FRANKLIN, Benjamin. Advertisement. Lancaster, April 26, 1755. Whereas 150 Waggons, with 4 horses to each Waggon, and 1500 Saddle orPack-Horses are wanted for the Service of his Majesty's Forces now about to Rendezvous at Will's Creek; and his Excellency General Braddock hath been pleased to impower me to contract for the Hire of the same; I hereby give Notice...I am, very sincerely and truly, your Friend and Well-wisher, B. Franklin. N.p., [Lancaster? William Dunlap?, 1755].
Folio broadside (13¼ x 8 1/8 in.). Headed "Advertisement," signed in type "B. Franklin," preserving untrimmed margins on three sides, (light mat-burn, irregular stain in central portion, minor losses along central vertical fold catching a few letters and part of the "T" at top, upper right-hand corner and weak folds professionally mended).
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR BROADSIDE, ONE OF ONLY THREE KNOWN COPIES: FRANKLIN URGENTLY SEEKS WAGONS, HORSES AND TEAMSTERS TO CARRY GENERAL BRADDOCK'S ARMY TO FORT DUQUESNE
This remarkable broadside consists of two letters of Franklin; the one at the top is dated Lancaster, 26 April 1755, the second, undated, from "camp at Frederick a few days since," addressed to "Inhabitants of the Counties of Lancaster, York and Cumberland." In a clear, carefully phrased appeal to his fellow Pennsylvanians, Franklin announces that he has been granted authority by General Braddock to contract for the hire of 150 wagons and 600 horses to transport the General's expeditionary force of British regulars and Colonial militia into the Alleghenies against the French (specifically, against Fort Duquesne). He specifies the per diem fees to be paid for the hire of wagons with four horses and driver, each "able horse" (with and without saddle and furniture) and promises that no teamsters or farriers "will be called upon to do the Duty of soldiers." In the second letter, Franklin reports that "I found the General and Officers of the Army extreamely exasperated, on account of their not being supply'd with Horses and Carriages, which had been expected from this Province [Pennsylvania]," due to the Colonial Assembly's reluctance to appropriate funds. As a consequence, there had been a proposal to send armed troops to forcibly requisition the needed wagons and compel the services of teamsters. Concerned that "the Progress of a Body of Soldiers thro' these Counties on such an Occasion," would be "attended with many and great Inconveniencies to the Inhabitants," arrangements have now been made for some 30 thousand pounds to be allocated for wagons and drivers. Persuasively, Franklin promises that "their Service will be light and easy, for the Army will scarce march above 12 Miles per Day," and urges that "loyal Subjects of His Majesty" enlist, for "the King's business must be done; so many brave Troops, come so far for your Defence, must not stand idle...." Finally, he points out that "I have no interest in this Affair...I shall only have my Labour for my Pains." He ends with a veiled threat: "If this Method of obtaining the Waggons and Horses is not like to succeed, I am oblig'd to send Word to the General in fourteen Days; and I suppose Sir John St. Clair the Hussar, with a Body of Soldiers, will immediately enter the Province, for the Purpose aforesaid, of which I shall be sorry to hear...."
Upon the arrival of Major General Edward Braddock to command British forces in North America, Franklin had helped arrange postal communications for the army. On 22-23 April 1755, he conferred with Braddock at Frederic (Fredericktown, Maryland), learned of the failure of efforts to hire wagons and teamsters and took on the task of securing an appropriation from the legislature for the purpose. Once funds were available, the needed wagons, farriers and teamsters began to sign up (one of them was Virginia-born Daniel Morgan, who would rise to the rank of General in the Revolutionary War). By June, when Braddock's army assembled at Will's Creek in prepartion for its journey to Fort Duquesne, his army was well supplied with wagons. The expedition, of course, culminated in the bloody ambush of 9 July, in which Braddock himself was mortally wounded.
VERY RARE: only two other copies are known (Boston Public Library, American Philosophical Society). As best we can determine, THIS IS THE ONLY COPY EVER OFFERED AT AUCTION. Evans 7346; Bristol B1711; Hildeburn 1394 (erroneously attributed to the Franklin and Hall press); see Miller, Franklin's Philadelphia Printing, B65.
Provenance: Charles A. Eicher (d.1951) -- William H. Eicher, his son -- the present owner.