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Lesson One

Reading 4

The Philadelphia Mob

When the Stamp Act was signed into law, George Grenville contacted Franklin and asked if he could recommend colonists who might serve as stamp distributors. Franklin recommended several men, including a colleague from Pennsylvania, John Hughes. Franklin appeared to be cooperating with the British by recommending stamp agents. As the Stamp Act crisis deepened, mobs began to talk of attacking the Hughes and Franklin homes. In September Hughes and Franklin’s wife, Deborah, lived in their respective homes under a state of siege. Deborah had turned the downstairs of the Franklin home into a powder magazine. On the evening of September 16 a crowd gathered outside the Hughes and Franklin homes and were prevented from burning them by Franklin’s friends who surrounded the houses. Hughes and Deborah Franklin kept accounts of events that were taking place.

John Hughes’ Account

Sept. 12. Our clamors run very high, and I am told my house shall be pull’d down and the Stamps burnt. To which I give no other Answer than that I will defend my House at the Risque of my Life. I must say, that all the sensible Quakers behave prudently.

Sept. 16, in the Evening. Common Report threat[ens] my House this Night, as there are Bonfires and Rejoicings for the Change of Ministry [Rockingham replaced Grenville]. The sober and sensible part of the People are doing everything towards being in Readiness to suppress a Mob if there should be any Intention of Rising. I for my Part am well-arm’d with Fire-Arms, and am determin’d to stand a Siege. If I live till tomorrow morning I shall give you a farther Account; but as it is now about 8 aClock, I am on my Guard, and only write this between whiles, as every Noise or Bustle of the People calls me off.

9 o’Clock. Several Friends that patrol between my House and the Coffee House, come in just now, and say, the Collection of Rabble begins to decrease visibly in the Streets, and the Appearance of Danger seems a good deal less that it did.

12 o’Clock. There are now several Hundreds of our Friends bout Street, ready to suppress any Mob, if it should attempt to rise, and the Rabble are dispersing.

Sept. 17.5 in the morning. We are all yet in the land of the living, and our property safe. Thank God.


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