

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