Proclamation by his Excellency William Franklin, Esquire

dc.contributor.authorFranklin, William
dc.contributor.authorNew Jersey. Office of the Governor
dc.descriptionProclamation offering reward for the return of the stolen East Jersey treasury. In 1768 New Jersey was ruled by England, George the third was the king and his representative in New Jersey was William Franklin, the illegitimate son of Ben, and the last royal governor of the colony.en_US
dc.descriptionOn the night of July 21st, a person or persons broke into the Perth Amboy home of the East Jersey treasurer, Stephen Skinner and stole the contents of a locked chest; the sum of six thousand, seven hundred and fifty pounds, which was the entire state treasury. Mr. Skinner was in the habit of keeping the money in his house for safekeeping but the burglars had found a spare key to the locked chest in a desk drawer when they were ransacking the office. Skinner immediately got word of the theft to Governor Franklin.
dc.descriptionPre-revolutionary New Jersey was not a state which witnessed a great deal of tumult. Then, as now, localism was prevalent and there were not many colony-wide organizations. Governor Franklin was seen as a fair and steady governor who had amiable relations with the elected assembly.
dc.descriptionGovernor Franklin immediately ordered news be published in the press and offered a reward of fifty pounds for information. Stephen Skinner offered an additional hundred pounds out of his own pocket. The Governor also consulted with the Council (the early equivalent of the state senate) and the Attorney General who recommended that Chief Justice be authorized to make a “strict inquiry” into the means employed by Skinner to safeguard public funds and to examine in minute detail all the events and circumstances surrounding the robbery.
dc.descriptionOn July 25th (just four days later) Skinner and his sixteen year old apprentice, William Campbell appeared before the Chief Justice to give testimony about the burglary. Both agreed that when William Campbell had arrived at the office he had found the door locked but the window open, the thieves had left one hundred and seventy pounds in the chest and placed Skinner’s sword on the table. Why they left money and put the sword on the table and why also they did not wake up Bob, Skinner’s slave who was sleeping nearby, was a puzzle.
dc.descriptionFranklin and Skinner appeared before the Assembly and were very apologetic but the Assembly was not content. The loss of the Treasury money was a great blow to the poor, under populated colony. Suspicion even fell upon Skinner himself though after the legislature had conducted their own investigation they found that he had not practiced the necessary “security and care” to safeguard the funds and that he was to repay the money.
dc.descriptionNothing happened for a long time but in 1772 when a new Assembly convened they once again brought up the issue and demanded repayment even though it would bankrupt Skinner. They also called upon Franklin to dismiss Skinner and threatened to hold back money to run the government until he did so. This was a bold move as the governor, as the representative of the king was the only one with the power to appoint and dismiss officials. Franklin refused and he dismissed the Assembly for a month.
dc.descriptionThe issue was not forgotten when the Assembly reconvened they did withhold all funds from the government suspending all public business. Skinner, under pressure from Franklin, finally resigned and he was replaced by the Assembly’s choice for Treasurer. There was continued talk about reclaiming money from Skinner but eventually the Revolution occurred and Skinner, a loyalist, fled to Canada.
dc.descriptionThis story is significant because it demonstrates the increased willingness of the legislature to challenge the authority of the King.
dc.descriptionThe money was never recovered.
dc.identifier.otherO J974.9 N53 no.24 VAULT
dc.publisherPhiladelphia, PA: William Doddarden_US
dc.subjectNew Jerseyen_US
dc.titleProclamation by his Excellency William Franklin, Esquireen_US


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