Moving on from the calamity of January proved more difficult for Franklin than he anticipated. He had written to friends that he expected to leave England by the month of May 1774, looking to have the accounts settled by then for the post office operations in America. Several complications intervened. Chief among them was that Arthur Lee was not prepared, apparently, to begin service independently as Franklin’s successor agent for the Massachusetts House. In a letter to Thomas Cushing on April 2, 1774, Franklin harkens back to his letter to Cushing of February 2, immediately after the trial, in which he said that “after the treatment I received at the Council, it was no longer possible for me to act as agent, apprehending I could … be of no further use to the Province.” Yet, he added, “I have nevertheless given what assistance I could as a private man, by speaking to members of both houses [of Parliament] and by joining in petitions [of other Americans now living in London] ably drawn by Mr. Lee.” The petitions or protests were against the Coercive Acts passed that spring and given the King’s assent with uncommon efficiency and consensus.
Lee did not leave (for his expected tour of France and Italy) until the end of May, according to Franklin’s letter to Cushing of June 1. “On his departure,” Franklin reported, “[Lee] returned all the papers [of the agency] [to me], and I feel under … necessity to continue” until the House can make other arrangements for representation in London.