Front Page Titles (by Subject) DXIX: TO SAMUEL MATHER 1 - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. VI Letters and Misc. Writings 1772-1775
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DXIX: TO SAMUEL MATHER 1 - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. VI Letters and Misc. Writings 1772-1775 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. VI (Letters and Misc. Writings 1772-1775).
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TO SAMUEL MATHER1
London, 7 July, 1773.
By a line of the 4th past, I acknowledged the receipt of your favor of March 18th, and sent you with it two pamphlets. I now add another, a spirited address to the bishops who opposed the Dissenters’ petition. It is written by a dissenting minister at York. There is preserved at the end of it a little fugitive piece of mine, written on the same occasion.
I perused your tracts with pleasure. I see you inherit all the various learning of your famous ancestors, Cotton and Increase Mather, both of whom I remember. The father, Increase, I once, when a boy, heard preach at the Old South for Mr. Pemberton, and remember his mentioning the death of “that wicked old persecutor of God’s people, Louis XIV.,” of which news had just been received, but which proved premature. I was, some years afterwards, at his house at the North End, on some errand to him, and remember him sitting in an easy chair, apparently very old and feeble. But Cotton I remember in the vigor of his preaching and usefulness.
You have made the most of your argument to prove that America might be known to the ancients. There is another discovery of [mutilated] by the Norwegians, which you have not mentioned, unless it be under the words “of old viewed and observed,” page 7. About twenty-five years since, Professor Kalm, a learned Swede, was with us in Pennsylvania. He contended that America was discovered by their northern people long before the time of Columbus, which I doubting, he drew up and gave me, some time after, a note of those discoveries, which I send you enclosed. It is his own handwriting, and his own English, very intelligible for the time he had been among us. The circumstances give the account a great appearance of authenticity. And if one may judge by the description of the winter, the country they visited should be southward of New England, supposing no change since that time of the climate. But if it be true, as Krantz, I think, and other historians tell us, that old Greenland, once inhabited and populous, is now rendered uninhabited by ice, it should seem that the almost perpetual northern winter had gained ground to the southward, and if so, perhaps more northern countries might anciently have had vines than can bear them in these days.
The remarks you have added, on the late proceedings against America, are very just and judicious; and I cannot at all see any impropriety in your making them, though a minister of the gospel. This kingdom is a good deal indebted for its liberties to the public spirit of its ancient clergy, who joined with the barons in obtaining Magna Charta, and joined heartily in forming the curses of excommunication against the infringers of it. There is no doubt but the claim of Parliament, of authority to make laws binding on the colonists in all cases whatsoever, includes an authority to change our religious constitution, and establish Popery or Mahometanism, if they please, in its stead; but, as you intimate, power does not infer right; and, as the right is nothing, and the power, by our increase, continually diminishing, the one will soon be as insignificant as the other. You seem only to have made a small mistake, in supposing they modestly avoided to declare they had a right, the words of the act being, “that they have and of right ought to have, full power, etc.”
Your suspicion “that sundry others, besides Governor Bernard, had written hither their opinions and counsels, encouraging the late measures to the prejudice of our country, which have been too much heeded and followed,” is, I apprehend, but too well founded. You call them “traitorous individuals,” whence I collect that you suppose them of our own country. There was among the twelve Apostles one traitor who betrayed with a kiss. It should be no wonder, therefore, if among so many thousand true patriots as New England contains, there should be found even twelve Judases ready to betray their country for a few paltry pieces of silver. Their ends, as well as their views, ought to be similar. But all these oppressions evidently work for our good. Providence seems by every means intent on making us a great people. May our virtues public and private grow with us, and be durable, that liberty, civil and religious, may be secured to our posterity, and to all from every part of the Old World that take refuge among us.
With great esteem, and my best wishes for a long continuance of your usefulness, I am, reverend sir, your most obedient humble servant,
[1 ]A clergyman of Boston, and son of the celebrated Cotton Mather.