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Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. XII Letters and Misc. Writings 1788-1790, Supplement, Indexes [1904]

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Benjamin Franklin, 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. XII (Letters and Misc. Writings 1788-1790, Supplement, Indexes).

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About this Title:

Volume 12 of a 12 volume collection of Franklin’s works. Vol. 12 contains letters and miscellaneous writings from 1788 to 1790, and additional letters from 1743 to 1785, and Indexes.

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Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [a]


Limited to 1,000 signed and numbered sets.

The Connoisseur’s Federal Edition of the Writings of Benjamin Franklin is limited to four hundred signed and numbered sets, of which this is


We guarantee that no limited, numbered edition, other than the Federal, shall be printed from these plates.

The written number must correspond with the perforated number at top of this page.

Edition: current; Page: [b]
Edition: current; Page: [c]

Benjamin Franklin

From the painting by Greutze

Edition: current; Page: [d]

The Works of Benjamin Franklin in Twelve Volumes

Federal Edition

Edition: current; Page: [i]
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

“Strange that Ulysses does a thousand things so well.”

Iliad, B. 11, 335
Volume XII
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Edition: current; Page: [iii]


When the Editor undertook this publication he had good reasons for believing that he was in possession of all the important correspondence and writings of Franklin which had servived him; but, as the work progressed, he has realized more fully than ever before that the task of the Danaïdes was scarcely more difficult or discouraging than that of making a complete collection of the correspondence and writings of a man who stood in so many different and important relations to his contemporaries as Franklin did. The harvest, instead of diminishing with the lapse of time, seems to increase by cultivation. Over two hundred documents upon which the stamp of Franklin’s genius had been impressed, and which are entitled to a place in any collection of his works, have been placed in the Editor’s hands since the publication of the first two volumes. The larger number of these, unfortunately, reached him after the documents of corresponding date had gone to press. It thus became necessary to provide for them in a supplement, which will be found at the end of this volume. For the opportunity of enriching his work with these papers he desires to recognize his special obligations to Mr. B. F. Stevens, who kindly placed the whole of his important collection of Frankliniana at the Editor’s disposal; to Mr. S. G. W. Benjamin, Edition: current; Page: [iv] to whom he is indebted for most of the letters from Franklin to Strahan that appear in this work, and which constitute a very important contribution to our knowledge of Franklin as a man of business. He has also to confess his great obligations to Mr. Worthington C. Ford, of the State Department, Washington, of whose precise and extensive acquaintance with the resources of the government archives he has been permitted freely to avail himself; and to his brother, Mr. Paul L. Ford, and their father, whose collections of autographs and other memorials of our early history no student of our early annals can afford to neglect.

The Editor is unwilling to take final leave of a work which has been to him almost a daily joy for several years, without again acknowledging his special obligations to the Hon. Thomas F. Bayard, Secretary of State, and of his predecessor, the Hon. F. T. Frelinghuysen, for an unrestricted access to the priceless collections of the State Department at Washington.

21 Gramercy Park,
Edition: current; Page: [v]


  • 1788
  • MDXV.—To John Ingenhousz, October 24th . . . . . . page 3

    Impaired health—The steamboat.

  • MDXVI.—To M. Le Veillard, October 24th 4
  • MDXVII.—To Benjamin Vaughan, October 24th . . . . . . 7

    The autobiography—Turkish war—Price—Priestley.

  • MDXVIII.—To M. Le Roy, October 25th . . 9

    The new boat propelled by steam.

  • MDXIX.—To Don Diego Gardoqui, Minister from the Court of Spain, October 26th . . . . . 10

    Asks protection for a commercial expedition to New Orleans.

  • MDXX.—To Mr. Elam, November 10th . . 11

    Declines jurisdiction of a sectarian squabble.

  • MDXXI.—Wm. T. Franklin to M. Le Veillard, November 17th . . . 12
  • MDXXII.—To Mr. Francis Childs, November 19th . . . . . . 15

    Asks payment of a debt.

  • MDXXIII.—To Mrs. Elizabeth Partridge, November 25th . . . . 15

    His health—Children and grandchildren—Loss of his letter books.

    Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • MDXXIV.—To Mrs. Jane Mecom, November 26th . . . . . . 18

    The story of the poker—The vacant mitre.

  • MDXXV.—To Charles Thomson, November 29th . . . . . . 19

    Franklin’s public services.

  • MDXXVI.—To the President of Congress, November 29th . . . . 28

    Requesting a settlement of his accounts.

  • MDXXVII.—To Wm. Vaughan, December 9th 31

    Progress with the autobiography.

  • MDXXVIII.—To the Abbé Morellet, December 10th . . . . . . 33

    Irregularity of the mails—Griffonage of Madame Helvetius—American songs and music—Gouverneur Morris—The autobiography.

  • MDXXIX.—From Miss Catherine Louisa Shipley, December 24th . . . 35

    Death of the Bishop of St. Asaph.

  • MDXXX.—From Richard Price, December . 37

    Death of the Bishop of St. Asaph.

  • MDXXXI.—A Thought Concerning the Sugar Islands . . . . . 39
  • MDXXXII.—Reflections on the Augmentation of Wages which will be Occasioned in Europe by the American Revolution . . . . 41
  • MDXXXIII.—Observations on War . . . 55
  • MDXXXIV.—The Claims of the American Loyalists: an Apologue . . . 58
  • MDXXXV.—Analysis of the American Loyalists . . . . . . 60
  • MDXXXVI.—Catalogue List of British Cruelties . . . . . . 61 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • MDXXXVII.—The Prospect for Emigrants to America . . . . . 64
  • 1789
  • MDXXXVIII.—To Alexander Small, February 19th . . . . . . 65

    Remedies for the stone—Alleviator of deafness.

  • MDXXXIX.—To Mrs. Catherine Greene, March 2d . . . . . . 67

    Sweet corn—The farmer’s life.

  • MDXL.—From Benjamin Vaughan, March 4th . . . . . . 69

    The autobiography — Last days of the “good bishop”—War and heresy—The king of Sweden—Rumsey—The king of England—Pitt and Fox and Sheridan.

  • MDXLI.—To Miss Catherine Louisa Shipley, April 27th . . . . . 71

    On the death of her father.

  • MDXLII.—To Charles Carroll, May 25th . 73
  • MDXLIII.—To Richard Price, May 31st . . 73
  • MDXLIV.—Observations Relative to the Intentions of the Original Founders of the Academy in Philadelphia, June . . . . 74
  • MDXLV.—To Benjamin Vaughan, June 3d . 104

    The autobiography.

  • MDXLVI.—Hints for Consideration Respecting the Orphan Schoolhouse in Philadelphia . . . . 105
  • MDXLVII.—Contemplated Restraint upon Emigration . . . . . 107
  • MDXLVIII.—Wail of a Protected Manufacturer . . . . . . 107
  • MDXLIX.—On Sending Felons to America . 108
  • MDL.—The Retort Courteous . . . 111
  • MDLI.—To Mrs. Jane Mecom, August 3d . 124 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • MDLII.—Inscription for the Philadelphia Library, August 29th . . 125
  • MDLIII.—On a Late Auspicious Marriage . 126
  • MDLIV.—To M. Le Veillard, September 5th 127

    His health — Unable to continue the memoirs.

  • MDLV.—An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz., the Court of the Press, September 12th . . 129
  • MDLVI.—To George Washington, September —— . . . . . 135

    Plan for improving the condition of the free blacks.

  • MDLVII.—To George Washington, September 16th . . . . . 137
  • MDLVIII.—To the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, September 21st . 138

    Recommending the selection of M. Le Roy de Chaumont for Minister Plenipotentiary from France to the United States.

  • MDLIX.—From George Washington, September 23d . . . . . 139
  • MDLX.—To Mrs. Jane Mecom, October 19th . . . . . . 140
  • MDLXI.—To Mr. Urban, October 20th . 140

    Corrects an error in his magazine about Americans.

  • MDLXII.—To M. de Chaumont, October 31st 142

    Declines to lend him money—Loss sustained from the sale of bills in France—Advice to remain in the United States a few months longer to look after his claims before Congress.

  • MDLXIII.—To Robert Morris, November 2d 144

    Asks to have his accounts with the government settled.

  • MDLXIV.—To James Logan, November 2d . 144

    Urges the filling of vacant trusteeships.

    Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • MDLXV.—To Benjamin Vaughan, November 2d . . . . . . 145

    Queries and remarks respecting alterations in the constitution of Pennsylvania.

  • MDLXVI.—To John Wright, November 4th . 149

    United States — Abolition of the slave trade.

  • MDLXVII.—From the Princess of Daschkoff, November 4th . . . . 152

    Notice of his election as a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

  • MDLXVIII.—To Samuel Moore, November 5th 153
  • MDLXIX.—To Alexander Small, November 5th . . . . . . 155

    Poor laws — American loyalists — The French and English governments.

  • MDLXX.—An Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, November 9th . . 157
  • MDLXXI.—To M. Le Veillard, November 13th . . . . . . 159

    Sends a portion of the autobiography—Invites careful criticism—Troubles in Paris.

  • MDLXXII.—To M. Le Roy, November 13th . 160

    The trouble in France.

  • MDLXXIII.—To M. de Chaumont, November 14th . . . . . . 161

    His claims upon Congress.

  • MDLXXIV.—To David Hartley, December 4th 163

    Convulsions in France.

  • MDLXXV.—To Mrs. Jane Mecom, December 17th . . . . . . 164
  • MDLXXVI.—To ———, December 17th . . 165

    The man that saved his life.

    Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • MDLXXVII.—To Noah Webster, December 26th 166

    The English language—Misuse of words in America—Universality of the French tongue—Improvements in printing.

  • MDLXXVIII.—From John Paul Jones, December 27th . . . . . . 174

    On his leaving the service of the Empress of Russia.

  • MDLXXIX.—Queries and Remarks Respecting Alterations in the Constitution of Pennsylvania . . . 175
  • 1790
  • MDLXXX.—To ———, January 19th . . 182

    Construction of the treaty of commerce between France and the United States.

  • MDLXXXI.—To Ezra Stiles, March 9th . . 183

    Consents to have his portrait taken—Explains his religious views.

  • MDLXXXII.—On the Slave Trade, March 23d . 187
  • MDLXXXIII.—To Mrs. Jane Mecom, March 24th 193
  • MDLXXXIV.—To Thomas Jefferson, April 8th . 194
  • MDLXXXV.—From William Temple Franklin to M. Le Veillard, May 22d . . 196

    Announces his grandfather’s death.

  • MDLXXXVI.—Franklin’s Last Will and Testament . . . . . . 200
  • MDLXXXVII.—Franklin’s Epitaph Written by Himself . . . . . 224
  • 1743
  • To William Strahan, July 10th . . . . 227

    Commencement of Franklin’s acquaintance with Hall, afterwards his partner in business.

    Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • 1744
  • To William Strahan, July 4th . . . . . 228

    Mr. Hall—Business prospects—The French war—A naval disaster.

  • To William Strahan, July 31st . . . . 230
  • 1745
  • To William Strahan, April 14th . . . . 231

    Order for books.

  • To William Strahan, April 14th . . . . 232
  • To William Strahan, December 11th . . . 232

    Orders and remittances.

  • To William Strahan, December 22d . . . 233
  • 1746
  • To William Strahan, May 22d . . . . . 233
  • To William Strahan, September 25th . . . 234

    Orders and remittances, and congratulations on the defeat of Jacobinism—French fleet off Cape Sable.

  • 1747
  • To William Strahan, January 1st . . . . 235
  • To William Strahan, January 4th . . . . 236
  • To William Strahan, July 29th . . . . 237

    The Universal History.

  • To William Strahan, November 28th . . . 238
  • 1748
  • To William Strahan, October 19th . . . . 239

    William Franklin abandons the purpose of entering the army—Dr. Franklin establishes a printing house at Antigua Prospect of visiting England.

  • To William Strahan, November 23d . . . . 241

    Sends a fireplace to the Duke of Argyle.

  • To J. Read, December 5th . . . . . 242

    Rebukes him for his inhumanity to a creditor.

    Edition: current; Page: [xii]
  • 1749
  • To William Strahan, April 29th . . . . 243

    Mr. Read’s debt to Strahan.

  • To William Strahan, July 3d . . . . . 247
  • To William Strahan, October 23d . . . . 248
  • 1750
  • To William Strahan, February 4th . . . . 249

    Desires his son William entered in one of the Inns of Court in London as a student of law.

  • To William Strahan, June 2d . . . . . 250

    Legacy of Aletta Crell—Debts of the Canada expedition—The absurdity of wishing to die worth a great sum.

  • 1751
  • To William Strahan, June 28th . . . . 252
  • To William Strahan, July 19th . . . . 253
  • To William Strahan, September 22d . . . 253
  • From Mrs. Deborah Franklin to William Strahan, December 24th . . . . . . . 254
  • 1752
  • To Jared Eliot, February 11th . . . . 255

    On his agricultural essays.

  • To William Strahan, March 21st . . . . 256
  • To William Strahan, August 8th . . . . 257

    Bower’s History of the Popes—Introduces Rev. Matthias Harris.

  • To John Franklin, December 8th . . . . 258

    A flexible catheter—Whytt on lime-water.

  • 1753
  • To William Strahan, May 9th . . . . . 261

    A nephew settled at Antigua—Orders.

    Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
  • To William Strahan, June 4th . . . . 262
  • To William Strahan, October 27th . . . . 262

    Another nephew establishes at New Haven—Orders for his outfit.

  • 1754
  • To William Strahan, April 18th . . . . 265

    A caution about Benjamin Mecom in orders and remittances.

  • To William Strahan, April 28th . . . . 266
  • 1755
  • To William Strahan, October 7th . . . . 267
  • To William Strahan. November 27th . . . 269

    Further cautions about Benjamin Mecom—The Gentleman’s Magazine in America.

  • 1756
  • To William Strahan, July 2d . . . . . 271

    Benjamin Mecom sells out his business in Antigua.

  • To William Strahan, July 27th . . . . 272

    Lord Loudon—The new governor.

  • To William Strahan, December 31st . . . 273

    Benjamin Mecom to settle in Boston—William Franklin in London.

  • 1757
  • To William Strahan, January 1st . . . . 274
  • To William Strahan, January 31st . . . . 275

    Prospect of being sent to England.

  • To William Strahan . . . . . . . 276

    Letter of condolence on the death of a member of his family.

  • 1759
  • To Dr. William Heberden, June 7th . . . 276

    Electrical experiments with tourmalins.

  • 1761
  • To Miss Mary Stevenson, August 10th . . . 279

    The distillation of fresh from salt water—Thirst cured by immersion.

    Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • 1762
  • To Rev. M———, March 30th . . . . . 281

    About a slippery debtor.

  • To William Strahan, June 14th . . . . 283

    Commending to his charity an unprosperous merchant.

  • To Jared Ingersoll, December 11th . . . . 284

    What distinguishes Connecticut religion from common religion?

  • 1763
  • To William Strahan, March 28th . . . . 285

    Franklin’s expenses in England as agent—The colonies indebted to him—Commends the peace.

  • To ——— May 9th . . . . . . . 286
  • To William Strahan, June 28th . . . . . 287

    Indian hostilities renewed—Bad report from England.

  • To William Strahan, August 8th . . . . 289
  • To William Strahan (?), December 19th . . . 290

    Franklin’s cheerful view of the situation—Optimistic forecast of King George’s reign.

  • 1764
  • To Governor Bernard, January 11th . . . 291
  • To Mr. Todd, Secretary of the General Post-office, January 16th . . . . . . 292

    The transport of mails by night as well as day first required on the route between New York and Philadelphia.

  • To Colonel Bouquet, August 16th . . . . 293

    Defends himself from the charge of being an obstructor of his Majesty’s service.

  • To William Strahan (?), September 1st . . . 295

    Enemies—Preface to Galloway’s speech against the proprietary party—The butt of party rage and malice.

  • To Anthony Todd, Esq., September 2d . . . 296

    Troubles with the Indians.

  • To Colonel Bouquet, September 30th . . . 299

    Voltaire on religious toleration.

  • To Anthony Todd, Esq., November 6th . . . 302

    Colonel Bouquet’s expedition.

  • 1767
  • To Peter Collinson, July 13th . . . . 303

    The sepulchres of the Scythian kings.

    Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • 1769
  • To Anthony Todd, Esq., October 29th . . . 304

    Why the people of Nantucket came to engage in the whale fishery.

  • 1770
  • To Rev. Dr. Cooper, December 30th . . . 306

    Receives an appointment as agent of the province of Massachusetts—The power of Parliament to abridge the chartered privileges of the colonies contested—Every lady of Genoa not a queen of Corsica—The provincial governors to be made independent of the people for their salaries—How to check this policy.

  • 1771
  • To Humphrey Marshall, April 22d . . . . 310

    Commends industry and frugality—Colonies that produce provisions grow fast—Every manufacturer makes part of a market.

  • To Thomas Cushing, June 10th . . . . . 312

    “A scurrilous and very wicked letter”—Impolicy of continuing the general court at Cambridge—Portrait of Lord Hillsborough, the American Secretary—Objections to pensioning civil servants in America out of the royal treasury—Advises the improvement of the militia and the encouragement of domestic manufactures—The Senator’s Remembrancer—Caution about posting letters.

  • 1772
  • To Thomas Cushing, January 13th . . . . 320

    “Very remarkable and requires no commentaries”—Visits Lord Hillsborough in Ireland—His duplicity—Lord Kilivaring—Opening of the Irish Parliament—The members friendly to America—Admitted to a seat in the House by a unanimous vote—Poverty and destitution of the people—The Wheelwright debt.

  • 1773
  • To ———, July 7th . . . . . . . 330

    The black poetess.

  • 1774
  • To Governor William Franklin, February 2d . . 330

    Franklin announces his removal from the office of Deputy Postmaster—Leaves his son to his own reflections about the propriety of resigning also.

    Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • To Governor William Franklin, February 18th . 331

    Renews his recommendation that his son resign the governorship of New Jersey.

  • To John Ingenhousz, March 18th . . . . 332

    Franklin’s examination before the Privy Council—Lost no friends by it—Mr. Walsh’s discoveries in electricity.

  • To William Franklin, August 1st . . . . 333

    Education of William Temple Franklin—Differs with his son about the liability of Massachusetts for the tea destroyed in Boston harbor.

  • To William Franklin, September 7th . . . 335
  • 1775
  • To Governor William Franklin, May 7th . . . 337

    Thinks independence more honorable than any service.

  • 1777
  • To Jonathan Williams, December 22d . . . 338
  • Memorandum of Dr. Franklin, May 6th . . . 338

    Proposed interview with the Emperor Joseph.

  • 1778
  • To Monsieur de Tavarez, Seigneur de Relaar, Docteur en Droit et en Médecine à Zwolle en Hollande, January 4th . . . . . 339
  • To M. Dumas, September 22d . . . . . 339
  • 1779
  • To De Chaumont, May 10th . . . . . 340

    Lafayette—The States-General promise aid.

  • To Commodore Jones, December 6th . . . . 341

    English prisoners and the States-General.

  • 1780
  • To the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress, February 26th . . . 341

    The memorial of Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Wharton—The Walpole grant—Petition to Congress to be indemnified for losses in consequence of the failure of the Walpole grant.

    Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
  • To Captain Paul Jones, March 1st . . . . 367

    Capt. Landais—Mr. Lockyer—Dr. Bancroft.

  • To Commodore Paul Jones, March 8th . . . 368
  • To Commodore Paul Jones, June 1st . . . 369

    Orders for the return of the frigate Alliance.

  • To Commodore Paul Jones, June 12th . . . 370

    Continuation of the troubles with Captain Landais.

  • To Commodore Paul Jones, June 27th . . . 372
  • To Commodore John P. Jones, August 12th . . 374
  • To Commodore John Paul Jones, November 25th . 374

    Reproaches for drawing on him without notice.

  • To Commodore Paul Jones, December 9th . . 375
  • 1781
  • To M. Dumas, April 7th . . . . . . 376
  • To M. Dumas, August 16th . . . . . 377
  • 1782
  • To Mr. Henry Wild, Schoolmaster at Hatherlow, near Manchester, March 31st . . . . 377
  • 1785
  • From Richard Price, November 5th . . . 378
  • List of Papers Contained in the Edition Edited by Mr. John Bigelow, Not Included in Any Previous Collection of Franklin’s Writings . . 381
  • No. I.—Letters Written by Franklin to Individuals and Public Bodies . . . . 403
  • No. II.—Letters to Public Bodies and Unknown Persons . . . . . . . 418
  • No. III.—Letters to Franklin . . . . . 420
  • No. IV.—Miscellaneous Letters . . . . 424
  • No. V.—General Index . . . . . . 425
Edition: current; Page: [1]

The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume XII


Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 October, 1788
John Ingenhousz
Ingenhousz, John


—— You have always been kind enough to interest yourself in what relates to my health. I ought therefore to acquaint you with what appears to me something curious respecting it. You may remember the cutaneous malady I formerly complained of, and for which you and Dr. Pringle favored me with prescriptions and advice. It vexed me near fourteen years, and was at the beginning of this year as bad as ever, covering almost my whole body, except my face and hands; when a fit of the gout came on, without very much pain, but a swelling in both feet, which at last appeared also in both knees, and then in my hands. As these swellings increased and extended, the other malady diminished, and at length disappeared entirely. Those swellings have some time Edition: current; Page: [4] since begun to fall, and are now almost gone; perhaps the cutaneous disease may return, or perhaps it is worn out. I may hereafter let you know what happens. I am on the whole much weaker than when it began to leave me. But possibly that may be the effect of age, for I am now near eighty-three, the age of commencing decrepitude.

I grieve at the wars Europe is engaged in, and wish they were ended; for I fear even the victors will be losers. I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—Our public affairs are drawing towards a settlement. I have served out the three years’ term of my presidentship limited by the Constitution; and being determined to engage no more in public business, I hope, if health permits, to be a better correspondent. We have no philosophical news here at present, except that a boat moved by a steam-engine rows itself against tide in our river, and it is apprehended the construction may be so simplified and improved as to become generally useful.1

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 October, 1788
M. Le Veillard
Le Veillard, M.


My Dear Friend:

I have lately received your two kind letters of June 18th and August 6th. I do Edition: current; Page: [5] not find that I ever received those you mention of the 15th September.

I have been much afflicted the last summer with a long-continued fit of the gout, which I am not quite clear of, though much better; my other malady is not augmented. I have lately made great progress in the work you so urgently demand, and have come as far as my fiftieth year. Being now free from public business, as my term in the presidentship is expired, and resolving to engage in no other public employment, I expect to have it finished in about two months, if illness or some unforeseen interruption does not prevent. I do not therefore send a part at this time, thinking it better to retain the whole till I can view it all together, and make the proper corrections.

I am much concerned to hear the broils in your country, but hope they will lead to its advantage. When this fermentation is over and the troubling parts subsided, the wine will be fine and good, and cheer the hearts of those who drink of it.

Our affairs mend daily and are getting into good order very fast. Never was any measure so thoroughly discussed as our proposed new Constitution. Many objections were made to it in the public papers, and answers to these objections. Much party heat there was, and some violent personal abuse. I kept out of the dispute, and wrote only one little paper on the occasion, which I enclose. You seem to me to be too apprehensive about our President’s being perpetual. Neither he nor we have any such intention. What danger there may be of such an event Edition: current; Page: [6] we are all aware of, and shall take care effectually to prevent it. The choice is from four years to four years; the appointments will be small; thus we may change our President if we don’t like his conduct, and he will have less inducement to struggle for a new election. As to the two chambers, I am of your opinion that one alone would be better; but, my dear friend, nothing in human affairs and schemes is perfect; and perhaps that is the case of our opinions.

It must have been a terrible tempest that devastated such an extent of country. I have sometimes thought that it might be well to establish an office of insurance for farms against the damage that may occur to them from storms, blight, insects, etc. A small sum paid by a number would repair such losses and prevent much poverty and distress.

Our adventurous merchants are hitherto successful in the East India trade. Perhaps it would be better for us if we used none of the commodities of those countries, but since we do use them, it is an advantage that we have them cheaper than when they came through Britain. As to the other merchandise she formerly supplied us with, our demand is daily diminishing. Our people are more and more sensible of the mischievous consequences of drinking rum; the leaders of several religious sects have warned their people against it, and the consumption has this last year been less by one third. This will affect her islands. And the restraints she has laid on our trade have contributed to raise a spirit of industry in families, who now manufacture more Edition: current; Page: [7] than ever for themselves; that must lessen greatly the importation.

Embrace for me bien tendrement your good dame and children. With sincere esteem and hearty attachment, I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—The wine is arrived, but it was not well secured or bottled. One of the casks had leaked a great deal, and the case we have opened had two thirds of the bottles empty or broken. Temple is in the country; he has received your letters, but does not know of this opportunity.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 October, 1788
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin


—— Having now finished my term in the presidentship, and resolving to engage no more in public affairs, I hope to be a better correspondent for the little time I have to live. I am recovering from a long-continued gout, and am diligently employed in writing the history of my life, to the doing of which the persuasions contained in your letter of January 31, 1783, have not a little contributed. I am now in the year 1756, just before I was sent to England. To shorten the work, as well as for other reasons, I omit all facts and transactions that may not have a tendency to benefit the young reader by showing him Edition: current; Page: [8] from my example, and my success in emerging from poverty, and acquiring some degree of wealth, power, and reputation, the advantages of certain modes of conduct which I observed, and of avoiding the errors which were prejudicial to me. If a writer can judge properly of his own work, I fancy on reading over what is already done that the book will be found entertaining, interesting, and useful, more so than I expected when I began it. If my present state of health continues, I hope to finish it this winter. When done, you shall have a manuscript copy of it, that I may obtain from your judgment and friendship such remarks as may contribute to its improvement.

The violence of our party debates about the new Constitution seems much abated, indeed, almost extinct, and we are getting fast into good order. I kept out of those disputes pretty well, having wrote only one little piece, which I send you enclosed.

I regret the immense quantity of misery brought upon mankind by this Turkish war; and I am afraid the King of Sweden may burn his fingers by attacking Russia. When will princes learn arithmetic enough to calculate if they want pieces of one another’s territory how much cheaper it would be to buy them than to make war for them, even though they were to give a hundred years’ purchase? But, if glory cannot be valued, and therefore the wars for it cannot be subject to arithmetical calculation so as to show their advantage or disadvantage, at least wars for trade, which have gain for their object, may be proper subjects for such computation; and a Edition: current; Page: [9] trading nation, as well as a single trader, ought to calculate the probabilities of profit and loss before engaging in any considerable adventure. This, however, nations seldom do, and we have had frequent instances of their spending more money in wars for acquiring or securing branches of commerce than a hundred years’ profit or the full enjoyment of them can compensate.

Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestley. I do not call him honest by way of distinction, for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude, or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their enemies; and they have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend’s heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, it is his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic. I am ever, my dear friend, yours sincerely,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 October, 1788
M. Le Roy
Le Roy, M.


My Dear Friend:

Your kind letter of the 6th of May, after some delay by the way, is come safe to Edition: current; Page: [10] hand, with the memoirs, and elegant prints of your projected hospital, which I shall dispose of as you direct. It may in time to come be useful here. I received, also, the volume of Academy memoirs, and thank you for your care in sending them.

I am now in possession of the repose I have so long wished for, having finished the third year of my presidentship, the term limited by our Constitution, and resolving to engage no more in public business; my employment of that repose can, however, be but short, as I am near eighty-three.

We have no philosophical news here at present, except that a large boat rowed by the force of steam is now exercised upon our river, stems the current, and seems to promise being useful when the machinery can be more simplified and the expense reduced.

I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
26 October, 1788
Don Diego Gardoqui
Gardoqui, Don Diego



Messrs. Henry Pawling and Greenberry Dawson, one of whom will have the honor of presenting this to the hand of your Excellency, are projecting a voyage from the Ohio settlement with the produce of that country, to be sold at New Orleans. I know not how far the laws existing there Edition: current; Page: [11] admit of such commerce, but if it is allowable, I would then beg leave to request that your Excellency would be so good as to give them your counsels with a line of protection. As they are here esteemed persons of honest principles, who have good characters, I am persuaded they will not forfeit them and show themselves unworthy of your Excellency’s favor by any contraband or illegal practices.

With great and sincere esteem and respect, I am, sir, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 November, 1788



I received your note of the 8th instant, and being now, as you observe, retired to a private station, I hope to enjoy the repose appertaining to it. I cannot think, therefore, of calling, as you propose, you and your accusers before me, to discuss differences which I have no authority to judge of or to determine. I can only give you my friendly advice, which is to behave peaceably and respectfully to the religious society you profess to be connected with, especially in their public assemblies; in which case I am persuaded you may quietly enjoy “that liberty of a freeholder and citizen” which you desire, without receiving from them the smallest interruption. Edition: current; Page: [12] By giving me no further trouble with your quarrels, you will oblige your well-wisher,

B. Franklin.
William T. Franklin
Franklin, William T.
17 Novre, 1788
M. Le Veillard
Le Veillard, M.


La dernière lettre que j’ai reçue, de vous, mon cher ami, est dattée le 6 Aôut. Vous ne m’accusez pas la réception de la mienne du mois de Fevrier,2 et je crains qu’elle ne soit restée à N. York avec plusieurs autres que j’ai écrites en même tems. Vous savez sans doute que les Pacquetbots sont interrompus depuis quelque tems, ce qui est cause j’imagine que je n’ai pas encore reçu la glace pour ma machine electrique que vous m’anonçates au mois de Fevrier dernier. Voulez vous bien mon ami, vous informer si elle est encore partie du Havre, et si elle y reste encore, donnez des ordres pour qu’on me l’envoye par le premier bâtiment marchand ou outre qui part pour Philadelphie ou N. York; et qu’on m’écris une lettre d’avis en même tems. Actuellement que nous sommes sur les commissions, permittez que je vous donnent encore quelques unes; mais à cette condition que si elle vous cause trop d’embarras vous ne les executerez pas. Vous savez que j’ai une partie de la petite Bibliotheque des Theatres; cette ouvrage me plait, Edition: current; Page: [13] et je voudrai l’avoir complet. J’ai les treize volumes du 1r année, 1784, et les No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, du 2de année, 1785. Il me manque en consequence le No. 8 du 2de année, et tous les Nos. qui on parru depuis le No. 10. Tachez je vous prie de mes les procurer; je dois les avoir aux prix des souscripteurs. Je ne sais si je n’ai pas souscrit pour la 2de année? Voici encore ce que je desirerai avoir. 1r. Memoire sur les moyens de construire des planchers en bois avec plus de solidité et d’economie que l’on n’a fait jusqu’ à present pour le Sieur Panseron; chez l’auteur, Rue des Maçons 1r. 4e. 2de. Histoire japonoise de Tangai et de Neardané, pr. Crebillon fils. 3me. Une pinte des plus beaux marrons de Lyons—pour planter. Tout cela peut être mise dans une petite boiette, et si elle est bien distinctement addressée, elle me parviendra sans difficulté; mais il sera toujours prudent que je rècoive une lettre d’avis par la même occasion. Mon ayeul n’a reçu que les 5 premiers volumes du Dicte. d’Agrice. de l’Abbé Rozier, il desireroit avoir la suite; ainsi que la Bibliotheque Physyco Economique, depuis l’an 1785—et ce qui à paru depuis la dernière envoye que vous ou M. Grand lui a fait des Mémoires des Chinois. Pour ce qui regarde mes commissions les 69’s que vous avez à moi seront, peutêtre assez, si non vous vous addresserez à M. Grand, ainsi que pour se que vous debourserez pour mon ayeul. Nous avons reçu la vin de Cahusac qui est fort bon; mais il faut que celle dans les caisses ait été mis en bouteille dans un tems défavorable attendu que, un tiers des bouteilles etait cassés ou vides, les bouchons etant Edition: current; Page: [14] partis. Celui en futaille à un peu perdu en quantité mais rien en comparaison de celui en bouteille. Le vin est en general bien gouté ici, mais il faut du tems pour changer le gout de nos buveurs de Madére, et de Bordeaux. Je me suis informé de plusieurs personnes au sujêt de M. Bourgoin, dont vous desirez avoir des nouvelles; mais jusqu’à présent je n’ai pu savoir s’il est arrivé en Amérique. Nous avons à Philadelphie plusieurs François, entre autres un M. de Ferriere qui connait tout le monde à Passy, et je me rapelle de l’avoir vu chez M. Filleul, mais je crois qu’il portait alors un autre nom. Il à la croix de St. Louis, et on dit qu’il à été Prévôt de Marechaux de France. C’est un homme d’environs 40 à 45 ans, d’une figure agréable, et il me parait ce qu’on appelle en France bonne enfant. Donnez moi un peu son Histoire—il parle de s’établir aux environs de Philadelphie et d’y faire venir sa femme de Paris. Il est arrivé en Amerique avec M. de St. Try et M. Brissot de Warville. Notre nouveau Gouvernement va toujours son train—plusieurs États ont élu leurs Senateurs, le peuple doivent elir leur Representatives dans peu; c’est au mois de Mars prochain qu’ils doivent s’assembler. Il n’y à qu’une voix pour le President General, l’ilustre Washington! à l’égard du Vice President les avis son partagés entre les General Knox, Messieurs Hancock, Adams, etc. Mon ayeul ayant servi ses trois ans, comme President de cet État, ou à elu à sa place le General Mifflin. Mon ayeul s’appelle actuelment un free man, et je crois qu’il serait difficile de l’engager à changer cet etat. Il parait on ne peut pas plus Edition: current; Page: [15] content de jouir de la liberté et du repos. Il est maintenant occupé à écrire la suite de sa vie que vous avez desirez avec tant d’empressement. Sa santé se retablit tous les jours. Adieu, mon ami. Rapellez moi au souvenir de tous nos amis communs, et dites mille choses tendre pour moi à toute votre famille. J’écris à M. votre fils.

W. T. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 November, 1788
Francis Childs
Childs, Francis



When you were here in April last you promised me the payment of one hundred dollars in June following, which has not been sent to me, and therefore I have now drawn upon you for the same, and having present occasion for money, I depend on your honoring my draft. I am, sir, your humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 November, 1788
Elizabeth Partridge
Partridge, Elizabeth


My Dear Child:

I received your kind letter of the 12th inst. enclosing one for Mr. Philip Vanhorn, physician in Philadelphia, which you desire me to deliver, and to solicit the forgiveness of his daughter. Edition: current; Page: [16] I immediately made enquiry for him, as to be instrumental in so charitable a work, and in concurrence with you, would have given me great pleasure, but I am assured by our oldest inhabitants, who have had most acquaintance and best opportunities of knowing their fellow-citizens, particularly some of our physicians, that no physician or other person of that name has ever been a resident here; so that there must have been some mistake in the information that has been given you, if, indeed, the whole story is not an imposition.

You kindly enquire after my health. I have not, of late, much reason to boast of it. People that will live a long life and drink to the bottom of the cup must expect to meet with some of the dregs. However, when I consider how many more terrible maladies the human body is liable to, I think myself well off that I have only three incurable ones: the gout, the stone, and old age; and, those notwithstanding, I enjoy many comfortable intervals, in which I forget all my ills, and amuse myself in reading or writing, or in conversation with friends, joking, laughing, and telling merry stories, as when you first knew me, a young man about fifty.

My children and grandchildren, the Baches, are all well, and pleased with your remembrance of them. They are my family, living in my house. And we have lately the addition of a little good-natured girl, whom I begin to love as well as the rest.

You tell me our poor friend Ben Kent is gone; I hope to the regions of the blessed, or at [mutilated] Edition: current; Page: [17] to some place where souls are prepared for those [mutilated] gions. I found my hope on this, that though not so orthodox as you and I, he was an honest man, and had his virtues. If he had any hypocrisy it was of that inverted kind, with which a man is not so bad [mutilated] seems to be. And with regard to future bliss I cannot help imagining, that multitudes of the zealously orthodox of different sects, who at the last day may flock together, in hopes of seeing [mutilated] damned, will be disappointed, and obliged to rest content with their own salvation. You have no occasion to apologise for your former letter. It was, as all yours are, very well written. That which it enclosed for your cousin came too late, he being sailed.

By one of the accidents which war occasions, all my books containing copies of my letters were lost. There were eight volumes of them, and I have been able to recover only two. Those are of later date than the transaction you mention, and therefore can contain nothing relating to it. If the letter you want a copy of was one in which I aimed at consoling my brother’s friends, by a comparison drawn from a party of pleasure intended into the country, where we were all to meet, though the chair of one being soonest ready he set out before the rest; I say if this was the letter, I fancy you may possibly find it in Boston, as I remember Dr. Biles once wrote me that many copies had been taken of it. I, too, should have been glad to have seen that again, among others I had written to him and you. But you inform me they [mutilated] by the mice. Poor little Edition: current; Page: [18] innocent creatures, I am sorry they had no better food. But since they like my letters, here is another treat for them.

Adieu, ma chere enfant, and believe me [mutilated] your affectionate uncle,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
26 November, 1788
Jane Mecom
Mecom, Jane


My Dear Sister:

I received your kind letter of the 11th instant. The two former ones you mention, I had answered, though it seems the answer had not reached you. If it has finally miscarried, I will look for the letters, and answer them again.

I am sorry you should suffer so much uneasiness with tears and apprehensions about my health. There are in life real evils enough, and it is folly to afflict ourselves with imaginary ones; and it is time enough when the real ones arrive. I see by the papers that to-morrow is your thanksgiving day. The flour will arrive too late for your plum-puddings, for I find it went from hence but a few days since. I hope, however, it will be with you before the winter shuts up your harbor.

I never see any Boston newspapers. You mention there being often something in them to do me honor. I am obliged to them. On the other hand, some of our papers here are endeavoring to disgrace me. I take no notice. My friends defend me. I have long Edition: current; Page: [19] been accustomed to receive more blame, as well as more praise, than I have deserved. It is the lot of every public man, and I leave one account to balance the other.

As you observe, there was no swearing in the story of the poker, when I told it. The late new dresser of it was, probably, the same, or perhaps akin to him, who, in relating a dispute that happened between Queen Anne and the Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning a vacant mitre, which the Queen was for bestowing on a person the Archbishop thought unworthy, made both the Queen and the Archbishop swear three or four thumping oaths in every sentence of the discussion, and the Archbishop at last gained his point. One present at this tale, being surprised, said: “But did the Queen and the Archbishop swear so at one another?” “Oh no, no,” says the relator; “that is only my way of telling the story.”

This family is all well at present, and join in love to you and yours, with your affectionate brother,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
29 November, 1788
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles


Dear Old Friend:

Enclosed I send a letter to the President of Congress for the time being, which, if you find nothing improper in it, or that in regard to me you could wish changed or amended, I would Edition: current; Page: [20] request you to present. I rely much on your friendly counsel, as you must be better acquainted with persons and circumstances than I am; and I suppose there will be time enough before the new Congress is formed to make any alterations you may advise, though, if presented at all, it should be to the old one.

In the copy of my letter to Mr. Barclay you may observe that mention is made of some “considerable articles which I have not charged in my accounts with Congress, but on which I should expect from their equity some consideration.” That you may have some information what those articles are, I enclose also a Sketch of My Services to the United States, wherein you will find mention of the extra services I performed, that do not appertain to the office of plenipotentiary, viz.: as judge of admiralty, as consul before the arrival of Mr. Barclay, as banker in examining and accepting the multitude of bills of exchange, and as secretary for several years, none being sent to me, though other ministers were allowed such assistance.

I must own, I did hope that, as it is customary in Europe, to make some liberal provision for ministers when they return home from foreign service, the Congress would at least have been kind enough to have shown their approbation of my conduct by a grant of a small tract of land in their western country, which might have been of use and some honor to my posterity. And I cannot but still think they will do something of the kind for me, whenever they shall be pleased to take my services into consideration, as I Edition: current; Page: [21] see by their minutes that they have allowed Mr. Lee handsomely for his services in England, before his appointment to France, in which services I and Mr. Bollan coöperated with him, and have had no such allowance; and, since his return, he has been very properly rewarded with a good place, as well as my friend Mr. Jay; though these are trifling compensations in comparison with what was granted by the king to M. Gérard on his return from America.

But how different is what has happened to me. On my return from England, in 1775, the Congress bestowed on me the office of postmaster-general, for which I was very thankful. It was indeed an office I had some kind of right to, as having previously greatly enlarged the revenue of the post by the regulations I had contrived and established, while I possessed it under the crown. When I was sent to France, I left it in the hands of my son-in-law, who was to act as my deputy. But soon after my departure it was taken from me and given to Mr. Hazard. When the English ministry formerly thought fit to deprive me of the office, they left me, however, the privilege of receiving and sending my letters free of postage, which is the usage when a postmaster is not displaced for misconduct in the office; but, in America, I have ever since had the postage demanded of me, which, since my return from France, has amounted to above fifty pounds, much of it occasioned by my having acted as minister there.

When I took my grandson, William Temple Franklin, with me to France, I proposed, after giving him Edition: current; Page: [22] the French language, to educate him in the study and practice of the law. But, by the repeated expectations given me of a secretary, and constant disappointments, I was induced, and indeed obliged, to retain him with me, to assist in the secretary’s office, which disappointments continued till my return, by which time, so many years of the opportunity of his studying the law were lost, and his habits of life become so different, that it appeared no longer advisable; and I then, considering him as brought up in the diplomatic line, and well qualified by his knowledge in that branch for the employ of a secretary at least (in which opinion I was not alone, for three of my colleagues, without the smallest solicitation from me, chose him secretary of the negotiation for treaties, which they had been empowered to do), took the liberty of recommending him to the Congress for their protection. This was the only favor I ever asked of them; and the only answer I received was a resolution superseding him, and appointing Colonel Humphreys in his place, a gentleman who, though he might have indeed a good deal of military merit, certainly had none in the diplomatic line, and had neither the French language, nor the experience, nor the address proper to qualify him for such an employment.

This is all to yourself only as a private friend; for I have not, nor ever shall, make any public complaint; and even if I could have foreseen such unkind treatment from Congress, their refusing me thanks would not in the least have abated my zeal for the cause and ardor in support of it. I know Edition: current; Page: [23] something of the nature of such changeable assemblies, and how little successors know of the services that have been rendered to the corps before their admission, or feel themselves obliged by such services; and what effect in obliterating a sense of them during the absence of the servant in a distant country, the artful and reiterated malevolent insinuations of one or two envious and malicious persons may have on the minds of members, even of the most equitable, candid, and honorable dispositions; and therefore I will pass these reflections into oblivion.

My good friend, excuse, if you can, the trouble of this letter; and if the reproach thrown on republics, that they are apt to be ungrateful, should ever unfortunately be verified with respect to your services, remember that you have a right to unbosom yourself in communicating your griefs to your ancient friend and most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.

Sketch of the Services of B. Franklin to the United States of America

In England he combated the Stamp Act, and his writings in the papers against it, with his examination in Parliament, were thought to have contributed much to its repeal.

He opposed the Duty Act; and though he could not prevent its passing, he obtained of Mr. Townshend an omission of several articles, particularly salt.

In the subsequent difference he wrote and published Edition: current; Page: [24] many papers, refuting the claim of Parliament to tax the colonies.

He opposed all oppressive acts.

He had two secret negotiations with the ministers for their repeal, of which he has written a narrative. In this he offered payment for the destroyed tea, at his own risk, in case they were repealed.

He was joined with Messrs. Bollan and Lee in all the applications to government for that purpose. Printed several pamphlets at his own considerable expense against the then measures of government, whereby he rendered himself obnoxious, was disgraced before the privy council, deprived of a place in the post-office of £300 sterling a year, and obliged to resign his agencies, viz.:

Of Pennsylvania £500
Of Massachusetts 400
Of New Jersey 100
Of Georgia 200

In the whole £1500 sterling per annum.

Orders were sent to the king’s governors not to sign any warrants on the treasury for orders of his salaries; and though he was not actually dismissed by the colonies that employed him, yet, thinking the known malice of the court against him rendered him less likely than others to manage their affairs to their advantage, he judged it to be his duty to withdraw from their service, and leave it open for less exceptionable persons, which saved them the necessity of removing him.

Edition: current; Page: [25]

Returning to America, he encouraged the Revolution. Was appointed chairman of the Committee of Safety, where he projected the chevaux de frise for securing Philadelphia, then the residence of Congress.

Was sent by Congress to head-quarters near Boston with Messrs. Harrison and Lynch, in 1775, to settle some affairs with the northern governments and General Washington.

In the spring of 1776 was sent to Canada with Messrs. Chase and Carroll, passing the Lakes while they were not yet free from ice. In Canada, was, with his colleagues, instrumental in redressing sundry grievances, and thereby reconciling the people more to our cause. He there advanced to General Arnold and other servants of Congress, then in extreme necessity, £353 in gold, out of his own pocket, on the credit of Congress, which was of great service at that juncture, in procuring provisions for our army.

Being at the time he was ordered on this service upwards of seventy years of age, he suffered in his health by the hardships of this journey, lodging in the woods, etc., in so inclement a season; but being recovered, the Congress in the same year ordered him to France. Before his departure he put all the money he could raise, between three and four thousand pounds, into their hands; which, demonstrating his confidence, encouraged others to lend their money in support of the cause.

He made no bargain for appointments, but was promised by a vote the net salary of £5000 sterling Edition: current; Page: [26] per annum, his expenses paid, and to be assisted by a secretary, who was to have £1,000 per annum, to include all contingencies.

When the Pennsylvania Assembly sent him to England in 1764, on the same salary, they allowed him one year’s advance for his passage, and in consideration of the prejudice to his private affairs that must be occasioned by his sudden departure and absence. He has had no such allowance from Congress, was badly accommodated in a miserable vessel, improper for those northern seas (and which actually foundered in her return), was badly fed, so that on his arrival he had scarce strength to stand.

His services to the States as commissioner, and afterwards as minister plenipotentiary, are known to Congress, as may appear in his correspondence. His extra services may not be so well known, and therefore may be here mentioned. No secretary ever arriving, the business was in part before, and entirely when the other commissioners left him, executed by himself, with the help of his grandson, who at first was only allowed clothes, board, and lodging, and afterwards a salary, never exceeding £300 a year (except while he served as secretary to the commissioners for peace), by which difference in salary, continued many years, the Congress saved, if they accept it, £700 sterling a year.

He served as consul entirely several years, till the arrival of Mr. Barclay, and even after, as that gentleman was obliged to be much and long absent in Holland, Flanders, and England, during which Edition: current; Page: [27] absence, what business of the kind occurred still came to Mr. Franklin.

He served, though without any special commission for the purpose, as a judge of admiralty; for, the Congress having sent him a quantity of blank commissions for privateers, he granted them to cruisers fitted out in the ports of France, some of them manned by old smugglers, who knew every creek on the coast of England, and running all round the island distressed the British coasting trade exceedingly, and raised their general insurance. One of those privateers alone, the Black Prince, took in the course of a year seventy-five sail! All the papers taken in each prize brought in, were in virtue of an order of council sent up to Mr. Franklin, who was to examine them, judge of the legality of the capture, and write to the admiralty of the port that he found the prize good, and that the sale might be permitted. These papers, which are very voluminous, he has to produce.

He served also as merchant, to make purchases and direct the shipping of stores to a very great value, for which he has charged no commission.

But the part of his service which was the most fatiguing and confining, was that of receiving and accepting, after a due and necessary examination, the bills of exchange drawn by Congress for interest money, to the amount of two millions and a half of livres annually; multitudes of the bills very small, each of which, the smallest, gave as much trouble in examining, as the largest. And this careful examination was found absolutely necessary, from the Edition: current; Page: [28] constant frauds attempted by presenting seconds and thirds for payment after the firsts have been discharged. As these bills were arriving, more or less, by every ship and every post, they required constant attendance. Mr. Franklin could make no journey for exercise, as had been annually his custom, and the confinement brought on a malady that is likely to afflict him while he lives.

In short, though he has always been an active man, he never went through so much business during eight years, in any part of his life, as during those of his residence in France; which, however, he did not decline till he saw peace happily made, and found himself in the eightieth year of his age; when, if ever, a man has some right to expect repose.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
29 November, 1788



When I had the honor of being the Minister of the United States at the Court of France, Mr. Barclay, arriving there, brought me the following resolution of Congress:

“Resolved, that a commissioner be appointed by Congress, with full power and authority to liquidate, and finally to settle, the accounts of all the servants of the United States, who have been intrusted with the expenditure of public money in Europe, and to commence and prosecute such suits, causes, and Edition: current; Page: [29] actions as may be necessary for the purpose, or for the recovery of any property of the said United States in the hands of any person, or persons, whatsoever.

That the said commissioner be authorized to appoint one or more clerks, with such allowance as he may think reasonable.

That the said commissioner and clerks, respectively, take an oath before some person duly authorized to administer an oath, faithfully to execute the trust reposed in them respectively.

Congress proceeded to the election of a commissioner, and, ballots being taken, Mr. Thomas Barclay was elected.”

In pursuance of this resolution, and as soon as Mr. Barclay was at leisure from more pressing business, I rendered to him all my accounts, which he examined, and stated methodically. By this statement he found a balance due to me on the 4th of May, 1785, of 7,533 livres, 19 sols, 3 derniers, which I accordingly received of the Congress banker; the difference between my statement and his being only seven sols, which by mistake I had overcharged; about three pence half-penny sterling.

At my request, however, the accounts were left open for the consideration of Congress, and not finally settled, there being some articles on which I desired their judgment, and having some equitable demands, as I thought them, for extra services, which he had not conceived himself empowered to allow, and therefore I did not put them in my account. He transmitted the accounts to Congress, and had advice of their being received. On my Edition: current; Page: [30] arrival at Philadelphia, one of the first things I did was to despatch my grandson, William T. Franklin, to New York, to obtain a final settlement of those accounts; he, having long acted as my secretary, and being well acquainted with the transactions, was able to give an explanation of the articles that might seem to require explaining, if any such there were. He returned without effecting the settlement, being told that it could not be made till the arrival of some documents expected from France. What those documents were I have not been informed, nor can I readily conceive, as all the vouchers existing there had been examined by Mr. Barclay. And I, having been immediately after my arrival engaged in the public business of this State, waited in expectation of hearing from Congress, in case any part of my accounts had been objected to.

It is now more than three years that those accounts have been before that honorable body, and, to this day, no notice of any such objection has been communicated to me. But reports have, for some time past, been circulated here, and propagated in the newspapers, that I am greatly indebted to the United States for large sums that had been put into my hands, and that I avoid a settlement. This, together with the little time one of my age may expect to live, makes it necessary for me to request earnestly, which I hereby do, that the Congress would be pleased, without further delay, to examine those accounts, and if they find therein any article or articles which they do not understand or approve, that they would cause me to be acquainted with the Edition: current; Page: [31] same, that I may have an opportunity of offering such explanations or reasons in support of them as may be in my power, and then that the accounts may be finally closed.

I hope the Congress will soon be able to attend to this business for the satisfaction of the public, as well as in condescension to my request. In the meantime, if there be no impropriety in it, I would desire that this letter, together with another1 relating to the same subject, the copy of which is hereto annexed, may be put upon their minutes. With every sentiment of respect and duty to Congress, I am, sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.2
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 December, 1788
William Vaughan
Vaughan, William


Dear Sir:

I received your kind letter of October 5th. I am glad the little papers I sent you were not Edition: current; Page: [32] unacceptable. Having done with public business, I am now employing myself in a work your good brother Benjamin once strongly recommended to me, which is writing the history of my own life. This will contain a number of precepts of the kind you desire, and all exemplified by the effects of their practice in my own affairs. Please to inform Benjamin of this, and that I have got as far as my fiftieth year.

I thank you for the trouble you took in the enquiry of Mr. John Wright. I have written to him some time since that the types are come to hand, etc.

A friend of mine designing a present to her son, a young student, of the best English encyclopædia, has desired me to procure it for her. Since I left England several different works under that title have appeared, and I know not their characters or merits. I think I have seen mentioned in the advertisements Edition: current; Page: [33] one or two from Scotland. Will you be so good as to inform yourself, if you do not know already, which is the best and latest, and send it to me by one of the first spring ships. Enclosed is an order on a banking-house for payment. On looking at it, I see it was intended by the lady that your brother should be troubled with this order. But ’t is the same thing, you can have his opinion.

Our public affairs are getting fast into order, and we hope that in a year or two more they may be perfectly settled. The bad habits introduced by the war are also wearing out, and sober industry and frugality are taking place of idleness and dissipation. It is pleasant to see the world growing better and happier, though one [torn] to quit it. Next month, if I live to the middle of it, will finish my eighty-third year. I have a good deal recovered from my last summer’s illness, and am at present, thanks to God, pretty hearty, as well as all my family, who join in rejoicing that your good mother and sisters, those amiable girls, have also recovered their usual health. God bless and preserve you all, prays your affectionate friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 December, 1788
Abbé Morellet
Morellet, Abbé


Dear Friend:

The suspension of the pacquet boats has deranged our correspondence. It is long, Edition: current; Page: [34] very long since I have been favored with a line from Auteuil, and M. de Chaumont informed me lately that a number of letters which I had sent to New York to go by the pacquet to France had been lying there many months after, no pacquet arriving by which they might be sent. Pray let me know whether you ever received my remarks on the English reasons for refusing to deliver up the posts on our frontiers? sent now near a year since, in return for your excellent Guichets and Nouvelles Cométalogie, with which I have most agreeably, entertained many of my friends. I am, however, not without resource in this dearth of news from that Academy, for I often read over and over again, and always with fresh pleasure, your and Abbé de la Roche’s pleasing and instructive letter of July, 1787; and the friendly, affectionate griffonage, as she is pleased to call it, of that good dame,1 whom we all love, and whose memory I shall love and honor as long as I have any existence. And I sometimes dream of being in France, and visiting my friends there, when those of Auteuil are never forgotten.

I send you herewith as a small curiosity some songs and music of American composition, the first production of the kind that has appeared here. I fancy some of the music may suit your taste, as it is simple and pathetic. The poetry of one of the songs pleases me particularly. It is the Vth. I wish you or Mr. Cabenis would translate it, so that it may be sung to the same notes.

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The gentleman who will have the honor of delivering you this line, is Mr. Gouverneur Morris, formerly a member of Congress, and one of the convention that composed the Federal Constitution. He is much esteemed here by those that know him, and being a friend of mine, I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities, and to M. Marmontels, to whom please to present my respects.

I hope the late troubles in France are nearly over. ’T is a country that I dearly love, and in whose prosperity I feel myself deeply interested.

Having now finished my three years’ service as President, and not likely to engage in any future public business, I begin to feel myself a freeman, and to enjoy the little leisure that the remnant of life may afford me. Some of this leisure I am, however, employing in writing my own history, which calling past transactions to remembrance makes it seem a little like living one’s life over again.

I am ever, my dear friend, with great and sincere esteem, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Catherine Louisa Shipley
Shipley, Catherine Louisa
24 December, 1788
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


Bolton Street,
My Dear Friend:

It is a great while since I wrote to you, and still longer since I heard from you; but I have now a particular pleasure in writing to one who had long known and loved the dear parent Edition: current; Page: [36] I have lost.1 You will probably, before you receive this, have heard of my father’s death; his illness was short and terminated in apoplexy. He was seldom in his perfect senses for the last four days, but such constant calmness and composure could only have attended the deathbed of a truly good man. How unlike the ideas I had formed to myself of death, which till now I had only seen at a distance, and heard of with terror. The nearer his last moment approached, the more his ideas seemed elevated; and, but for those whom living he had loved with tenderness, and dying he still felt interested for, he showed no regret at leaving this world. I believe his many virtues have called down a blessing on his family, for we have all been supported under this severe affliction beyond what I could have imagined; and though sorrow will for a time get the better of every other sensation, I feel now that the strongest impression left by his death is the desire of imitating his virtues in an humbler sphere of life.

My dear mother’s health, I hope, will not have suffered materially; and she has every consolation to be derived from the reflection that for forty-five years it was the study of her life to make the best of husbands happy. He in return has shown that his attention to her ease and comfort did not end with his life. He was happily preserved to us so long as to be able to leave all his family in good circumstances. I fancy my mother, Bessy, and I shall live at Twyford, but at present no place is settled.

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May I flatter myself that you still feel some affection for the family of your good old friend, and let me have the happiness of hearing it from yourself? I shall request Dr. Price to send this letter. My mother, brother, and sisters beg to be all most kindly remembered. Believe me, dear sir, your faithful and obliged,

Catherine Louisa Shipley.
Richard Price
Price, Richard
December, 1788
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


My Dear Friend:

I have been desired by Miss Kitty Shipley to convey to you the enclosed letter, and I cannot at present find any way of conveying it except by the packet. It will inform you of the death of one of your warmest friends and the best of bishops. Ever since the American war I have been honored with much of his attention and friendship; and I cannot but mourn the loss which his family, his friends, and the world have sustained. His family are in a state of deep concern, but at the same time inquisitive about you and anxious to receive some information about you. You can be nowhere more beloved or respected.

I have heard with pain that you have been suffering under the gout and stone, two sad maladies; but alas! it is impossible that our bodily frame, as it wears out and approaches to its dissolution, should Edition: current; Page: [38] not subject us to sufferings. Happy are those who, in such circumstances, can look back on a life distinguished by such services as yours have been. There is, I trust, beyond the grave a world where we shall all meet and rise to greater happiness than any we have enjoyed here.

Will you be so good as to deliver my compliments to Dr. Rush? You have, I know, too much to do, and too many letters to answer, and therefore I can only wish that Dr. Rush would give me an account of you. He has frequently favored me with letters, and they generally gratify me highly by informing me of the state of affairs in the United States. His last letter was dated in May, and I answered it in June by Mr. Bishop, a gentleman from Connecticut, who was returning from his travels through France and Germany.

I rejoice to find that the Federal Constitution has been adopted by the States. This confirms me in the hope that a state of things is commencing there more favorable to human rights than any that has yet been known in this world. One of the circumstances in which I am most disposed to rejoice is the separation which has taken place there of religion from civil policy, and the free scope given to discussion and improvement, by abolishing the interposition of civil power in matters of speculation, and extending equal protection to all religious sects, as far as they avoid injuring one another.

I received some time ago a letter from Dr. White. Will you, should he happen to come in your way, deliver to him my respectful and grateful acknowledgments? Edition: current; Page: [39] I have thought it needless to trouble him with an answer to his letter. He probably soon found that it was not possible to assist Mr. Workman, the person he recommended, in the manner he proposed.

Our king’s insanity has brought us in this country into a state that threatens us with much confusion. The Prince of Wales is likely to bring with him into power the coalition party. The king may recover, and this party may be soon routed again. A relapse may produce another rout, or the prince, after being invested with power, may be too tenacious of it; and thus the worst evils may arise. The coalition party, however, will hardly do us more mischief than the late ministry seems to me to have done, by connecting us in such a manner with Prussia, Hesse, and Holland, as to subject us to the danger of being involved soon in another continental war. But I have gone beyond the bounds I intended in this letter. Accept my ardent wishes that the remainder of your life may be as happy as possible. In hopes of not being forgotten by you, I am ever, most affectionately, yours,

Richard Price.


Should it be agreed, and become a part of the law of nations, that the cultivators of the earth are not to be molested or interrupted in their peaceable and useful Edition: current; Page: [40] employment, the inhabitants of the sugar islands would come under the protection of such a regulation, which would be a great advantage to the nations who at present hold those islands; since the cost of sugar to the consumer in those nations consists, not only in the price he pays for it by the pound, but in the accummulated charge of all the taxes he pays in every war to fit out fleets and maintain troops for the defence of the islands that raise the sugar, and the ships that bring it home.

But the expenses of treasure is not all. A celebrated philosophical writer remarks, that when he considered the wars made in Africa for prisoners to raise sugar in America, the number slain in those wars, the numbers that, being crowded in ships, perish in the transportation, and the numbers that die under the severities of slavery, he could scarce look on a morsel of sugar without conceiving it spotted with human blood. If he had considered also the blood of one another which the white natives shed in fighting for those islands, he would have imagined his sugar not as spotted only, but as thoroughly dyed red.

On these accounts I am persuaded that the subjects of the Emperor of Germany, and the Empress of Russia, who have no sugar islands, consume sugar cheaper at Vienna and Moscow, with all the charge of transporting it, after its arrival in Europe, than the citizens of London and Paris. And I sincerely believe that, if France and England were to decide, by throwing dice, which should have the whole of the sugar islands, the loser in the throw would be the Edition: current; Page: [41] gainer. The future expense of defending them would be saved; the sugars would be bought cheaper by all Europe, if the inhabitants might make it without interruption; and, who ever imported the sugar, the same revenue might be raised by duties at the custom-house of the nation that consumed it. And, on the whole, I conceive it would be better for the nations now possessing sugar colonies, to give up their claim to them, let them govern themselves, and put them under the protection of all the Powers of Europe as neutral countries open to the commerce of all, the profit of the present monopolies being by no means equivalent to the expense of maintaining them.


The independence and prosperity of the United States of America will raise the price of wages in Europe, an advantage of which I believe no one has yet spoken.

The low rate of wages is one of the greatest defects Edition: current; Page: [42] in the political associations of Europe, or rather of the old world.

If the term wages be taken in its widest signification, it will be found that almost all the citizens of a large State receive and pay wages. I shall confine my remarks, however, to one description of wages, the only one with which government should intermeddle, or which requires its care. I mean the wages of the lowest class, those men without property, without capital, who live solely by the labor of their hands. This is always the most numerous class in a state; and consequently, that cannot be pronounced happy in which, from the lowness and insufficiency of wages, the laboring class procure so scanty a subsistence that, barely able to provide for their own necessities, they have not the means of marrying and rearing a family, and are reduced to beggary whenever employment fails them, or age and sickness oblige them to give up work.

Further, the wages under consideration ought not to be estimated by their amount in money, but by the quantity of provisions, clothing, and other commodities which the laborer can procure for the money which he receives.

Unhappily, in all the political states of the old world, a numerous class of citizens have nothing to live upon but their wages, and these are inadequate to their support. This is the real cause of the misery of so many day laborers who work in the fields, or in manufactories in towns; of pauperism, an evil which is spreading every day, more and more, because governments attempt to check it by feeble Edition: current; Page: [43] remedies only; of depravity of morals; and of almost every crime. The policy of tyranny and of commerce has overlooked and disguised these truths. The horrible maxim that the people must be poor, in order that they may remain in subjection, is still held by many persons of hard hearts and perverted understanding, with whom it were useless to contend. Others, again, think that the people should be poor, from a regard of the supposed interests of commerce. They believe that to increase the rate of wages would raise the price of the productions of the soil, and especially of industry, which are sold to foreign nations, and thus that exportation and the profits arising from it would be diminished. But this motive is at once cruel and ill founded.

It is cruel; for, whatever may be the advantages of foreign commerce, if in order to possess them, half the nation must languish in misery, we cannot without crime endeavor to obtain them, and it becomes the duty of a government to relinquish them. To desire to keep down the rate of wages, with the view of favoring the exportation of merchandise, is to seek to render the citizens of a state miserable, in order that foreigners may purchase its productions at a cheaper rate; it is, at the most, attempting to enrich a few merchants by impoverishing the body of the nation; it is taking the part of the stronger in that contest, already so unequal, between the man who can pay wages, and him who is under the necessity of receiving them; it is, in one word, to forget that the object of every political society ought to be the happiness of the largest number.

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This motive is, moreover, ill founded; for, in order to secure to a nation a profitable export for the products of its agriculture and manufactures, it is not necessary that the rate of wages should be reduced so extremely low as we find it in almost all the countries of Europe. It is not the wages of the workman, but the price of the merchandise, that should be lowered, in order that this merchandise may be sold to foreign nations. But men have always neglected to make this distinction. The wages of the laborer are the price of his day’s work. The price of merchandise is the sum it costs to gather the produce of the soil, or prepare any product of industry. The price of this production may be very moderate, while the laborer may receive good wages—that is, the means of procuring a comfortable subsistence. The labor necessary to gather or prepare the article to be sold may be cheap, and the wages of the workman good. Although the workmen of Manchester and Norwich, and those of Amiens and Abbeville, are employed in the same kind of labor, the former receive considerably higher wages than the latter; and yet the woollen fabrics of Manchester and Norwich, of the same quality, are not so dear as those of Amiens and Abbeville.

It would occupy too much time fully to develop this principle. I will only observe here, that it results in a great measure from the fact that the price of labor in the arts, and even in agriculture, is wonderfully diminished by the perfection of the machinery employed in them, by the intelligence and activity of the workmen, and by the judicious division of Edition: current; Page: [45] labor. Now these methods of reducing the price of manufactured articles have nothing to do with the low wages of the workman. In a large manufactory, where animals are employed instead of men, and machinery instead of animal power, and where that judicious division of labor is made which doubles, nay, increases tenfold, both power and time, the article can be manufactured and sold at a much lower rate than in those establishments which do not enjoy the same advantages; and yet the workmen in the former may receive twice as much as in the latter.

It is, undoubtedly, an advantage for a manufactory to obtain workmen at a moderate price; and excessively high wages are an obstacle to the foundation of large manufacturing establishments. This high price of wages, as I shall presently explain, is one reason for the opinion which is entertained, that it will be many years before the manufactures of the United States of America can rival those of Europe. But we must not conclude from this, that manufactures cannot prosper, unless the wages of the workmen are reduced as low as we find them in Europe. And, moreover, the insufficiency of wages occasions the decline of a manufactory, as its prosperity is promoted by a high rate of wages.

High wages attract the most skilful and most industrious workmen. Thus the article is better made; it sells better; and, in this way, the employer makes a greater profit than he could do by diminishing the pay of the workmen. A good workman spoils fewer tools, wastes less material, and works faster than one Edition: current; Page: [46] of inferior skill; and thus the profits of the manufacturer are increased still more.

The perfection of machinery in all the arts is owing, in a great degree, to the workmen. There is no important manufacture in which they have not invented some useful process, which saves time and materials, or improves the workmanship. If common articles of manufacture, the only ones worthy to interest the statesman, if woollen, cotton, and even silk stuffs, articles made of iron, steel, copper, skins, leather, and various other things, are generally of better quality, at the same price, in England than in other countries, it is because workmen are there better paid.

The low rate of wages, then, is not the real cause of the advantages of commerce between one nation and another; but it is one of the greatest evils of political communities.

Let us now inquire what is the situation of the United States in this respect. The condition of the day laborer, in these States, is infinitely better than in the wealthiest countries in the old world, and particularly England, where, however, wages are higher than in any other part of Europe. In the State of New York, the lowest class of workmen and those employed in the most ordinary kinds of labor usually gain “three shillings and sixpence currency, equal to two shillings sterling, a day; ship-carpenters, ten shillings and sixpence currency, with a pint of rum, equal in all to five shillings and sixpence sterling; house-carpenters and bricklayers, eight shillings currency, equal to four shillings and sixpence sterling; Edition: current; Page: [47] journeymen tailors, five shillings currency, equal to about two shillings and ten pence sterling.”

These prices, much higher than those of London, are quite as high in other parts of the United States as in New York. I have taken them from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.1

An intelligent observer, who travelled through a part of the United States in 1780, gives us a still more favorable idea of the price that is paid there for work.

“At Farmington,” says he, “I saw them weaving a kind of camblet, and also a blue and white striped woollen cloth, for women’s clothing. These fabrics are all sold at three shillings and sixpence per ell,2 in the currency of the country, equal to about forty-five sous tournois. The sons and the grandsons of the master of the house were working at the business. One workman can easily make five ells of this cloth a day, and, as the original material costs but a shilling, he can earn ten or twelve shillings by his day’s labor.”

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But this fact is so well known that it is superfluous to attempt to prove it by further examples.

The causes of the high price of labor in our American States must then continue to operate more and more powerfully, since agriculture and population advance there with such rapidity that labor of every description is increased in proportion.

Nor is this all. The high rate of wages paid them in money proves that they are even better than one would suppose them at first view; and in order to estimate them correctly, an important circumstance should be known. In every part of North America the necessities of life are cheaper than in England. Scarcity is unknown there. In the least productive seasons, the harvest is always sufficient for the supply of the inhabitants, and they are only obliged to diminish the exportation of their produce. Now, the price of labor in money being higher there than in England, and provisions cheaper, the actual wages, that is the amount of necessary articles which the day laborer can buy, is so much the greater.

It remains for me to show how the high rate of wages in America will increase their rate in Europe.

Two distinct causes will unite in producing this effect. The first is the greater quantity of labor that Europe will have to perform in consequence of the existence of another great nation in the commercial world, and of its continual increase; and the second, the emigration of European workmen, or the mere possibility of their emigrating, in order to go to America, where labor is better paid.

It is certain that the amount of labor in the various Edition: current; Page: [49] branches of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation must be augmented in Europe by the addition of several millions of men to the commercial world. Now the amount of manual labor being increased, labor will be somewhat better paid, and the rate of daily wages received by the workmen will be raised by this concurrence of circumstances. For example, if the additional supply of one hundred thousand pieces of cloth, twenty thousand casks of wine, and ten thousand casks of brandy, is to be furnished to the Americans, not only will the persons necessarily employed in the production or manufacture of these commodities receive higher wages, but the price of all other kinds of labor will be augmented.

The rate of wages in Europe will be raised by yet another circumstance with which it is important to be acquainted. I have already said that the value of wages ought not to be estimated solely by the amount of money, nor even by the quantity of subsistence which the workman receives per day, but also by the number of days in which he is employed; for it is by such a calculation alone that we can find out what he has for each day. Is it not evident that he who should be paid at the rate of forty pence a day, and should fail of obtaining work half the year, would really have but twenty pence to subsist upon, and that he would be less advantageously situated than the man who, receiving but thirty pence, could yet be supplied with work every day? Thus the Americans, occasioning in Europe an increased demand and necessity for labor, would also necessarily Edition: current; Page: [50] cause there an augmentation of wages, even supposing the price of the day’s work to remain at the same rate.

Perhaps it will be objected to what I have said, that this new nation will contain within itself as many laboring people as it can employ, and that thus, adding nothing to the quantity of work to be performed in Europe, it will be no advantage to the men who perform this work. But I reply that it is impossible but that the United States of America, in their present condition, and much more when their population and wealth shall be doubled, nay quadrupled, should employ the labor of Europeans one way or another. It is impossible, because in this respect the Americans are not differently situated from other nations, who all have need of each other. The fertility of the American soil, the abundance and variety of its productions, the activity and industry of its inhabitants, and the unrestricted commerce, which will sooner or later be established in Europe in consequence of the American independence, secure the relations of America with other countries, because she will furnish to other nations such of her productions as they may require; and as each country possesses some productions peculiar to itself, the demand and advantage will be reciprocal.

The second cause, which I have said must cooperate in producing an augmentation of wages in Europe, is emigration, or the mere possibility of emigrating to America, where labor is better paid. It is easy to conceive that when this difference is generally known, it will draw to the United States Edition: current; Page: [51] many men, who, having no means of subsistence but their labor, will flock to the place where this labor is best recompensed. Since the last peace the Irish have been continually emigrating to America. The reason of this is, that in Ireland wages are much less than in England, and that the lower classes are consequently great sufferers. Germany has also furnished new citizens to the United States; and all these laborers must, by leaving Europe, have raised the price of work for those who remain.

This salutary effect will be produced even without emigration, and will result from the mere possibility of emigrating, at least in those states of Europe whose inhabitants are not compelled to leave their own country by excessive taxation, bad laws, and the intolerance of government.

In order to raise the rate of wages it is enough that higher wages can be obtained in any place to which the workman who depends upon them can remove. It has been wisely remarked in the discussions which have arisen upon the corn-trade, that the simple liberty of exporting grain would keep up and even raise its price without the actual exportation of a single bushel. The case is the same with wages. As European workmen can so easily remove to America to procure higher wages, they will oblige those who purchase their labor to pay them more for it.

Hence it follows, that these two causes of the rise of wages, actual emigration and the mere possibility of emigrating, will concur to produce the same effect. Each acting at first in an inconsiderable degree, there will be some emigration. Then wages will be Edition: current; Page: [52] raised, and the laborer, finding his gains increase, will no longer have a sufficiently powerful motive to emigrate.

But the rise of wages will not be equally felt by the different nations of Europe. It will be more or less considerable in proportion to the greater or less facilities for emigration which each affords. England, whose manners, language, and religion are the same with those of America, must naturally enjoy this advantage in a higher degree than any other European state. We may assert that she already owes much to America; for her relations with that country, the market which she has found there for her merchandise, and which has raised the wages of the day laborers employed in her agriculture and manufactures, are among the principal causes of her wealth, and of the political influence we find her exerting.

But, to say nothing of other advantages which may ultimately accrue from the rise of wages, this augmentation has already produced one most valuable result in England. It has ameliorated the condition of that class of men who live by the labor of their hands alone—that is, the most numerous portion of society. This class, elsewhere reduced to the most scanty subsistence, are much better off in England. They there obtain by their labor the necessaries of life in greater abundance than in many other parts of Europe; and there can be no doubt that this springs from the influence of American commerce on the rate of wages.

I know it may be said that, notwithstanding the Edition: current; Page: [53] increase of labor and of subsistence in Europe, and notwithstanding the emigration which may take place, the same causes which we have mentioned, and which have reduced wages so low, will continue to operate, because they are inherent in the constitutions of European states, whose defects will not be remedied by the liberty and prosperity of America. Perhaps it may be said, also, that the number of proprietors and capitalists, a number very small compared with that of the men who, having no landed property nor capital, are compelled to live upon wages, will remain the same, because the causes which accumulate landed property and capital in their hands will not change, and consequently that they will reduce, or rather keep wages very low. Finally, it may be said that the tyranny of the feudal laws, the mode of taxation, the excessive increase of the public revenue, and the laws of commerce, will always produce the same effect of diminishing wages, and that, should Europe derive any real advantage, in this respect, from American independence, it would not be permanent.

To these suggestions, many things may be said in reply. I will observe, in the first place, that, if the governments of Europe endeavor to counteract the salutary effects which the independence of America would naturally produce in respect to them, it is not the less interesting to endeavor to ascertain what these effects would be. Better days may come when, the true principles of the happiness of nations being better understood, there will be some sovereign sufficiently enlightened and just to put them in Edition: current; Page: [54] operation. The causes, which tend continually to accumulate and concentrate landed property and wealth in a few hands, may be diminished. The remains of the feudal system may be abolished, or, at least, rendered less oppressive. The mode of taxation may be changed, and its excess moderated. And, lastly, bad commercial regulations may be amended. The tendency of all these improvements will be to enable the working classes to profit by the favorable change which the American Revolution must naturally produce.

But, admitting that all the causes, which have just been mentioned, should concur to keep the wages, which the day laborer receives for his work in Europe, at a low rate, they could, however, only weaken the influence exerted by the prosperity of America, and not wholly destroy it. If every thing else remained in the same state, there would still be a greater consumption, and consequently more labor to be performed. Now, this consumption and labor continually increasing in the same ratio with the increase of population and wealth in the new world, an augmentation of wages in Europe will be the necessary result; for the counteracting causes will not operate more powerfully than they now do.1

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By the original law of nations, war and extirpation were the punishment of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death; a farther step was the exchange of prisoners, instead of slavery; another, to respect more the property of Edition: current; Page: [56] private persons under conquest, and be content with acquired dominion. Why should not this law of nations go on improving? Ages have intervened between its several steps; but as knowledge of late increases rapidly, why should not those steps be quickened? Why should it not be agreed to, as the future law of nations, that in any war hereafter, the following description of men should be undisturbed, have the protection of both sides, and be permitted to follow their employments in security? viz.:

1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labor for the subsistence of mankind.

2. Fishermen, for the same reason.

3. Merchants and traders in unarmed ships, who accommodate different nations by communicating and exchanging the necessaries and conveniences of life.

4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in open towns.

It is hardly necessary to add that the hospitals of enemies should be unmolested;—they ought to be assisted. It is for the interest of humanity in general, that the occasions of war, and the inducements to it, should be diminished. If rapine be abolished, one of the encouragements to war is taken away; and peace therefore more likely to continue and be lasting.

The practice of robbing merchants on the high seas—a remnant of the ancient piracy,—though it may be accidentally beneficial to particular persons, is far from being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorizes it. In the beginning of a war, some rich ships are surprised and taken. This Edition: current; Page: [57] encourages the first adventurers to fit out more armed vessels, and many others to do the same. But the enemy at the same time become more careful, arm their merchant-ships better, and render them not so easy to be taken; they go also more under the protection of convoys. Thus, while the privateers to take them are multiplied, the vessels subject to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; so that many cruises are made, wherein the expenses overgo the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though particulars have got prizes, the mass of adventurers are losers, the whole expense of fitting out all the privateers during a war being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.

Then there is the national loss of all the labor of so many men during the time they have been employed in robbing, who, besides, spend what they get in riot, drunkenness, and debauchery, lose their habits of industry, are rarely fit for any sober business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen and house-breakers. Even the undertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues, when the means of supporting it cease, and finally ruins them; a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common interest of mankind.

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Lion, king of a certain forest, had among his subjects a body of faithful dogs, in principle and affection strongly attached to his person and government, and through whose assistance he had extended his dominions, and had become the terror of his enemies.

Lion, however, influenced by evil councellors, took an aversion to the dogs, condemned them unheard, and ordered his tigers, leopards, and panthers to attack and destroy them.

The dogs petitioned humbly, but their petitions were rejected haughtily; and they were forced to defend themselves, which they did with bravery.

A few among them, of a mongrel race, derived from a mixture with wolves and foxes, corrupted by royal promises of great rewards, deserted the honest dogs and joined their enemies.

The dogs were finally victorious; a treaty of peace was made, in which Lion acknowledged them to be free, and disclaimed all future authority over them.

The mongrels, not being permitted to return among them, claimed of the royalists the reward that had been promised.

A council of the beasts was held to consider their demand.

The wolves and the foxes agreed unanimously that the demand was just, that royal promises ought to be Edition: current; Page: [59] kept, and that every loyal subject should contribute freely to enable his Majesty to fulfil them.

The horse alone, with a boldness and freedom that became the nobleness of his nature, delivered a contrary opinion.

“The king,” said he, “has been misled by bad ministers, to war unjustly upon his faithful subjects. Royal promises, when made to encourage us to act for the public good, should indeed be honorably acquitted; but if to encourage us to betray and destroy each other they are wicked and void from the beginning. The advisers of such promises, and those who murdered in consequence of them instead of being recompensed, should be severely punished. Consider how greatly our common strength is already diminished by the loss of the dogs. If you enable the king to reward these fratricides, you will establish a precedent that may justify a future tyrant in making like promises; and every example of such an unnatural brute rewarded will give them additional weight. Horses and bulls, as well as dogs, may thus be divided against their own kind, and civil wars produced at pleasure, till we are so weakened that neither liberty nor safety is any longer to be found in the forest, and nothing remains but abject submission to the will of a despot, who may devour us as he pleases.”

The council had sense enough to resolve,—That the demand be rejected.

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. . . Two hundred and eighty-eight persons called Loyalists, and specified by name in the Morning Post, classed in the following manner:

Persons residing in Great Britain 32
Deceased persons 34
Apostates, that is to say, persons who had conformed to the American Government, and voluntarily taken the necessary oaths, among whom also are divers who had been demagogues and leaders of the people, and who had reformed in hopes of saving their estates after the capture of Charlestown by Sir Henry Clinton, and who are now desirous of being reformed for the same benefit, 139
Persons of doubtful principle, viz., who, from the beginning, were endeavoring to play a safe game, and take the strongest side, as occasion might offer 12
Persons whose names are unknown, and others who are known to be of no weight or importance, the greatest part of whom would probably come under the title of Apostates, 71
American True Loyalists 000
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. . . . . .

1. The burning of Charlestown, (date ——), a fine town by the waterside, being a port, but without any defence. A spire, rising among the houses, belonging to the House of Worship. A belfrey belonging to the Town House all in flames, the inhabitants had all left it.

2. The burning of Falmouth—date, November, 1775—a fine town and port, but without defence. Ships firing hot shot, and throwing bombs and carcases into the town; English colors. The houses partly in flames, sailors with torches setting fire to others.

The inhabitants flying out of it, carrying off the sick and aged. Women with children in their arms, some killed as they go off, and lying on the ground.

3. The burning of Norfolk, fine town and port, several churches, Town House. Inhabitants flying as above, and ships firing.

4. The burning of Bedford, } All defenceless places.
5. The burning of Esopus, }
6. The cannonading of Bristol, }
7. of Stoningtown, }

People flying, etc.

8. The putting prisoners to death in cold blood after having surrendered their arms, and demanded quarter. Baylor’s troop.

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9. Prisoners dying in their gaols with hunger, cold, and want of fresh air.

10. Dunmore’s hiring the negroes to murder their master’s family.

A large house.

Blacks armed with guns and hangers. Master and his sons on the ground dead, wife and daughters lifted up in the arms of the negroes as they are carrying off.

11. Savages killing and scalping the frontier farmers and their families, women and children. English officers mixed with the savages, and giving them orders and encouraging them.

12. Governor Tomyn sitting in state, a table before him, his soldiers and savages bringing him scalps of the Georgia people, and presenting them. Money on the table with which he pays for them.

13. The commanding officer at Niagara, receiving in like manner the scalps of the Wyoming families.

14. The King of England, giving audience to his Secretary at War, who presents him a schedule entitled Acct. of Scalps. Which he receives very graciously.

15. American prisoners, put on board men-of-war, and whipped to make them fight against their countrymen and relations.

16. Americans put on board ships in irons to be carried to the East Indies, and Senegal, where they die with misery and the unwholesomeness of the climate.

17. Burning the wounded with straw at the Crooked Billet, small place in Pennsylvania.

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18. ——prisoners killed and roasted for a great Festival where the Canadi [mutilated in MS.] Indians are eating American flesh, Colonel Butler an English officer sitting at table.

19. British officers who, being prisoners on parole, are well received in the best American families, and take that opportunity of corrupting negroes and engaging them to desert from the house, to rob, and even murder their masters.

20. American officers who, as they arrive in the British camp, are insulted by an enraged soldiery—their money, their cockades, their sword, and all their clothes taken away from them.

21. A duty prison-ship where American officers are confined without being at liberty to take the air, and so crowded that they can live but a few days. British officers come to laugh at them and insult their miseries —— of ———.

22. British officers plundering with their own hands from houses, abusing the old people of the house, insulting the young landlady, and frightening the children.

23. An honorable captain coming last spring in the house of a gentleman called Mr. West at White Marsh, rushing in the room where Miss West and another young lady were sleeping, at two o’clock in the morning. The captain and soldiers jump to the beds of the two ladies and with fixed bayonets upon their breasts, make several enquiries and laugh at their dreadful situation in the most abusive manner.

24. An other right honorable captain going out on a detachment and killing defenceless people.

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25. General Gage’s perfidy to the inhabitants of Boston.

26. Counterfeiting the paper money.


Your queries concerning the value of land in different circumstances and situations, modes of settlement, etc., etc., are quite out of my power to answer; having while I lived in America been always an inhabitant of capital cities, and not in the way of learning any thing correctly of country affairs. There is a book lately published in London written by Mr. Hector St. John, its title, Letters from an American Farmer, which contains a good deal of information on those subjects; and as I know the author to be an observing, intelligent man, I suppose the information to be good as far as it goes, and I recommend the book to your perusal.

There is no doubt but great tracts may be purchased on the frontiers of Virginia and the Carolinas, at moderate rates. In Virginia it used to be at £5 sterling the 100 acres. I know not the present price, but do not see why it should be higher.

Emigrants arriving pay no fine or premium for being admitted to all the privileges of citizens. Those are acquired by two years’ residence.

No rewards are given to encourage new settlers to come among us, whatever degree of property they Edition: current; Page: [65] may bring with them, nor any exemptions from common duties. Our country offers to strangers nothing but a good climate, fertile soil, wholesome air, free governments, wise laws, liberty, a good people to live among, and a hearty welcome. Those Europeans who have these or greater advantages at home, would do well to stay where they are.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 February, 1789
Alexander Small
Small, Alexander


Dear Friend:

I have just received your kind letter of November 29th, and am much obliged by your friendly attention in sending me the receipt, which, on occasion, I may make trial of; but, the stone I have being a large one, as I find by the weight it falls with when I turn in bed, I have no hope of its being dissoluble by any medicine; and having been for some time past pretty free from pain, I am afraid of tampering. I congratulate you on the escape you had by avoiding the one you mention that was as big as a kidney bean; had it been retained it might soon have become too large to pass and proved the cause of much pain at times, as mine had been to me.

Having served my time of three years as President, I have now renounced all public business, and enjoy the otium cum dignitate. My friends indulge me with their frequent visits, which I have now leisure Edition: current; Page: [66] to receive and enjoy. The Philosophical Society, and the Society for Political Inquiries, meet at my house, which I have enlarged by additional building, that affords me a large room for those meetings, another over it for my library, now very considerable, and over all some lodging rooms. I have seven promising grandchildren by my daughter, who play with and amuse me, and she is a kind, attentive nurse to me when I am at any time indisposed; so that I pass my time as agreeably as at my age a man may well expect, and have little to wish for, except a more easy exit than my malady seems to threaten.

The deafness you complain of gives me concern, as, if great, it must diminish considerably your pleasure in conversation. If moderate, you may remedy it easily and readily by putting your thumb and fingers behind your ear, pressing it outwards and enlarging it, as it were, with the hollow of your hand. By an exact experiment, I found that I could hear the tick of a watch at forty-five feet distance by this means, which was barely audible at twenty feet without it. The experiment was made at midnight when the house was still.

I am glad you have sent those directions respecting ventilation to the Edinburgh Society. I hope you have added an account of the experience you had of it at Minorca. If they do not print your paper, send it to me, and it shall be in the third volume, which we are about to publish of our transactions.

Mrs. Hewson joins with us in best wishes for your health and happiness. Her eldest son has gone Edition: current; Page: [67] through his studies at our college, and taken his degree. The youngest is still there, and will be graduated this summer. My grandson presents his respects; and I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—You never mention the receipt of any letters from me. I wish to know if they come to hand, particularly my last, enclosing the Apologue.1 You mention some of my old friends being dead, but not their names.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 March, 1789
Catherine Greene
Greene, Catherine


Dear Friend:

Having now done with public affairs, which have hitherto taken up so much of my time, I shall endeavor to enjoy, during the small remainder of life that is left to me, some of the pleasures of conversing with my old friends by writing, since their distance prevents my hope of seeing them again.

I received one of the bags of sweet corn you were so good as to send me a long time since, but the other never came to hand. Even the letter mentioning it, though dated December 10, 1787, has been above a year on its way; for I received it but about two weeks since from Baltimore, in Maryland. Edition: current; Page: [68] The corn I did receive was excellent, and gave me great pleasure. Accept my hearty thanks.

I am, as you suppose in the above-mentioned old letter, much pleased to hear that my young friend Ray is “smart in the farming way,” and makes such substantial fences. I think agriculture the most honorable of all employments, being the most independent. The farmer has no need of popular favor, nor the favor of the great; the success of his crops depending only on the blessing of God upon his honest industry. I congratulate your good spouse, that he, as well as myself, is now free from public cares, and that he can bend his whole attention to his farming, which will afford him both profit and pleasure; a business which nobody knows better how to manage with advantage.

I am too old to follow printing again myself, but, loving the business, I have brought up my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a printing-house for him, which he now manages under my eye. I have great pleasure in the rest of my grandchildren, who are now in number eight, and all promising, the youngest only six months old, but shows signs of great good nature. My friends here are numerous, and I enjoy as much of their conversation as I can reasonably wish; and I have as much health and cheerfulness as can well be expected at my age, now eighty-three. Hitherto this long life has been tolerably happy; so that, if I were allowed to live it over again, I should make no objection, only wishing for leave to do what authors do in a second edition of their works, correct some of my errata. Edition: current; Page: [69] Among the felicities of my life I reckon your friendship, which I shall remember with pleasure as long as that life lasts, being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin
4 March, 1789
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


My Dearest Sir:

I am most peculiarly gratified by the contents of your last favor to me. I am convinced that your Life must be the most useful work the world ever saw. As such, I hope you will live to write it and I to read it. If any letter of mine had a share in inducing you to go through it, I hope it will be excepted from the request I have made you, to burn my idle correspondence. In that letter I shall have a real pride, be it written in whatever style it may. I hope that you will incorporate your Art of Virtue in your Life, that the world may read both works together. I have presumed to communicate to your friends your design as expressed in your letter, and those who know you as I do, are just as anxious as I am to see the account you are to give of yourself.

Among this number stands the Bishop of St. Asaph’s family, who, good man, is no more. He dined with me last winter, and in every thing announced a decline of mental and bodily faculties, though when I dined with and visited him afterwards, Edition: current; Page: [70] he a little rallied. But matters had gone too far for his friends ever to hope a return of his usual state. They say he died worth money upwards of £40,000, which goes chiefly to the disposal of Mrs. Shipley. The Dean inclined to contest a codicil, which he wrote but did not sign; but Dr. Price tells me, this will all be terminated by an amiable suit in chancery.

You ordered only ten of the Senator’s Remembrancers, and I sent twelve. My bill will be confined to this, and you will thank [sic] me by lodging the money with my brother John, whose receipt will be your discharge. I have the plates in my possession; having had them left in pawn for other small sums advanced to Mrs. Stewart, who is a very troublesome and abusive, and I fear, not very creditable woman.

We can have but one opinion about war or heresy. I think the King of Prussia’s works highly important to the world with respect to the first of these subjects; I mean his posthumous works, especially the first and fifth volumes.

The King of Sweden, unless he can bring the states now convened into good humor, can only stir in proportion as he is subsidized; and subsidies are not so common as they were when European states were richer. Thus there are some evils which check themselves. The Turks fell off at the end of the campaign from the usual retreat of many of their troops at that period.

I shall soon return my thank[s to the] Rumsean Society for their civilty to me. Mr. Rumsey is an Edition: current; Page: [71] ingenious man, with his thoughts bent to one object, and I have little doubt of his accomplishing several considerable schemes if he has health and support.

Being consulted about an encyclopedia, I recommended the only complete one much regarded here. It may be too expensive for your friend, who I since find is Mrs. Hewson; but I should presume may be disposed of, if not approved, without loss.

Your acquaintance here go on pretty much as usual.

As to home politics, the king before his illness became popular, from dislike to his sons; M. Pitt, from dislike to his opponents, has regained popularity; and Mr. Fox has a sort of regard paid to him from dislike to Mr. Sheridan. This is not a promising state of things to us. Administration being now upon their guard, will take care never to let the Regency to slip out of their hands again. These late struggles have unhappily shown, however, how little any of these people are capable of grand political ideas or plans. They understand faction, and even that often but ill, but seem to know nothing of the new systems of general politics. I wish your country may set them proper examples. Believe me ever, my dear sir, yours most affectionately, gratefully, and respectfully,

B. Vaughan.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 April, 1789
Catherine Louisa Shipley
Shipley, Catherine Louisa


It is only a few days since the kind letter of my dear young friend, dated December 24th, came to Edition: current; Page: [72] my hands. I had before, in the public papers, met with the afflicting news that letter contained. That excellent man has then left us! His departure is a loss, not to his family and friends only, but to his nation, and to the world; for he was intent on doing good, had wisdom to devise the means, and talents to promote them. His Sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and his Speech intended to have been spoken,1 are proofs of his ability, as well as his humanity. Had his counsels in those pieces been attended to by the ministers, how much bloodshed might have been prevented, and how much expense and disgrace to the nation avoided!

Your reflections on the constant calmness and composure attending his death are very sensible. Such instances seem to show that the good sometimes enjoy in dying a foretaste of the happy state they are about to enter.

According to the course of years, I should have quitted this world long before him. I shall, however, not be long in following. I am now in my eighty-fourth year, and the last year has considerably enfeebled me; so that I hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear friend, consider this as probably the last line to be received from me, and as a taking leave. Present my best and most sincere respects to your good mother, and love to the rest of the family, to whom I wish all happiness; and believe me to be, while I do live, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [73]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 May, 1789
Charles Carroll
Carroll, Charles


Dear Friend:

I am glad to see, by the papers, that our grand machine has at length begun to work. I pray God to bless and guide its operations. If any form of government is capable of making a nation happy, ours I think bids fair now for producing that effect. But, after all, much depends upon the people who are to be governed. We have been guarding against an evil that old states are most liable to, excess of power in the rulers; but our present danger seems to be defect of obedience in the subjects. There is hope, however, from the enlightened state of this age and country, we may guard effectually against that evil as well as the rest.

My grandson, William Temple Franklin, will have the honor of presenting this line. He accompanied me to France, and remained with me during my mission. I beg leave to recommend him to your notice, and that you would believe me, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 May, 1789
Richard Price
Price, Richard


My very dear Friend:

I received your kind letter, enclosing one from Miss Kitty Shipley, Edition: current; Page: [74] informing me of the good Bishop’s decease, which afflicted me greatly. My friends drop off one after another, when my age and infirmities prevent my making new ones; and, if I still retained the necessary activity and ability, I hardly see among the existing generation where I could make them of equal goodness. So that the longer I live I must expect to be the more wretched. As we draw nearer the conclusion of life nature furnishes us with more helps to wean us from it, among which one of the most powerful is the loss of such dear friends.

I send you with this the two volumes of our Transactions, as I forget whether you had the first before. If you had, you will please to give this to the French Ambassador, requesting his conveyance of it to the good Duke de la Rochefoucauld.

My best wishes attend you, being ever, with sincere and great esteem, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.


As the English school in the Academy has been, and still continues to be, a subject of dispute and Edition: current; Page: [75] discussion among the trustees since the restitution of the charter, and it has been proposed that we should have some regard to the original intention of the founders in establishing that school, I beg leave, for your information, to lay before you what I know of that matter originally, and what I find on the minutes relating to it, by which it will appear how far the design of that school has been adhered to or neglected.

Having acquired some little reputation among my fellow-citizens, by projecting the public library in 1732, and obtaining the subscriptions by which it was established, and by proposing and promoting, with success, sundry other schemes of utility in 1749, I was encouraged to hazard another project, that of a public education for our youth. As in the scheme of the library I had provided only for English books, so in this new scheme my ideas went no further than to procure the means of a good English education. A number of my friends, to whom I communicated the proposal, concurred with me in these ideas; but Mr. Allen, Mr. Francis, Mr. Peters, and some other persons of wealth and learning, whose subscriptions and countenance we should need, being of opinion that it ought to include the learned languages, I submitted my judgment to theirs, retaining, however, a strong prepossession in favor of my first plan, and resolving to preserve as much of it as I could, and to nourish the English school by every means in my power.

Before I went about to procure subscriptions, I thought it proper to prepare the minds of the people Edition: current; Page: [76] by a pamphlet, which I wrote, and printed, and distributed with my newspapers gratis. The title was, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania. I happen to have preserved one of them; and, by reading a few passages, it will appear how much the English learning was insisted upon in it; and I had good reasons to know that this was a prevailing part of the motives for subscribing with most of the original benefactors.1 I met with but Edition: current; Page: [77] few refusals in soliciting the subscriptions; and the sum was the more considerable, as I had put the contribution on this footing, that it was not to be Edition: current; Page: [78] immediate, and the whole paid at once, but in parts, a fifth annually during five years. To put the machine in motion, twenty-four of the principal Edition: current; Page: [79] subscribers agreed to take upon themselves the trust; and a set of constitutions for their government, and for the regulation of the schools, were Edition: current; Page: [80] drawn up by Mr. Francis and myself, which were signed by us all, and printed, that the public might know what was to be expected. I wrote also a Edition: current; Page: [81] paper, entitled Idea of an English School, which was printed, and afterwards annexed to Mr. Peters’ sermon, preached at the opening of the Academy. This paper was said to be for the consideration of the trustees; and the expectation of the public that the idea might in a great measure be carried into execution, contributed to render the subscriptions more liberal as well as more general. I mention my concern in these transactions, to show the opportunity I had of being well informed in the points I am relating.

These constitutions are upon record in your minutes; Edition: current; Page: [82] and, although the Latin and Greek are by them to be taught, the original idea of a complete English education was not forgotten, as will appear by the following extracts.

Page 1. “The English tongue is to be taught grammatically, and as a language.”

Page 4. In reciting the qualification of the person to be appointed rector, it is said, “that great regard is to be had to his polite speaking, writing, and understanding the English tongue.

“The rector was to have two hundred pounds a year, for which he was to be obliged to teach twenty boys, without any assistance (and twenty-five more for every usher provided for him), the Latin and Greek languages; and at the same time instruct them in history, geography, chronology, logic, rhetoric, and the English tongue.

“The rector was also, on all occasions consistent with his duty in the Latin school, to assist the English master in improving the youth under his care.

Page 5. “The trustees shall, with all convenient speed, contract with any person that offers, whom they shall judge most capable of teaching the English tongue grammatically and as a language, history, geography, chronology, logic, and oratory; which person shall be styled the English master.

The English master was to have one hundred pounds a year, for which he was to teach, without any assistance, forty scholars the English tongue grammatically; and at the same time instruct them in history, geography, chronology, logic, and oratory; Edition: current; Page: [83] and sixty scholars more for every usher provided for him.

It is to be observed in this place, that here are two distinct courses in the same study, that is, of the same branches of science, viz., history, geography, chronology, logic, and oratory, to be carried on at the same time, but not by the same tutor or master. The English master is to teach his scholars all those branches of science, and also the English tongue grammatically as a language. The Latin master is to teach the same sciences to his boys, besides the Greek and Latin. He was also to assist the English master occasionally, without which, and his general care in the government of the schools, the giving him double salary seems not well accounted for. But here are plainly two distinct schools or courses of education provided for. The Latin master was not to teach the English scholars logic, rhetoric, etc.; that was the duty of the English master; but he was to teach those sciences to the Latin scholars. We shall see, hereafter, how easily this original plan was defeated and departed from.

When the constitution was first drawn, blanks were left for the salaries, and for the number of boys the Latin master was to teach. The first instance of partiality in favor of the Latin part of the institution, was in giving the title of rector to the Latin master, and no title to the English one. But the most striking instance was, when we met to sign, and the blanks were first to be filled up, the votes of a majority carried it to twice as much salary to the Latin master as to the English, and yet require twice Edition: current; Page: [84] as much duty from the English master as from the Latin, viz., £200 to the Latin master to twenty boys; £100 to the English master to teach forty! However, the trustees who voted these salaries being themselves by far the greatest subscribers, though not the most numerous, it was thought they had a kind of right to predominate in money matters; and those who had wished an equal regard might have been shown to both schools, submitted, though not without regret, and at times some little complaining, which, with their not being able in nine months to find a proper person for English master, who would undertake the office for so low a salary, induced the trustees at length, viz., in July, 1750, to offer £50 more.

Another instance of the partiality above mentioned was in the March preceding, when £100 sterling was voted to buy Latin and Greek books, maps, drafts, and instruments for the use of the Academy, and nothing for the English books.

The great part of the subscribers, who had the English education chiefly in view, were, however, soothed into a submission to these partialities, chiefly by the expectation given them by the Constitution, viz., that the trustees would make it their pleasure, and in some degree their business, to visit the Academy often, to encourage and countenance the youth, look on the students as in some measure their own children, treat them with familiarity and affection; and, when they have behaved well, gone through their studies, and are to enter the world, the trustees shall zealously unite, and make all the Edition: current; Page: [85] interest that can be made, to promote and establish them, whether in business, offices, marriages, or any other thing for their advantage, preferable to all other persons whatsoever, even of equal merit.

These splendid promises dazzled the eyes of the public. The trustees were most of them the principal gentlemen of the province. Children taught in other schools had no reason to expect such powerful patronage. The subscribers had placed such entire confidence in them as to leave themselves no power of changing them, if their conduct of the plan should be disapproved; and so, in hopes of the best, all these partialities were submitted to.

Near a year passed before a proper person was found to take charge of the English school. At length Mr. Dove, who had been many years master of a school in England, and had come hither with an apparatus for giving lectures in experimental philosophy, was prevailed with by me, after his lectures were finished, to accept that employment for the salary offered, though he thought it too scanty. He had a good voice, read perfectly well, with proper accent and just pronunciation, and his method of communicating habits of the same kind to his pupils was this: When he gave a lesson to one of them, he always first read it to him aloud, with all the different modulations of voice that the subject and sense required. These the scholars, in study and repeating the lesson, naturally endeavored to imitate; and it was really surprising to see how soon they caught his manner, which convinced me and others who frequently attended his school that though bad Edition: current; Page: [86] tones and manners in reading are, when once acquired, rarely, with difficulty, if ever cured, yet, when none have been already formed, good ones are as easily learned as bad. In a few weeks after opening his school, the trustees were invited to hear the scholars read and recite. The parents and relations of the boys also attended. The performers were surprisingly good, and of course were admired and applauded; and the English school thereby acquired such reputation that the number of Mr. Dove’s scholars soon amounted to upwards of ninety, which number did not diminish as long as he continued master, viz., upwards of two years; but, he finding the salary insufficient, and having set up a school for girls in his own house to supply the deficiency, and quitting the boys’ school somewhat before the hour to attend the girls, the trustees disapproved of his so doing, and he quitted their employment, continued his girls’ school, and opened one for boys on his own account. The trustees provided another English master; but though a good man, yet not possessing the talents of an English schoolmaster in the same perfection with Mr. Dove, the school diminished daily, and soon was found to have but about forty scholars left. The performances of the boys in reading and speaking were no longer so brilliant; the trustees of course had not the same pleasure in hearing them, and the monthly visitations, which had so long afforded a delightful entertainment to large audiences, became less and less attended, and at length discontinued; and the English school has never since recovered its original reputation.

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Thus, by our injudiciously starving the English part of our scheme of education, we only saved fifty pounds a year, which was required as an additional salary to an acknowledged excellent English master, which would have equalled his encouragement to that of the Latin master; I say, by saving the £50 we lost fifty scholars, which would have been £200 a year, and defeated, besides, one great end of the institution.

In the meantime our favors were showered upon the Latin part; the number of teachers was increased, and their salaries from time to time augmented, till, if I mistake not, they amounted in the whole to more than £600 a year, though the scholars hardly ever exceeded sixty; so that each scholar cost the funds £10 per annum, while he paid but £4, which was a loss of £6 every one of them.

The monthly visitations of the schools by the trustees having been long neglected, the omission was complained of by the parents as a breach of original promise; whereupon the trustees, July 11, 1755, made it a law, that “they should meet on the second Tuesday in every month at the Academy, to visit the schools, examine the scholars, hear their public exercises, etc.” This good law, however, like many others, was not long observed; for I find by a minute of December 14, 1756, that the examination of the schools by the trustees had been long neglected, and it was agreed that it should thereafter be done on the first Monday in every month; and yet, notwithstanding this new rule, the neglect returned, so that we are informed by another minute Edition: current; Page: [88] of January, 1761, “that for five months past there had not been one meeting of the trustees.” In the course of fourteen years several of the original trustees, who had been disposed to favor the English school, deceased, and others not so favorable were chosen to supply their places; however, it appears by the minutes that the remainder had sometimes weight enough to recall the attention of their colleagues to that school, and obtain acknowledgments of the unjust neglect it had been treated with. Of this the following extracts from the minutes are authentic proofs, viz. (Minute Book, Vol. I., February 8, 1763): “The state of the English school was taken into consideration, and it was observed, that Mr. Kinnersley’s time was entirely taken up in teaching little boys the elements of the English language (this is what it dwindled into, a school similar to those kept by old women, who teach children their letters); and that speaking and rehearsing in public were totally disused, to the great prejudice of the other scholars and students, and contrary to the original design of the trustees in the forming of that school; and, as, this was a matter of great importance, it was particularly recommended to be fully considered by the trustees at their next meeting.” At their next meeting it was not considered; but this minute contains full proof of the fact, that the English education had been neglected, and it contains an acknowledgment that the conduct of the English school was contrary to the original design of the trustees in forming it.

In the same book of minutes we find the following, Edition: current; Page: [89] of April 12, 1763: “The state of the English school was again taken into consideration; and it was the opinion of the trustees that the original design should be prosecuted, of teaching the scholars (of that and the other schools the elegance of the English language, and giving them a proper pronunciation; and that the old method of hearing them read and repeat in public should be again used. And a committee was appointed to confer with Mr. Kinnersley how this might best be done, as well as what assistance would be necessary to give Mr. Kinnersley to enable him to attend this necessary service, which, was indeed the proper business of his professorship.”

In this minute we have another acknowledgment of what was the original design of the English school; but here are some words thrown in to countenance an innovation, which had been for some time practised. The words are “and the other schools.” Originally, by the constitutions, the rector was to teach the Latin scholars their English. The words of the constitution are: “The rector shall be obliged, without the assistance of any usher, to teach twenty scholars the Latin and Greek languages, and the English tongue.” To enable him to do this, we have seen that some of his qualifications, indispensably required, were, his polite speaking, writing, and understanding the English tongue. Having these, he was enjoined, on all occasions consistent with his other duties, to assist the English master in improving the boys under his care; but there is not a word obliging the English master to teach the Latin boys English. Edition: current; Page: [90] However, the Latin masters, either unable to do it, or unwilling to take the trouble, had got him up among them, and employed so much of his time, that this minute owns he could not, without further assistance, attend the necessary service of his own school, which, as the minute expressly says, “was indeed the proper business of his professorship.”

Notwithstanding this good resolution of the trustees, it seems the execution of it was neglected; and, the public not being satisfied, they were again haunted by the friends of the children with the old complaint, that the original constitutions were not complied with in regard to the English school. Their situation was unpleasant. On the one hand there were still remaining some of the first trustees, who were friends to the scheme of English education, and these would now and then be remarking that it was neglected, and would be moving for a reformation; the constitutions at the same time, staring the trustees in the face, gave weight to these remarks. On the other hand, the Latinists were combined to decry the English school as useless. It was without example, they said, as indeed they still say, that a school for teaching the vulgar tongue, and the sciences in that tongue, was ever joined with a college, and that the Latin masters were fully competent to teach the English.

I will not say that the Latinists looked on every expense upon the English school as so far disabling the trustees from augmenting their salaries, and therefore regarding it with an evil eye; but, when I find the minutes constantly filled with their applications Edition: current; Page: [91] for higher wages, I cannot but see their great regard for money matters, and suspect a little their using their interest and influence to prevail with the trustees not to encourage that school. And, indeed, the following minute is so different in spirit and sentiment from all that last recited, that one cannot avoid concluding that some extraordinary pains must have been taken with the trustees between the two meetings of April 12th and June 13th, to produce a resolution so very different, which here follows in this minute, viz., “June 13, 1763; some of the parents of the children in the Academy having complained that their children were not taught to speak and read in public, and having requested that this useful part of education might be more attended to, Mr. Kinnersley was called in, and desired to give an account of what was done in this branch of his duty; and he declared that this was well taught, not only in the English school, which was more immediately under his care, but in the philosophy classes regularly every Monday afternoon, and as often at other times as his other business would permit. And it not appearing to the trustees that any more could at present be done, without partiality and great inconvenience, and that this was all that was ever proposed to be done, they did not incline to make any alteration, or to lay any further burthen on Mr. Kinnersley.” Note here, that the English school had not for some years preceding been visited by the trustees. If it had, they would have known the state of it without making this inquiry of the master. They might have judged, whether the children more immediately Edition: current; Page: [92] under his care were in truth well taught, without taking his word for it, as it appears they did. But it seems he had a merit, which, when he pleaded it, effectually excused him. He spent his time when out of the English school in instructing the philosophy classes who were of the Latin part of the institution. Therefore they did not think proper to lay any further burthen upon him.

It is a little difficult to conceive how these trustees could bring themselves to declare, that “No more could be done in the English school than was then done, and that it was all that was ever proposed to be done”; when their preceding minute declares that “the original design was teaching scholars the elegance of the English language, and giving them a proper pronunciation; and that hearing them read and repeat in public was the old method, and should be again used.” And, certainly, the method that had been used might be again used, if the trustees had thought fit to order Mr. Kinnersley to attend his own school, and not spend his time in the philosophy classes, where his duty did not require his attendance. What the apprehended partiality was, which the minute mentions, does not appear, and cannot now be easily imagined; and the great inconvenience of obliging him to attend his own school could only be by depriving the Latinists of his assistance, to which they had no right.

The trustees may possibly have supposed, that by this resolution they had precluded all future attempts to trouble them with respect to their conduct of the English school. The parents indeed, despairing of Edition: current; Page: [93] any reformation, withdrew their children and placed them in private schools, of which several now appeared in the city, professing to teach what had been promised to be taught in the Academy; and they have since flourished and increased by the scholars the Academy might have had if it had performed its engagements. But the public was not satisfied; and we find, five years after, the English school appearing again, after five years’ silence, haunting the trustees like an evil conscience, and reminding them of their failure in duty. For, of their meetings Jan. 19, and 26, 1768, we find these minutes: “Jan. 19, 1768: It having been remarked that the schools suffer in the public esteem by the discontinuance of public speaking, a special meeting is to be called on Tuesday next, to consider the state of the English school, and to regulate such matters as may be necessary.” “Jan. 26th: A special meeting. It is agreed to give Mr. Jon. Easton and Mr. Thomas Hall, at the rate of twenty-five pounds per annum each, for assisting Mr. Kinnersley in the English school, and taking care of the same when he shall be employed in teaching the students, in the philosophy classes and grammar school, the art of public speaking. A committee, Mr. Peters, Mr. Coxe, and Mr. Duché, with the masters, was appointed to fix rules and times for employing the youth in public speaking. Mr. Easton and Mr. Hall are to be paid out of a fund to be raised by some public performance for the benefit of the college.”

It appears from these minutes, 1. That the reputation of the Academy had suffered in the public Edition: current; Page: [94] esteem by the trustees’ neglect of that school. 2. That Mr. Kinnersley, whose sole business it was to attend it, had been called from his duty and employed in the philosophy classes and Latin grammar school, teaching the scholars there the art of public speaking, which the Latinists used to boast they could teach themselves. 3. That the neglect for so many years of the English scholars, by this subtraction of their master, was now acknowledged, and proposed to be remedied for the future by engaging two persons, Mr. Hall and Mr. Easton, at twenty-five pounds per annum, to take care of those scholars, while Mr. Kinnersley was employed among the Latinists.

Care was however taken by the trustees not to be at any expense for this assistance to Mr. Kinnersley; for Hall and Easton were only to be paid out of the uncertain fund of money to be raised by some public performance for the benefit of the college.

A committee was however now appointed to fix rules and times for employing the youth in public speaking. Whether any thing was done in consequence of these minutes, does not appear, no report of the committee respecting their doings being to be found on the records, and the probability is that they did, as heretofore, nothing to the purpose. For the English school continued to decline, and the first subsequent mention we find made of it, is in the minute of March 21, 1769, when the design began to be entertained of abolishing it altogether, whereby the Latinists would get rid of an eyesore, and the trustees of what occasioned them such frequent Edition: current; Page: [95] trouble. The minute is this: “The state of the English school is to be taken into consideration at next meeting, and whether it be proper to continue it on its present footing or not.” This consideration was, however, not taken at the next meeting, at least nothing was concluded so as to be minuted; nor do we find any further mention of the English school till the 18th of July, when the following minute was entered—viz.: “A special meeting is appointed to be held on Monday next, and notice to be given, that the design of this meeting is to consider whether the English school is to be longer continued.”

This special meeting was accordingly held on the 23d of July, 1769, of which date is the following minute and resolution, viz.: “The trustees at this meeting, as well as several former ones, having taken into their serious consideration the state of the English school, are unanimously of opinion, that as the said school is far from defraying the expense at which they now support it, and not thinking that they ought to lay out any great part of the funds intrusted to them on this branch of education, which can so easily be procured at other schools in this city, have resolved that from and after the 17th of October next Mr. Kinnersley’s present salary do cease, and that from that time the said school, if he shall be inclined to keep it, shall be on the following footing, viz., that he shall have the free use of the room where he now teaches, and also the whole tuition-money arising from the boys that may be taught by him, and that he continue professor of English and Edition: current; Page: [96] oratory, and, as such, have the house he lives in rent free, in consideration of his giving two afternoons in the week as heretofore, for the instruction of the students belonging to the college in public speaking, agreeable to such rules as are or shall be made for that purpose by the trustees and faculty. It is further ordered by this regulation, that the boys belonging to his school shall be still considered as part of the youth belonging to the college, and under the same general government of the trustees and faculty; and such of his scholars as may attend the mathematical or any other master having a salary from the college, for any part of their time, shall pay proportionably into the fund of the trustees, to be accounted for by Mr. Kinnersley, and deducted out of the twenty pounds per quarter now paid by the English scholars.”

The trustees hope this regulation may be agreeable to Mr. Kinnersley, as it proceeds entirely from the reasons set forth above, and not from any abatement of that esteem which they have always retained for him during the whole course of his services in college.

Upon this and some of the preceding minutes may be observed: 1. That the English school having been long neglected, the scholars were so diminished in number as to be far from defraying the expense in supporting it. 2. That the instruction they received there, instead of a complete English education, which had been promised to the subscribers by the original constitutions, were only such as might easily be procured at other schools in this city. 3. That this unprofitableness of the English school, Edition: current; Page: [97] owing to neglect of duty in the trustees, was now offered as a reason for demolishing it altogether. For it was easy to see that after depriving the master of his salary he could not long afford to continue it. 4. That if the insufficiency of the tuition money in the English school to pay the expense, and the ease with which the scholars might obtain equal instruction in other schools, were good reasons for depriving the master of his salary and destroying that school, they were equally good for dismissing the Latin masters, and sending their scholars to other schools; since it is notorious that the tuition money of the Latin school did not pay much above a fourth part of the salaries of the masters. For such reasons the trustees might equally well have got rid of all the scholars and all the masters, and remained in full possession of all the college property, without any future expense. 5. That by their refusing any longer to support, instead of reforming, as they ought to have done, the English school, they shamefully broke through and set at nought the original constitutions, for the due execution of which the faith of the original trustees had been solemnly pledged to the public, and diverted the revenues proceeding from much of the first subscriptions to other purposes than those which had been promised. Had the Assembly, when disposed to disfranchize the trustees, set their foot upon this ground, their proceeding to declare the forfeiture would have been more justifiable; and it may be hoped care will now be taken not to give any future Assembly the same handle.

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It seems, however, that this unrighteous resolve did not pass the trustees without a qualm in some of them. For at the next meeting a reconsideration was moved, and we find the following minute under the date of August 1, 1769: “The minute of last meeting relative to the English school was read, and after mature deliberation and reconsidering the same, it was voted to stand as it is, provided it should not be found any way repugnant to the first charter granted to the Academy, a copy of which was ordered to be procured out of the rolls office.”

One might have thought it natural for the trustees to have consulted this charter before they took the resolution, and not only the first charter, but the original constitutions; but, as it seems they had lost the instrument containing the charter, and, though it had been printed, not one of them was furnished with a copy to which he might refer, it is no wonder that they had forgot the constitutions made twenty years before, to which they do not seem to have in the least adverted.

Probably, however, the trustees found, when they came to examine original papers, that they could not easily get entirely rid of the English school, and so concluded to continue it. For I find in a law for premiums, minuted under the date of January 29, 1770, that the English and mathematical school is directed to be examined the third Tuesday in July, and a premium book of the value of one dollar was to be given to him that reads best, and understands best the English grammar, etc. This is very well; but to keep up the old partiality in favor of the Latin Edition: current; Page: [99] school, the premium to its boys was to be of the value of two dollars. In the premiums for best speaking they were, indeed, put upon an equality.

After reading this law for premiums I looked forward to the third Tuesday in July with some pleasing expectation of their effect on the examination required for that day. But I met with only this further record of the inattention of the trustees to their new resolutions and even laws, when they contained any thing favorable to the English school. The minute is only this: “July, August, September, October, no business done.”

On the 20th of November, however, I find there was an examination of the Latin school, and premiums, with pompous inscriptions, afterwards adjudged to Latin scholars; but I find no mention of any to the English, or that they were even examined. Perhaps there might have been none to examine, or the school discontinued; for it appears by a minute of July 21st, following, that the provost was desired to advertise for a master able to teach English grammatically, which it seems was all the English master was now required to teach, the other branches originally promised being dropped entirely.

In October, 1772, Mr. Kinnersley resigned his professorship, when Dr. Peters and others were appointed to consider on what footing the English school shall be put for the future, that a new master may be thought of, and Mr. Willing to take care of the school for the present at fifty pounds per annum. It is observable here that there is no mention of putting it on its original footing, and the salary is Edition: current; Page: [100] shrunk amazingly; but this resignation of Mr. Kinnersley gave occasion to one testimony of the utility of the English professor to the institution, notwithstanding all the partiality, neglect, slights, discouragements, and injustice that school had suffered. We find it in the minutes of a special meeting on the 2d of February, 1773, present Dr. Peters, Mr. Chew, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Willing, Mr. Trettel, and Mr. Inglis, and expressed in these strong terms:

“The college suffers greatly since Mr. Kinnersley left it for want of a person to teach public speaking, so that the present classes have not those opportunities of learning to declaim and speak which have been of so much use to their predecessors, and have contributed greatly to raise the credit of the institution.”

Here is another confession that the Latinists were unequal to the task of teaching English eloquence, though on occasion the contrary is still asserted.

I flatter myself, gentlemen, that it appears by this time pretty clearly from our own minutes, that the original plan of the English school has been departed from; that the subscribers to it have been disappointed and deceived, and the faith in the trustees not kept with them; that the public have been frequently dissatisfied with the conduct of the trustees, and complained of it; and, by the niggardly treatment of good masters, they have been driven out of the school, and the scholars have followed, while a great loss of revenue has been suffered by the Academy; so that the numerous schools now in the city owe their rise to our mismanagement, and that Edition: current; Page: [101] we might as well have had the best part of the tuition-money paid into our treasury, that now goes into private pockets; that there has been a constant disposition to depress the English school in favor of the Latin; and that every means to procure a more equitable treatment has been rendered ineffectual; so that no more hope remains while they continue to have any connection. It is, therefore, that, wishing as much good to the Latinists as their system can honestly procure for them, we now demand a separation, and without desiring to injure them; but claiming an equitable partition of our joint stock, we wish to execute the plan they have so long defeated, and afford the public the means of a complete English education.

I am the only one of the original trustees now living, and I am just stepping into the grave myself. I am afraid that some part of the blame incurred by the trustees may be laid on me, for having too easily submitted to the deviations from the constitution, and not opposing them with sufficient zeal and earnestness; though indeed my absence in foreign countries at different times for near thirty years, tended much to weaken my influence. To make what amends are yet in my power, I seize this opportunity, the last I may possibly have, of bearing testimony against those deviations. I seem here to be surrounded by the ghosts of my dear departed friends, beckoning and urging me to use the only tongue now left us, in demanding that justice to our grandchildren, that to our children has been denied. And I hope they will not be sent away discontented.

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The origin of Latin and Greek schools among the different nations of Europe is known to have been this: that until between three and four hundred years past there were no books in any other language; all the knowledge then contained in books, viz., the theology, the jurisprudence, the physic, the art-military, the politics, the mathematics and mechanics, the natural and moral philosophy, the logic and rhetoric, the chemistry, the pharmacy, the architecture, and every other branch of science, being in those languages, it was of course necessary to learn them, as the gates through which men must pass to get at that knowledge.

The books then existing were manuscript, and these consequently so dear that only the few wealthy inclined to learning could afford to purchase them. The common people were not even at the pains of learning to read, because, after taking that pains, they would have nothing to read that they could understand without learning the ancient’s languages, nor then without money to purchase the manuscripts. And so few were the learned readers sixty years after the invention of printing, that it appears by letters still extant between the printers in 1499, that they could not throughout Europe find purchasers for more than three hundred copies of any ancient authors. But, printing beginning now to make books cheap, the readers increased so much as to make it worth while to write and print books in the vulgar tongues. At first these were chiefly books of devotion and little histories. Gradually several branches of science began to appear in the Edition: current; Page: [103] common languages, and at this day the whole body of science, consisting not only of translations from all the valuable ancients, but of all the new modern discoveries, is to be met with in those languages; so that learning the ancient for the purpose of acquiring knowledge is become absolutely unnecessary.

But there is in mankind an unaccountable prejudice in favor of ancient customs and habitudes, which inclines to a continuance of them after the circumstances which formerly made them useful cease to exist. A multitude of instances might be given, but it may suffice to mention one. Hats were once thought a useful part of dress; they kept the head warm and screened it from the violent impression of the sun’s rays, and from the rain, snow, hail, etc. Though, by the way, this was not the more ancient opinion or practice; for among all the remains of antiquity, the bustos, statues, basso-relievos, medals, etc., which are infinite, there is no representation of a human figure with a cap or hat on, nor any covering for the head, unless it be the head of a soldier, who has a helmet; but that is evidently not a part of dress for health, but as a protection from the strokes of a weapon.

At what time hats were first introduced we know not, but in the last century they were universally worn throughout Europe. Gradually, however, as the wearing of wigs, and hair nicely dressed prevailed, the putting on of hats was disused by genteel people, lest the curious arrangements of the curls and powdering should be disordered, and umbrellas began to supply their place; yet still our considering Edition: current; Page: [104] the hat as a part of dress continues so far to prevail, that a man of fashion is not thought dressed without having one, or something like one, about him, which he carries under his arm. So that there are a multitude of the politer people in all the courts and capital cities of Europe, who have never, nor their fathers before, worn a hat otherwise than as a chapeau bras, though the utility of such a mode of wearing it is by no means apparent, and it is attended not only with some expense, but with a degree of constant trouble.

The still prevailing custom of having schools for teaching generally our children, in these days, the Latin and Greek languages, I consider therefore, in no other light than as the chapeau bras of modern literature.

Thus the time spent in that study might, it seems, be much better employed in the education for such a country as ours; and this was, indeed, the opinion of most of the original trustees.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
3 June, 1789
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin


My Dearest Friend:

I received your kind letter of March 4th, and wish I may be able to complete what you so earnestly desire, the Memoirs of my life. But of late I am so interrupted by extreme pain, which obliges me to have recourse to opium, that, between the effects of both, I have but little Edition: current; Page: [105] time in which I can write any thing. My grandson, however, is copying what is done, which will be sent to you for your opinion by the next vessel; and not merely for your opinion, but for your advice; for I find it a difficult task to speak decently and properly of one’s own conduct; and I feel the want of a judicious friend to encourage me in scratching out.

I have condoled sincerely with the Bishop of St. Asaph’s family. He was an excellent man. Losing our friends thus one by one, is the tax we pay for long living; and it is, indeed, a heavy one.

I have not seen the king of Prussia’s posthumous works; what you mention makes me desirous to have them. Please to mention it to your brother William, and that I request him to add them to the books I have desired him to buy for me.

Our new government is now in train, and seems to promise well. But events are in the hand of God. I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.


Charitable institutions, however originally well intended and well executed at first for many years, are subject to be in course of time corrupted, mismanaged, their funds misapplied or perverted to private purposes. Would it not be well to guard against Edition: current; Page: [106] these by prudent regulations respecting the choice of managers, and establishing the power of inspecting their conduct in some permanent body, as the monthly or quarterly meeting?

Would it not be more respectable for the institution, if the appearance of making a profit of the labor of orphans were avoided, and the dependence for funds to be wholly on charitable contributions? If this should be concluded, then it may be proper to open an account with each orphan on admission; the orphans to have credit for any subsistence brought in with them, and for the profit made of it and of their labor, and made debtors for their maintenance and education. And at their discharge on coming of age, to be paid the balance, if any, in their favor, or remain debtors for the balance, if against them, which they may be exhorted to pay, if ever able, but not to be compelled. Such as receive a balance may be exhorted to give back a part in charity to the institution that has taken such kind care of them, or at least to remember it favorably, if hereafter God should bless them with ability, either in benefaction while living, or a legacy on decease. The orphans, when discharged, to receive, besides decent clothing and some money, a certificate of their good behavior, if such it has been, as a recommendation; and the managers of the institution should still consider them as their children, so far as to counsel them in their affairs, encourage and promote them in their business, watch over and kindly admonish them when in danger of misconduct.

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There are, I understand, some apprehensions that your Ministers may procure a law to restrain the emigration of manufacturers: but I think that, weak and wicked as they are, and tyrannical as they are disposed to be, they will hardly venture upon an act that shall make a prison of England, to confine men for no other crime but that of being useful and industrious, and to discourage the learning of useful mechanic arts, by declaring that as soon as a man is master of his business he shall lose his liberty, and become a prisoner for life; while they suffer their idle and extravagant gentry to travel and reside abroad at their pleasure, spending the incomes of their estates, racked from the laborious, honest tenants, in foreign follies, and among French and Italian whores and fiddlers. Such a law would be too glaringly unjust to be borne with.

I wish you success in what you may resolve to undertake; and you will find me ever, your assured friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.



I am a manufacturer and was a petitioner for the act to encourage and protect the manufacturers of this state. I was very happy when Edition: current; Page: [108] the act was obtained, and I immediately added to the price of my manufactures as much as it would bear so as to be a little cheaper than the same article-imported and paying the duty. By this addition I hoped to grow richer. But as every other manufacturer whose wares are under the protection of that act, has done the same, I begin to doubt whether, considering the whole years’ expenses of my family, with all these separate additions which I pay to other manufacturers I am at all a gainer. And I confess I cannot but wish that except the protecting duty on my own manufacture, all duties of the kind were taken off and abolished. This, however, I must submit to the better judgment of our legislators. Yours, etc.




We may all remember the time when our mother country, as a mark of her parental tenderness, emptied her gaols into our habitations, “for the better peopling,” as she expressed it, “of the colonies.” It is certain that no due returns have yet been made for these valuable consignments. We are therefore much in her debt on that account; and as she is of late clamorous for the payment of all we owe her, and some of our debts are of a kind not so easily discharged, I am for doing however what is in Edition: current; Page: [109] our power. It will show our good-will as to the rest. The felons she planted among us have produced such an amazing increase, that we are now enabled to make ample remittance in the same commodity. And since the wheelbarrow law is not found effectually to reform them, and many of our vessels are idle through her restraints on our trade, why should we not employ those vessels in transporting the felons to Britain?

I was led into this thought by perusing the copy of a petition to Parliament, which fell lately by accident into my hands. It has no date, but I conjecture from some circumstances, that it must have been about the year 1767 or 1768. (It seems, if presented, it had no effect, since the act passed.) I imagine it may not be unacceptable to your readers, and therefore transcribe it for your paper, viz.:

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

To the Honorable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.

The Petition of B. F., Agent for the Province of Pennsylvania

Most humbly showeth:

That the transporting of felons from England to the plantations in America, is, and hath long been, a great grievance to the said plantations in general.

That the said felons, being landed in America, not only continue their evil practices to the annoyance of his Majesty’s good subjects there, but contribute greatly to corrupt the morals of the servants and poorer people among whom they are mixed.

That many of the said felons escape from the Edition: current; Page: [110] servitude to which they were destined into other colonies, where their condition is not known, and, wandering at large from one populous town to another, commit many burglaries, robberies, and murders, to the great terror of the people, and occasioning heavy charges for apprehending and securing such felons, and bringing them to justice.

That your petitioner humbly conceives the easing one part of the British dominions of their felons by burthening another part with the same felons cannot increase the common happiness of his Majesty’s subjects, and that therefore the trouble and expense of transporting them is upon the whole altogether useless.

That your petitioner, nevertheless, observes with extreme concern in the votes of Friday last, that leave is given to bring in a bill for extending to Scotland, the act made in the fourth year of the reign of King George the First, whereby the aforesaid grievances are, as he understands, to be greatly increased by allowing Scotland also to transport its felons to America.

Your petitioner therefore humbly prays, in behalf of Pennsylvania, and the other plantations in America, that the House would take the premises into consideration, and in their great wisdom and goodness repeal all acts, and clauses of acts, for transporting of felons; or, if this may not at present be done, that they would at least reject the proposed bill for extending the said acts to Scotland; or, if it be thought fit to allow of such extension, that then the said extension may be carried further, and the Edition: current; Page: [111] plantations be also, by an equitable clause in the same bill, permitted to transport their felons to Scotland.

And your petitioner, as in duty bound, shall pray, etc.”

The petition, I am informed, was not received by the House, and the act passed.

On second thoughts, I am of opinion, that besides employing our own vessels, as above proposed, every English ship arriving in our ports with goods for sale, should be obliged to give bond, before she is permitted to trade, engaging that she will carry back to Britain at least one felon for every fifty tons of her burthen. Thus we shall not only discharge sooner our debts, but furnish our old friends with the means of “better peopling,” and with more expedition, their promising new colony of Botany Bay. I am yours, etc.,

A. Z.


“John Oxly, pawnbroker of Bethnal Green, was indicted for assaulting Jonathan Boldsworth on the highway, putting him in fear, and taking from him one silver watch, value 5l. 5s. The prisoner pleaded, that, having sold the watch to the prosecutor, and being immediately after informed by a person who knew him, that he was not likely to pay Edition: current; Page: [112] for the same, he had only followed him and taken the watch back again. But, it appearing on the trial, that, presuming he had not been known when he committed the robbery, he had afterwards sued the prosecutor for the debt, on his note of hand, he was found guilty, death.”—Old Bailey Sessions Paper, 1747.

I chose the above extract from the proceedings of the Old Bailey in the trial of criminals, as a motto or text on which to amplify in my ensuing discourse. But on second thoughts, having given it forth, I shall, after the example of some other preachers, quit it for the present, and leave my readers, if I should happen to have any, the task of discovering what relation there may possibly be between my text and my sermon.

During some years past the British newspapers have been filled with reflections on the inhabitants of America for not paying their old debts to English merchants. And from these papers the same reflections have been translated into foreign prints and circulated throughout Europe; whereby the American character, respecting honor, probity, and justice in commercial transactions, is made to suffer in the opinion of strangers, which may be attended with pernicious consequences.

At length we are told that the British court has taken up the complaint, and seriously offered it as a reason for refusing to evacuate the frontier posts according to treaty. This gives a kind of authority to the charge, and makes it now more necessary to examine Edition: current; Page: [113] the matter thoroughly; to inquire impartially into the conduct of both nations; take blame to ourselves where we have merited it; and, where it may be fairly done, mitigate the severity of the censures that are so liberally bestowed upon us.

We may begin by observing, that before the war our mercantile character was good. In proof of this (and a stronger proof can hardly be desired), the votes of the House of Commons in 1774-5 have recorded a petition signed by the body of the merchants of London trading to North America, in which they expressly set forth, not only that the trade was profitable to the kingdom, but that the remittances and payments were as punctually and faithfully made, as in any other branch of commerce whatever. These gentlemen were certainly competent judges, and as to that point could have no interest in deceiving the government.

The making of these punctual remittances was, however, a difficulty. Britain, acting on the selfish, and perhaps mistaken, principle of receiving nothing from abroad that could be produced at home, would take no articles of our produce that interfered with any of her own; and what did not interfere she loaded with heavy duties. We had no mines of gold or silver. We were therefore obliged to run the world over, in search of something that would be received in England. We sent our provisions and lumber to the West Indies, where exchange was made for sugars, cotton, etc., to remit. We brought molasses from thence, distilled it into rum, with which we traded in Africa, and remitted the gold Edition: current; Page: [114] dust to England. We employed ourselves in the fisheries, and sent the fish we caught, together with quantities of wheat, flour, and rice, to Spain and Portugal, from whence the amount was remitted to England in cash or bills of exchange. Great quantities of our rice, too, went to Holland, Hamburg, etc., and the value of that was also sent to Britain. Add to this, that contenting ourselves with paper, all the hard money we could possibly pick up among the foreign West India Islands, was continually sent off to Britain, not a ship going thither from America without some chests of those precious metals.

Imagine this great machine of mutually advantageous commerce, going roundly on, in full train; our ports all busy, receiving and selling British manufactures, and equipping ships for the circuitous trade, that was finally to procure the necessary remittances; the seas covered with those ships, and with several hundred sail of our fishermen, all working for Britain; and then let us consider what effect the conduct of Britain, in 1774 and 1775 and the following years, must naturally have on the future ability of our merchants to make the payments in question.

We will not here enter into the motives of that conduct; they are well enough known, and not to her honor. The first step was shutting up the port of Boston by an act of Parliament; the next, to prohibit by another the New England fishery. An army and a fleet were sent to enforce these acts. Here was a stop put at once to all the mercantile operations of one of the greatest trading cities of Edition: current; Page: [115] America; the fishing vessels all laid up, and the usual remittances, by way of Spain, Portugal, and the Straits, rendered impossible. Yet the cry was now begun against us: These New England people do not pay their debts!

The ships of the fleet employed themselves in cruising separately all along the coast. The marine gentry are seldom so well contented with their pay, as not to like a little plunder. They stopped and seized, under slight pretences, the American vessels they met with, belonging to whatever colony. This checked the commerce of them all. Ships, loaded with cargoes destined either directly or indirectly to make remittance in England, were not spared. If the differences between the two countries had been then accommodated, these unauthorized plunderers would have been called to account, and many of their exploits must have been found piracy. But what cured all this, set their minds at ease, made short work, and gave full scope to their piratical disposition, was another act of Parliament, forbidding any inquisition into those past facts, declaring them all lawful, and all American property to be forfeited, whether on sea or land, and authorizing the king’s British subjects to take, seize, sink, burn, or destroy whatever they could find of it. The property suddenly, and by surprise taken from our merchants by the operation of this act, is incomputable. And yet the cry did not diminish: These Americans don’t pay their debts!

Had the several States of America, on the publication of this act, seized all British property in their Edition: current; Page: [116] power, whether consisting of lands in their country, ships in their harbors, or debts in the hands of their merchants, by way of retaliation, it is probable a great part of the world would have deemed such conduct justifiable. They, it seems, thought otherwise, and it was done only in one or two States, and that under particular circumstances of provocation. And not having thus abolished all demands, the cry subsists that the Americans should pay their debts!

General Gage, being with his army (before the declaration of open war) in peaceable possession of Boston, shut its gates, and placed guards all around to prevent its communication with the country. The inhabitants were on the point of starving. The general, though they were evidently at his mercy, fearing that, while they had any arms in their hands, frantic desperation might possibly do him some mischief, proposed to them a capitulation, in which he stipulated that if they would deliver up their arms they might leave the town with their family and goods. In faith of this agreement they delivered their arms. But when they began to pack up for their departure they were informed that, by the word goods, the general understood only household goods, that is, their beds, chairs, and tables, not merchant goods; those, he was informed, they were indebted for to the merchants of England, and he must secure them for the creditors. They were accordingly all seized, to an immense value, what had been paid for not excepted. It is to be supposed, though we have never heard of it, that this very honorable general, when he returned home made a just distribution of Edition: current; Page: [117] those goods, or their value, among the said creditors. But the cry nevertheless continued: These Boston people do not pay their debts!

The army, having thus ruined Boston, proceeded to different parts of the continent. They got possession of all the capital trading towns. The troops gorged themselves with plunder. They stopped all the trade of Philadelphia for near a year, of Rhode Island longer, of New York near eight years, of Charleston in South Carolina, and Savannah in Georgia, I forget how long. This continued interruption of their commerce ruined many merchants. The army also burnt to the ground the fine towns of Falmouth and Charlestown near Boston, New London, Fairfield, Norwalk, Esopus, Norfolk, the chief trading town in Virginia, besides innumerable tenements and private farm-houses. This wanton destruction of property operated doubly to the disabling of our merchants, who were importers from Britain, in making their payments, by the immoderate loss they sustained themselves, and also the loss suffered by their country debtors, who had bought of them the British goods, and who were now rendered unable to pay. The debts to Britain of course remained undischarged, and the clamor continued: These knavish Americans will not pay us!

Many of the British debts, particularly in Virginia and the Carolinas, arose from the sales made of negroes in those provinces by the British Guinea merchants. These, with all before in the country, were employed when the war came on, in raising tobacco and rice for remittance in payment of British Edition: current; Page: [118] debts. An order arrives from England, advised by one of their most celebrated moralists, Dr. Johnson, in his Taxation no Tyranny, to excite these slaves to rise, cut the throats of their purchasers, and resort to the British army, where they should be rewarded with freedom. This was done, and the planters were thus deprived of near thirty thousand of their working people. Yet the demand for those sold and unpaid still exists; and the cry continues against the Virginians and Carolinians, that they do not pay their debts!

Virginia suffered great loss in this kind of property by another ingenious and humane British invention. Having the small-pox in their army while in that country, they inoculated some of the negroes they took as prisoners belonging to a number of plantations, and then let them escape, or sent them, covered with the pock, to mix with and spread the distemper among the others of their color, as well as among the white country people; which occasioned a great mortality of both, and certainly did not contribute to the enabling debtors in making payment. The war too having put a stop to the exportation of tobacco, there was a great accumulation of several years’ produce in all the public inspecting warehouses and private stores of the planters. Arnold, Phillips, and Cornwallis, with British troops, then entered and overran the country, burnt all the inspecting and other stores of tobacco, to the amount of some hundred ship-loads; all of which might, on the return of peace, if it had not been thus wantonly destroyed, have been remitted to British creditors. Edition: current; Page: [119] But these d—d Virginians, why don’t they pay their debts?

Paper money was in those times our universal currency. But, it being the instrument with which we combated our enemies, they resolved to deprive us of its use by depreciating it; and the most effectual means they could contrive was to counterfeit it. The artists they employed performed so well, that immense quantities of these counterfeits, which issued from the British government in New York, were circulated among the inhabitants of all the States, before the fraud was detected. This operated considerably in depreciating the whole mass, first, by the vast additional quantity, and next by the uncertainty in distinguishing the true from the false; and the depreciation was a loss to all and the ruin of many. It is true our enemies gained a vast deal of our property by the operation; but it did not go into the hands of our particular creditors; so their demands still subsisted, and we were still abused for not paying our debts!

By the seventh article of the treaty of peace, it was solemnly stipulated, that the king’s troops, in evacuating their posts in the United States, should not carry away with them any negroes. In direct violation of this article, General Carleton, in evacuating New York, carried off all the negroes that were with his army, to the amount of several hundreds. It is not doubted that he must have had secret orders to justify him in this transaction; but the reason given out was, that, as they had quitted their masters and joined the King’s troops on the faith of proclamations Edition: current; Page: [120] promising them their liberty, the national honor forbade returning them into slavery. The national honor was, it seemed, pledged to both parts of a contradiction, and its wisdom, since it could not do it with both, chose to keep faith rather with its old black, than its new white, friends; a circumstance demonstrating clear as daylight, that, in making a present peace, they meditated a future war, and hoped, that, though the promised manumission of slaves had not been effectual in the last, in the next it might be more successful; and that, had the negroes been forsaken, no aid could be hereafter expected from those of the color in a future invasion. The treaty however with us was thus broken almost as soon as made, and this by the people who charge us with breaking it by not paying perhaps for some of the very negroes carried off in defiance of it. Why should England observe treaties, when these Americans do not pay their debts?

Unreasonable, however, as this clamor appears in general, I do not pretend, by exposing it, to justify those debtors who are still able to pay, and refuse it on pretence of injuries suffered by the war. Public injuries can never discharge private obligations. Contracts between merchant and merchant should be sacredly observed, where the ability remains, whatever may be the madness of ministers. It is therefore to be hoped the fourth article of the treaty of peace which stipulates, that no legal obstruction shall be given to the payment of debts contracted before the war, will be punctually carried into execution, and that every law in every State, which impedes it, may Edition: current; Page: [121] be immediately repealed. Those laws were indeed made with honest intentions, that the half-ruined debtor, not being too suddenly pressed by some, might have time to arrange and recover his affairs so as to do justice to all his creditors. But, since the intention in making those acts has been misapprehended, and the acts wilfully misconstrued into a design of defrauding them, and now made a matter of reproach to us, I think it will be right to repeal them all. Individual Americans may be ruined, but the country will save by the operation; since these unthinking, merciless creditors must be contented with all that is to be had, instead of all that may be due to them, and the accounts will be settled by insolvency. When all have paid that can pay, I think the remaining British creditors, who suffered by the inability of their ruined debtors, have some right to call upon their own government (which by its bad projects has ruined those debtors) for a compensation. A sum given by Parliament for this purpose would be more properly disposed, than in rewarding pretended loyalists, who fomented the war. And the heavier the sum the more tendency it might have to discourage such destructive projects hereafter.

Among the merchants of Britain, trading formerly to America, there are to my knowledge many considerate and generous men, who never joined in this clamor, and who, on the return of peace, though by the treaty entitled to an immediate suit for their debts, were kindly disposed to give their debtors reasonable time for restoring their circumstances, Edition: current; Page: [122] so as to be able to make payment conveniently. These deserve the most grateful acknowledgments. And indeed it was in their favor, and perhaps for their sakes in favor of all other British creditors, that the law of Pennsylvania, though since much exclaimed against, was made, restraining the recovery of old debts during a certain time. For this restraint was general, respecting domestic as well as British debts, it being thought unfair, in cases where there was not sufficient for all, that the inhabitants, taking advantage of their nearer situation, should swallow the whole, excluding foreign creditors from any share. And in cases where the favorable part of the foreign creditors were disposed to give time, with the views above-mentioned, if others less humane and considerate were allowed to bring immediate suits and ruin the debtor, those views would be defeated. When this law expired in September, 1784, a new one was made, continuing for some time longer the restraint with respect to domestic debts, but expressly taking it away where the debt was due from citizens of the State to any of the subjects of Great Britain1; which shows Edition: current; Page: [123] clearly the disposition of the Assembly, and that the fair intentions above ascribed to them in making the former act, are not merely the imagination of the writer.

Indeed, the clamor has been much augmented by numbers joining it, who really had no claim on our country. Every debtor in Britain, engaged in whatever trade, when he had no better excuse to give for delay of payment, accused the want of returns from America. And the indignation thus excited against us now appeared so general among the English that one would imagine their nation, which is so exact in expecting punctual payment from all the rest of the world, must be at home the model of justice, the very pattern of punctuality. Yet, if one were disposed to recriminate, it would not be difficult to find sufficient matter in several parts of their conduct. But this I forbear. The two separate nations are now at peace, and there can be no use in mutual provocations to fresh enmity. If I have shown clearly that the present inability of many American merchants to discharge their debts, contracted before the war, is not so much their fault as the fault of the crediting nation, who, by making an unjust war on them, obstructing their commerce, plundering and devastating their country, were the cause of that inability, I have answered the purpose of writing this paper. How far the refusal of the British court to execute the treaty in delivering up the frontier posts may, on account of that deficiency of payment, be justifiable, is cheerfully submitted to the world’s impartial judgment.

Edition: current; Page: [124]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
3 August, 1789
Jane Mecom
Mecom, Jane


Dear Sister:

I am glad to learn that you have at length got some of the letters I so long since wrote to you. I think your post-office is very badly managed. I expect your bill, and shall pay it when it appears. I would have you put the books into our cousin’s hands, who will dispose of them for you, if he can, or return them hither. I am very much pleased to hear that you have had no misunderstanding with his father. Indeed, if there had been any such I should have concluded it was your fault; for I think our family were always subject to being a little miffy.

By the way, is our relationship in Nantucket quite worn out? I have met with none from thence of late years who were disposed to be acquainted with me, except Captain Timothy Folger. They are wonderfully shy. But I admire their honest plainness of speech. About a year ago I invited two of them to dine with me. Their answer was, that they would, if they could not do better. I suppose they did better; for I never saw them afterwards, and so had no opportunity of showing my miff, if I had one.

I shall make the addition you desire to my superscriptions, desiring in return that you will make a subtraction from yours. The word Excellency does not belong to me, and Doctor will be sufficient to distinguish me from my grandson.1 This family joins in love to you and yours.

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [125]


It being in contemplation at this time to lay the foundation of a new building for the Philadelphia Library, the following correspondence took place between Mr. Rd. Wells and Dr. Franklin on the subject of a suitable inscription for the same.

Rd. Wells presents his best respects to Dr. Franklin, and takes the liberty of suggesting something of the substance of what he believes would give general satisfaction. As it is well known to the present inhabitants of this city how much they are indebted to Dr. Franklin for the first idea, as well as execution of the plan of a Public Library, Rd. Wells is very certain it would be the general wish to perpetuate a grateful remembrance of it.


Dr. Franklin presents his respects to Mr. Wells; he did not intend any mention of himself in the proposed inscription, and even wrote it at first without the words “cheerfully, at the instance of one of their members,” but, in compliance with Mr. Wells’ idea, has added them; though he still thinks it would be better without them. He cannot, however, but be pleased with every mark of the kind regard of his Edition: current; Page: [126] fellow-citizens towards him. It is his own being concerned in promoting such testimonies that he thinks improper; and as that drawn by Mr. Wells may be understood as proceeding from him, he wishes it may be so considered.

Be it Remembered

in Honour of the Philadelphian Youth

[then chiefly artificers]

that, in M,DCC,XXXII,

they cheerfully, at the instance of one of their


instituted the Philadelphia Library,

which, tho’ small at first,

is become highly valuable

and extensively useful;

and which the Walls of this Edifice

are now destined to Contain and Preserve.

The First Stone of whose Foundation

was here placed

the 31st Day of August,



  • Our noble founder spread, with liberal hand,
  • Rights, privileges, favors o’er his land;
  • Edition: current; Page: [127]
  • The father’s virtues bury’d on his grave,
  • His niggard son reclaims whate’er he gave,
  • Yet they may rise again.
  • The grandsire in the grandson oft is seen,
  • Tho’ no resembling features come between;
  • And the lost spirit of the gallant bird,
  • By generous blood commixt, is to his race restor’d.
  • So that fam’d Spanish river,1 from his source
  • Rolls, plenty-spreading where he bends his course;
  • Then lost, beneath the earth runs many a mile,
  • While the parched surface mocks the farmer’s toil;
  • At length, resurging, bursts th’ incumbent clay
  • Strong with augmented wave, revisits day,
  • And flows beneficent, quite to the sea;
  • Glad Nature smiles again, and all is seen
  • Fresh, blooming, fruitful, flourishing and green.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 September, 1789
M. Le Veillard
Le Veillard, M.


Dear Friend:

I have had notice of sundry books sent out by you, but none of them are come to hand except the Dictionnaire d’Agriculture, by l’Abbé Rogier. My grandson also complains of not receiving a package or case sent by you to him, he knows not by what conveyance, nor where to enquire for it.

It is long since I have had the pleasure of hearing Edition: current; Page: [128] from you, the last letter I have received being dated the 21st of February, but when I have no new letter from you, I console myself by reading over some of the old ones, as I have lately done those of the 1st April, ’88, and the 10th of Oct. and 27th Nov., ’88. Every time I read what you write, I receive fresh pleasure. I have already answered those last-mentioned letters, and now have before me that of the 21st of February only. I am sorry my friend Morris failed in the attention he ought to have shown you, but I hope you will excuse it when you consider that an American transported from the tranquil villages of his country and set down in the tourbillon of such a great city as Paris must necessarily be for some days half out of his senses.

I hope you have perfectly recovered of your fall at Madam Helvetius’, and that you now enjoy perfect health; as to mine, I can give you no good account. I have a long time been afflicted with almost constant and grievous pain, to combat which I have been obliged to have recourse to opium, which indeed has afforded me some ease from time to time, but then it has taken away my appetite and so impeded my digestion that I am become totally emaciated, and little remains of me but a skeleton covered with a skin. In this situation I have not been able to continue my Memoirs, and now I suppose I shall never finish them. Benjamin has made a copy of what is done, for you, which shall be sent by the first safe opportunity. I make no remarks to you concerning your public affairs, being too remote to form just opinions concerning them; indeed, I wonder Edition: current; Page: [129] that you, who are at the same distance from us, make so very few mistakes in your judgment of our affairs. At present we think them in a good way, the Congress are employed in amending some of their faults supposed to be in our Constitution, and it is expected that in a few weeks the machine will be in orderly motion. The piece of M. Target, which you mention as having sent me, is not come to hand. I am sorry to hear of the scarcity which has afflicted your country. We have had here a most plentiful harvest of all the productions of the earth without exception, and I suppose some supplies will be sent you from hence, though the term during which the importation was admitted was too short, considering the distance.

My family join in every affectionate sentiment respecting you and yours, with your sincere friend,

B. Franklin.


Power of this Court

It may receive and promulgate accusations of all kinds against all persons and characters among the citizens of the State, and even against all inferior courts, and may judge, sentence, and condemn to Edition: current; Page: [130] infamy, not only private individuals, but public bodies, etc., with or without inquiry or hearing at the court’s discretion.

In whose Favor and for whose Emolument this Court is Established

In favor of about one citizen in five hundred, who, by education or practice in scribbling, has acquired a tolerable style as to grammar and construction, so as to bear printing, or who is possessed of a press and a few types. This five hundredth part of the citizens have the privilege of accusing and abusing the other four hundred and ninety-nine parts at their pleasure; or they may hire out their pens and press to others for that purpose.

Practice of the Court

It is not governed by any of the rules of common courts of law. The accused is allowed no grand jury to judge of the truth of the accusation before it is publicly made, nor is the name of the accuser made known to him, nor has he an opportunity of confronting the witnesses against him; for they are kept in the dark, as in the Spanish court of Inquisition. Nor is there any petty jury of his peers, sworn to try the truth of the charges. The proceedings are also sometimes so rapid that an honest, good citizen may find himself suddenly and unexpectedly accused, and in the same morning judged and condemned, and sentence pronounced against him, that he is a rogue and a villain. Yet, if an officer of this court receives Edition: current; Page: [131] the slightest check for misconduct in this his office, he claims immediately the rights of a free citizen by the constitution, and demands to know his accuser, to confront the witnesses, and to have a fair trial by a jury of his peers.

The Foundation of its Authority

It is said to be founded on an article in the State constitution, which establishes the liberty of the press, a liberty which every Pennsylvanian will fight and die for, though few of us, I believe, have distinct ideas of its nature and extent. It seems, indeed, somewhat like the liberty of the press that felons have, by the common law of England, before conviction, that is, to be pressed to death or hanged. If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please; but if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another, I for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law, and shall cheerfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself.

By whom this Court is Commissioned or Constituted

It is not by any commission from the Supreme Executive Council, who might previously judge of the abilities, integrity, knowledge, etc., of the persons Edition: current; Page: [132] to be appointed to this great trust, of deciding upon the characters and good fame of the citizens; for this court is above that council, and may accuse, judge, and condemn it at pleasure. Nor is it hereditary, as in the court of dernier resort, in the peerage of England. But any man who can procure pen, ink, and paper, with a press, a few types, and a huge pair of blacking balls, may commissionate himself; and his court is immediately established in the plenary possession and exercise of its rights. For if you make the least complaint of the judge’s conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face whenever he meets you; and, besides tearing your private character to flitters, marks you out for the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press.

Of the natural Support of these Courts

Their support is founded in the depravity of such minds, as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education:

  • “There is a lust in man no charm can tame,
  • Of loudly publishing his neighbor’s shame.”


  • “On eagle’s wings immortal scandals fly,
  • While virtuous actions are but born and die.”
  • Drydbn.

Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbor, will feel a pleasure in the reverse. And of those who, despairing to rise into distinction Edition: current; Page: [133] by their virtues, are happy if others can be depressed to a level with themselves, there are a number sufficient in every great town to maintain one of these courts by their subscriptions. A shrewd observer once said, that, in walking the streets in a slippery morning, one might see where the good-natured people lived by the ashes thrown on the ice before their doors; probably he would have formed a different conjecture of the temper of those whom he might find engaged in such a subscription.

Of the Checks proper to be Established against the Abuse of Power in these Courts

Hitherto there are none. But since so much has been written and published on the Federal Constitution, and the necessity of checks in all other parts of good government has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself so far enlightened as to suspect some check may be proper in this part also; but I have been at a loss to imagine any that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred liberty of the press. At length, however, I think I have found one that, instead of diminishing general liberty, shall augment it; which is, by restoring to the people a species of liberty, of which they have been deprived by our laws, I mean the liberty of the cudgel. In the rude state of society prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill language, the affronted person would return it by a box on the ear, and, if repeated, by a good drubbing; and this without offending against any law. But now the right Edition: current; Page: [134] of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace; while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force, the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press.

My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigor; but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it par passu. Thus, my fellow-citizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation, dearer to you perhaps than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may in like manner way-lay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing. Thus far goes my project as to private resentment and retribution. But if the public should ever happen to be affronted, as it ought to be, with the conduct of such writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities; but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket.

If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel, and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits; and, at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assaults, they would likewise provide for the security of his reputation.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
George Washington
Washington, George


The business relative to free blacks shall be transacted by a committee of twenty-four persons, annually elected by ballot, at the meeting of this Society,1 in the month called April; and, in order to perform the different services with expedition, regularity, and energy, this committee shall resolve itself into the following sub-committees, viz.:

I. A Committee of Inspection, who shall superintend the morals, general conduct, and ordinary situation of the free negroes, and afford them advice and instruction, protection from wrongs, and other friendly offices.

II. A Committee of Guardians, who shall place out children and young people with suitable persons, that they may (during a moderate term of apprenticeship or servitude) learn some trade or other business of subsistence. The committee may effect this partly by a persuasive influence on parents and the persons concerned, and partly by coöperating with the laws, which are, or may be, enacted for this and similar purposes. In forming contracts on these occasions, the committee shall secure to the Society, as far as may be practicable, the right of guardianship over the persons so bound.

III. A Committee of Education, who shall superintend the school instruction of the children and youth of the free blacks. They may either influence Edition: current; Page: [136] them to attend regularly the schools already established in this city, or form others with this view; they shall, in either case, provide that the pupils may receive such learning as is necessary for their future situation in life, and especially a deep impression of the most important and generally acknowledged moral and religious principles. They shall also procure and preserve a regular record of the marriages, births, and manumissions of all free blacks.

IV. A Committee of Employ, who shall endeavor to procure constant employment for those free negroes who are able to work; as the want of this would occasion poverty, idleness, and many vicious habits. This committee will, by sedulous inquiry, be enabled to find common labor for a great number; they will also provide, that such as indicate proper talents may learn various trades, which may be done by prevailing upon them to bind themselves for such a term of years as shall compensate their masters for the expense and trouble of instruction and maintenance. The committee may attempt the institution of some useful and simple manufactures, which require but little skill, and also may assist, in commencing business, such as appear to be qualified for it.

Whenever the committee of inspection shall find persons of any particular description requiring attention, they shall immediately direct them to the committee of whose care they are the proper objects.

In matters of a mixed nature, the committees shall confer, and, if necessary, act in concert. Affairs Edition: current; Page: [137] of great importance shall be referred to the whole committee.

The expense incurred by the prosecution of this plan shall be defrayed by a fund, to be formed by donations or subscriptions for these particular purposes, and to be kept separate from the other funds of this Society.

The committee shall make a report of their proceedings, and of the state of their stock, to the Society, at their quarterly meetings, in the months called April and October.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 September, 1789
George Washington
Washington, George


Dear Sir:

My malady renders my sitting up to write rather painful to me; but I cannot let my son-in-law, Mr. Bache, part for New York without congratulating you by him on the recovery of your health, so precious to us all, and on the growing strength of our new government under your administration. For my own personal ease I should have died two years ago; but, though those years have been spent in excruciating pain, I am pleased that I have lived them, since they have brought me to see our present situation. I am now finishing my eighty-fourth year, and probably with it my career in this life; but, in whatever state of existence I am placed hereafter, if I retain any memory of what has Edition: current; Page: [138] passed here, I shall with it retain the esteem, respect, and affection with which I have long been, my dear friend, yours most sincerely,

B. Franklin.



Though I have not the vanity to suppose that I have any influence with your Excellency, yet I cannot at the request of Mr. Le Roy de Chaumont, Jr., refuse him this testimony of my regard. He has resided in this country near four years, during which time he has constantly conducted himself with so much probity and discretion as to gain the esteem of all ranks, and by his living in the house of M. de Marbois, Consul of France at this port, who has occasionally employed him in the duties of that office, he has thereby acquired a knowledge of that business, sufficient to enable him to execute it. Should it please your Excellency to appoint him in the room of M. de Marbois, who, as I understand, is likely to be otherwise provided for, by Mr. de Chaumont’s knowledge of the business, the language of the country, and the high esteem in which he is held here, I am confident that his appointment would be both useful to his sovereign and agreeable to the government and citizens of this State. I hope your Excellency will excuse the liberty I have taken, and believe me, with great respect, sir, your Excellency, etc.

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George Washington
Washington, George
23 September, 1789
New York
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


Dear Sir:

The affectionate congratulations on the recovery of my health, and the warm expressions of personal friendship, which were contained in your letter of the 16th instant, claim my gratitude. And the consideration that it is written when you were afflicted with a painful malady greatly increases my obligation for it.

Would to God, my dear sir, that I could congratulate you upon the removal of that excruciating pain under which you labor, and that your existence might close with as much ease to yourself as its continuance has been beneficial to our country and useful to mankind; or, if the united wishes of a free people, joined with the earnest prayers of every friend to science and humanity, could relieve the body from pain or infirmities, that you could claim an exemption on this score. But this cannot be, and you have within yourself the only resource to which we can confidently apply for relief, a philosophic mind.

If to be venerated for benevolence, if to be admired for talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing consolation to know that you have not lived in vain. And I flatter myself that it will not be ranked among the least grateful occurrences of your life to be assured that, so long as I retain my memory, you will Edition: current; Page: [140] be recollected with respect, veneration, and affection by your sincere friend,

George Washington.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 October, 1789
Jane Mecom
Mecom, Jane


Dear Sister:

I received your kind letter of September the 10th, by Cousin John Williams. I have also received and paid your bill, and am pleased that you added to it on account of your wood. As to my health, it continues as usual,—sometimes better, sometimes worse,—and with respect to the happiness hereafter which you mention, I have no doubts about it, confiding as I do in the goodness of that Being who, through so long a life, has conducted me with so many instances of it. This family joins in best wishes of happiness to you and yours with your affectionate brother,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
20 October, 1789
New York


In your valuable magazine for July, 1788, I find a review of Dr. Kippis’ Life of Cook, containing the following remark, viz.: “The protection afforded to this discoverer by the court of France redounds Edition: current; Page: [141] highly to Mr. Turgot’s honor, while the narrow-souled Americans did all they could to obstruct him.” I think the writer of this remark will find it difficult to produce a single instance, well authenticated, of any such endeavor used by the Americans; but I happen to have it in my power to produce a strong contrary instance, which I send you enclosed, and doubt not of your doing so much justice to the Americans as to make this refutation of the calumny equally public with the calumny itself, by inserting it also in your magazine. It is a true copy of the circular-letter sent by Dr. Franklin to all the commanders of the American cruisers, then in the European seas; which was so well known to and so well taken by the government in England that when Cook’s voyage was printed the Admiralty sent to that gentleman an elegant copy of it, with a very polite letter from Lord Howe, expressing that the present was made with his Majesty’s approbation. The Royal Society also on the same occasion presented him with one of the gold medals struck by them of that illustrious navigator, accompanied by a letter from Sir Joseph Banks, their President, expressing likewise that it was sent with the approbation of his Majesty. These I have seen; and I wonder much that the writer, who gives so particular an account of the distribution of those gold medals, should be unacquainted with this circumstance. I am etc.,

An American.
Edition: current; Page: [142]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 October, 1789
M. de Chaumont
de Chaumont, M.


Dear Friend:

I was too much indisposed yesterday to write in answer to your affecting letter, but I have considered the case very attentively and will now give you the result. In the first place, what you demand of me is impracticable. The sum I have to draw upon in France being but little more than half of what you require; and upon that small sum, though my late extraordinary expenses in building have much straitened me in furnishing my ordinary expenses, I dare not draw, under the present circumstances of affairs in that country, lest through the lowness of the funds I should lose perhaps half my property in selling out to pay the bills, or in case of public bankruptcy, which I find is apprehended by many as a possible case, my bills should be returned under a protest which, besides damages, would extremely embarrass me. By the last accounts I received I suffered a loss of 15 per cent. in the sale of my funds to produce money for the payment of a bill for 10,000 livres, which I sold towards the end of the last year, and we now learn from the public prints that the new proposed loan of 30,000,000 does not fill, and that Mr. Necker is discouraged and in bad health, which, together, has occasioned the funds to fall much lower. In the next place, it seems to me that in your present circumstances (excuse my freedom in presuming to give you my advice), it would be more advisable for Edition: current; Page: [143] you to remain here a few months longer, in order to finish your affair with the Congress. They meet again in the beginning of January, and there is no doubt but the officers through whose hands such affairs must pass, will be present, and, your accounts having been already examined and passed, I am of your opinion, that they will probably be some of the first paid. Money, I think, will not be wanting, as it is thought that the immense importation of goods lately made into this port must produce at least one fourth of the import expected from the whole of the United States. If you should be absent at the next meeting of Congress it may occasion a still further delay of payment for want of somebody present to solicit the business, which would be a further prejudice to the creditors. If you should conclude to stay I would write a letter to your father, which he might show to them, expressing that your stay was by my counsel, with the reason, and that as soon as the Congress should meet I would support your application for immediate payment with my strongest interest. This delay of two or three months, I should think, cannot make much difference in your father’s affairs, the present disorders of that country being considered; or if you apprehend, as you have mentioned, that the creditors may suspect your having an intention of assuming to your own use the property of your father, you may, to prevent such suspicions, offer the creditors to deliver up to them or to any person they shall please to appoint, all the papers ascertaining your [imperfect].

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 November, 1789
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert


Dear Sir:

I should be glad if it might suit you to spare half an hour some day this week, to settle between us the loss that accrued on the sale of my funds in France, for the payment of the bills I furnished you with. The sooner the better, as I find myself growing weaker daily, and less fit for business.

I am your affectionate friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I enclose the two last letters received from Messrs. Grand & Co., together with their account, from which you may, at your leisure, make the computation. By the letters you will perceive the care that was taken to choose the most favorable time for the sale of those funds. As I reckon it, there is 10¼ per cent. loss on 16,000 livres of the 23,000 sold on the 23d of March, and 8 per cent. loss on the 80,000 sold April the 8th.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 November, 1789
James Logan
Logan, James


Dear Sir:

Apprehending there is some danger of my slipping through your fingers if the business we are engaged in is longer delayed, I feel uneasy till the vacant Trusteeships are filled up, and the deed recorded. I wish therefore it may be agreeable Edition: current; Page: [145] to you that we have a meeting soon for those purposes.

With great esteem and respect, I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 November, 1789
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin


My Dearest Friend:

I received your kind letter of August 8th. I thank you much for your intimations of the virtues of hemlock, but I have tried so many things with so little effect that I am quite discouraged, and have no longer any faith in remedies for the stone. The palliating system is what I am now fixed in. Opium gives me ease when I am attacked by pain, and by the use of it I still make life at least tolerable. Not being able, however, to bear sitting to write, I now make use of the hand of one of my grandsons, dictating to him from my bed.

I wish, indeed, I had tried this method sooner; for so, I think, I might by this time have finished my Memoirs, in which I have made no progress for these six months past. I have now taken the resolution to endeavor completing them in this way of dictating to an amanuensis. What is already done I now send you, with an earnest request that you and my good friend Dr. Price would be so good as to take the trouble of reading it, critically examining it, and giving me your candid opinion whether I had best Edition: current; Page: [146] publish or suppress it; and if the first, then what parts had better be expunged or altered. I shall rely upon your opinions, for I am now grown so old and feeble in mind as well as body, that I cannot place any confidence in my own judgment. In the meantime I desire and expect that you will not suffer any copy of it, or of any part of it, to be taken for any purpose whatever.

You present me with a pleasing idea of the happiness I might have enjoyed in a certain great house, and in the conversation of its excellent owner, and his well chosen guests, if I could have spent some more time in England. That is now become impossible. My best wishes, however, attend him and his amiable son, in whose promising virtues and abilities I am persuaded the father will find much satisfaction.

The revolution in France is truly surprising. I sincerely wish it may end in establishing a good constitution for that country. The mischiefs and troubles it suffers in the operation, however, give me great concern.

You request advice from me respecting your conduct and writings, and desire me to tell you their faults. As to your conduct I know nothing that looks like a fault, except your declining to act in any public station, although you are certainly qualified to do much public good in many you must have had it in your power to occupy. In respect to your writings, your language seems to me to be good and pure, and your sentiments generally just; but your style or composition wants perspicuity, and this Edition: current; Page: [147] I think owing principally to a neglect of method. What I would therefore recommend to you is that, before you sit down to write on any subject, you would spend some days in considering it, putting down at the same time, in short hints, every thought which occurs to you as proper to make a part of your intended piece. When you have thus obtained a collection of thoughts, examine them carefully with this view, to find which of them is properest to be presented first to the mind of the reader, that he, being possessed of that, may the more easily understand it, and be better disposed to receive what you intend for the second; and thus I would have you put a figure before each thought, to mark its future place in your composition. For so, every preceding proposition preparing the mind for that which is to follow, and the reader often anticipating it, he proceeds with ease, and pleasure, and approbation, as seeming continually to meet with his own thought. In this mode you have a better chance for a perfect production; because, the mind attending first to the sentiments alone, next to the method alone, each part is likely to be better performed, and I think too in less time.

You see I give my counsel rather bluntly, without attempting to soften my manner of finding fault by any apology, which would give some people great offence; but in the present situation of affairs between us, when I am soliciting the advantage of your criticisms on a work of mine, it is perhaps my interest that you should be a little offended, in order to produce a greater degree of wholesome severity. Edition: current; Page: [148] I think with you, that, if my Memoirs are to be published, an edition of them should be printed in England for that country, as well as here for this, and I shall gladly leave it to your friendly management.

We have now had one session of Congress under our new Constitution, which was conducted with, I think, a greater degree of temper, prudence, and unanimity than could well have been expected, and our future prospects seem very favorable. The harvests of the last summer have been uncommonly plentiful and good, yet the produce bears a high price, from the great foreign demand. At the same time immense quantities of foreign goods are crowded upon us, so as to overstock the market, and supply us with what we want at very low prices. A spirit of industry and frugality is also very generally prevailing, which, being the most promising sign of future national felicity, gives me infinite satisfaction.

Remember me most respectfully and affectionately to your good mother, sisters, and brother, and also to my dear Dr. Price; and believe me, my dearest friend, yours most sincerely,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I have not received the Philosophical Transactions for the two or three last years. They are usually laid by for me at the Society’s house, with my name upon them, and remain there till called for. I shall be much obliged to you if you can conveniently take them up and send them to me.

Your mention of plagiarism puts me in mind of a charge of the same kind which I lately saw in the British Repository, concerning the “Chapter of Edition: current; Page: [149] Abraham and the Stranger.” Perhaps this is the attack your letter hints at, in which you defended me. The truth is, as I think you observe, that I never published that Chapter, and never claimed more credit from it than what related to the style, and the addition of the concluding threatening and promise. The publishing of it by Lord Kames, without my consent, deprived me of a good deal of amusement, which I used to take in reading it by heart out of my Bible, and obtaining the remarks of the Scripturians upon it, which were sometimes very diverting; not but that it is in itself, on account of the importance of its moral, well worth being made known to all mankind. When I wrote that in the form you now have it, I wrote also another,1 the hint of which was also taken from an ancient Jewish tradition; but, not having the same success with it as the other, I laid it aside, and have not seen it for thirty years past, till within these few days a lady of my acquaintance furnished me with a copy, which she had preserved. I think, however, it is not a bad one, and send it to you enclosed.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 November, 1789
John Wright
Wright, John


Dear Friend:

I received your kind letter of July the 31st, which gave me great pleasure, as it informed me of the welfare both of yourself and your good lady, to whom please to present my respects. Edition: current; Page: [150] I thank you for the epistle of your yearly meeting, and for the card, a specimen of printing, which was enclosed.

We have now had one session of Congress, which was conducted under our new Constitution, and with as much general satisfaction as could reasonably be expected. I wish the struggle in France may end as happily for that nation. We are now in the full enjoyment of our new government for eleven of the States, and it is generally thought that North Carolina is about to join it. Rhode Island will probably take longer time for consideration.

We have had a most plentiful year for the fruits of the earth, and our people seem to be recovering fast from the extravagance and idle habits which the war had introduced; and to engage seriously in the country habits of temperance, frugality, and industry, which give the most pleasing prospect of future national felicity. Your merchants, however, are, I think, imprudent in crowding in upon us such quantities of goods for sale here, which are not written for by ours, and are beyond the faculties of this country to consume in any reasonable time. This surplus of goods is, therefore, to raise present money, sent to the vendues, or auction-houses, of which we have six or seven in and near this city, where they are sold frequently for less than prime cost, to the great loss of the indiscreet adventurers. Our newspapers are doubtless to be seen at your coffee-houses near the Exchange. In their advertisements you may observe the constancy and quantity of this kind of sales; as well as the quantity of goods imported by Edition: current; Page: [151] our regular traders. I see in your English newspapers frequent mention of our being out of credit with you; to us it appears that we have abundantly too much, and that your exporting merchants are rather out of their senses.

I wish success to your endeavors for obtaining an abolition of the slave trade. The epistle from your yearly meeting, for the year 1758, was not the first sowing of the good seed you mention; for I find by an old pamphlet in my possession, that George Keith, near a hundred years since, wrote a paper against the practice, said to be “given forth by the appointment of the meeting held by him at Philip James’ house, in the city of Philadelphia, about the year 1693”; wherein a strict charge was given to Friends “that they should set their negroes at liberty, after some reasonable time of service,” etc., etc. And about the year 1728 or 1729, I myself printed a book for Ralph Sandyford, another of your Friends in this city, against keeping negroes in slavery; two editions of which he distributed gratis. And about the year 1736, I printed another book on the same subject for Benjamin Lay, who also professed being one of your Friends, and he distributed the books chiefly among them. By these instances it appears that the seed was indeed sown in the good ground of your profession, though much earlier than the time you mention, and its springing up to effect at last, though so late, is some confirmation of Lord Bacon’s observation, that a good notion never dies; and it may encourage us in making such, though hopeless of their taking immediate effect.

Edition: current; Page: [152]

I doubt whether I shall be able to finish my Memoirs, and, if I finish them, whether they will be proper for publication. You seem to have too high an opinion of them, and to expect too much from them.

I think you are right in preferring a mixed form of government for your country, under its present circumstances; and if it were possible for you to reduce the enormous salaries and emoluments of great officers, which are, at bottom, the source of all your violent factions, that form might be conducted more quietly and happily; but I am afraid that none of your factions, when they get uppermost, will ever have virtue enough to reduce those salaries and emoluments, but will rather choose to enjoy them.

I enclose a bill for twenty-five pounds, for which, when received, please to credit my account, and out of it pay Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, of Jeffries Square, and Mr. William Vaughan, his brother, of Mincing Lane, such accounts against me as they shall present to you for that purpose. I am, my dear friend, yours very affectionately,

B. Franklin.
4 November, 1789
St. Petersburgh
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


Dear Sir:

Having always supposed, and even cherished the idea, that you were a member of the Edition: current; Page: [153] Imperial Academy of Sciences, which is at St. Petersburgh under my direction, I was greatly surprised when, reviewing the list of its members some days ago, I did not find your name in the number. I hastened therefore to acquire this honor for the Academy, and you were received among its members with an unanimous applause and joy. I beg you, sir, to accept of this title, and to believe that I look upon it as an honor acquired by our Academy.

I shall order the patent to be despatched to you as soon as possible. In the meantime be assured that it is with the greatest pleasure that I profit of the present occasion to give you token of my regard and veneration for your eminent character, and I shall always recollect with pride the advantage I had to be personally noticed by you. With a sincere consideration I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

Princess of Daschkoff.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 November, 1789
Samuel Moore
Moore, Samuel


Dear Sir:

I received your favor of July 25th, but had no opportunity of showing any civility to the bearer, whom you mention as coming under the auspices of William Franklin, as he did not show himself to me.

I am obliged by your kind inquiries after my health, which is still tolerably good, the stone Edition: current; Page: [154] excepted; my constitution being such as, if it were not for that malady, might have held out yet some years longer.

I hope the fire of liberty, which you mention as spreading itself over Europe, will act upon the inestimable rights of man, as common fire does upon gold; purify without destroying them; so that a lover of liberty may find a country in any part of Christendom.

I see with pleasure in the public prints, that our Society1 is still kept up and flourishes. I was an early member; for, when Mr. Shipley sent me a list of the subscribers, they were but seventy; and, though I had no expectation then of going to England and acting with them, I sent a contribution of twenty guineas; in consideration of which the Society were afterwards pleased to consider me a member.

I wish to the exertions of your manufacturers, who are generally excellent, and to the spirit and enterprise of your merchants, who are famed for fair and honorable dealing, all the success they merit in promoting the prosperity of your country.

I am glad our friend Small enjoys so much health, and his faculties so perfectly, as I perceive he does by his letters. I know not whether he is yet returned from his visit to Scotland, and therefore give you the trouble of the enclosed. My best wishes attend you, being ever, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 November, 1789
Alexander Small
Small, Alexander


Dear Sir:

I received your several favors of April 23d, May 9th, and June 2d, together with the manuscript concerning Ventilation which will be inserted in our next volume.

I have long been of your opinion, that your legal provision for the poor is a very great evil, operating as it does to the encouragement of idleness. We have followed your example, and begin now to see our error, and, I hope, shall reform it. I find by your letters, that every man has patience enough to bear calmly and coolly the injuries done to other people. You have perfectly forgiven the royalists, and you seem to wonder that we should still retain any resentment against them for their joining with the savages to burn our houses, and murder and scalp our friends, our wives, and our children. I forget who it was that said: “We are commanded to forgive our enemies, but we are nowhere commanded to forgive our friends.” Certain it is, however, that atrocious injuries done to us by our friends are naturally more deeply resented than the same done by enemies. They have left us, to live under the government of their king in England and Nova Scotia. We do not miss them, nor wish their return; nor do we envy them their present happiness.

The accounts you give me of the great prospects you have respecting your manufactures, agriculture, and commerce, are pleasing to me; for I still love Edition: current; Page: [156] England and wish it prosperity. You tell me that the government of France is abundantly punished for its treachery to England in assisting us. You might also have remarked that the government of England had been punished for its treachery to France in assisting the Corsicans, and in seizing her ships in time of full peace, without any previous declaration of war. I believe governments are pretty near equal in honesty, and cannot with much propriety praise their own in preference to that of their neighbors.

You do me too much honor in naming me with Timoleon. I am like him only in retiring from my public labors; which indeed my stone and other infirmities of age have made indispensably necessary.

I hope you are by this time returned from your visit to your native country, and that the journey has given a firmer consistence to your health. Mr. Penn’s property in this country, which you inquire about, is still immensely great; and I understand he has received ample compensation in England for the part he lost.

I think you have made a happy choice of rural amusements: the protection of the bees, and the destruction of the hop insect. I wish success to your experiments, and shall be glad to hear the result. Your “Theory of Insects” appears the most ingenious and plausible of any that have hitherto been proposed by philosophers.

Our new Constitiution is now established with eleven States, and the accession of a twelfth is soon expected. We have had one session of Congress Edition: current; Page: [157] under it, which was conducted with remarkable prudence and a good deal of unanimity. Our late harvests were plentiful, and our produce still fetches a good price, through an abundant foreign demand and the flourishing state of our commerce. I am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 November, 1789


It is with peculiar satisfaction we assure the friends of humanity, that, in prosecuting the design of our association, our endeavors have proved successful far beyond our most sanguine expectations.

Encouraged by this success, and by the daily progress of that luminous and benign spirit of liberty, which is diffusing itself throughout the world, and humbly hoping for the continuance of the divine blessing on our labors, we have ventured to make an important addition to our original plan, and do therefore earnestly solicit the support and assistance of all who can feel the tender emotions of sympathy and compassion, or relish the exalted pleasure of beneficence.

Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed Edition: current; Page: [158] with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.

The unhappy man, who has long been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species. The galling chains, that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart. Accustomed to move like a mere machine, by the will of a master, reflection is suspended; he has not the power of choice; and reason and conscience have but little influence over his conduct, because he is chiefly governed by the passion of fear. He is poor and friendless; perhaps worn out by extreme labor, age, and disease.

Under such circumstances, freedom may often prove a misfortune to himself, and prejudicial to society.

Attention to emancipated black people, it is therefore to be hoped, will become a branch of our national policy; but, as far as we contribute to promote this emancipation, so far that attention is evidently a serious duty incumbent on us, and which we mean to discharge to the best of our judgment and abilities.

To instruct, to advise, to qualify those who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty, to promote in them habits of industry, to furnish them with employments suited to their age, sex, talents, and other circumstances, and to procure their children an education calculated for their future situation in life; these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted, and which we conceive will essentially promote the Edition: current; Page: [159] public good, and the happiness of these our hitherto too much neglected fellow-creatures.

A plan so extensive cannot be carried into execution without considerable pecuniary resources, beyond the present ordinary funds of the Society. We hope much from the generosity of enlightened and benevolent freemen, and will gratefully receive any donations or subscriptions for this purpose, which may be made to our treasurer, James Starr, or to James Pemberton, chairman of our committee of correspondence.

Signed, by order of the Society,
B. Franklin, President.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 November, 1789
M. Le Veillard
Le Veillard, M.


Dear Friend:

This must be but a short letter, for I have mislaid your last and must postpone answering them till I have found them; but to make you some amends I send you what is done of the Memoirs, under this express condition however, that you do not suffer any copy to be taken of them, or of any part of them, on any account whatever, and that you will, with our excellent friend the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, read them over carefully, examine them critically, and send me your friendly, candid opinion of the parts you would advise me to correct or expunge; this in case you should be of opinion Edition: current; Page: [160] that they are generally proper to be published; and if you judge otherwise, that you would send me that opinion as soon as possible, and prevent my taking further trouble in endeavoring to finish them. I send you also the paper you desire respecting our payment of old English debts.

The troubles you have had in Paris have afflicted me a great deal. I hope by this time they are over, and every thing settled as it should be, to the advantage both of the king and the nation.

My love to good Mme. Le Veillard and your children, in which Sec’y Benjamin joins; and believe me as ever, your affectionate friend,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 November, 1789
M. Le Roy
Le Roy, M.


It is now more than a year since I have heard from my dear friend Le Roy. What can be the reason? Are you still living? Or have the mob of Paris mistaken the head of a monopolizer of knowledge for a monopolizer of corn, and paraded it about the streets upon a pole.

Great part of the news we have had from Paris, for near a year past, has been very afflicting. I sincerely wish and pray it may all end well and happy, both for the king and the nation. The voice of Philosophy I apprehend can hardly be heard among those tumults. If any thing material in that way had Edition: current; Page: [161] occurred, I am persuaded you would have acquainted me with it. However, pray let me hear from you a little oftener; for, though the distance is great, and the means of conveying letters not very regular, a year’s silence between friends must needs give uneasiness.

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

My health continues much as it has been for some time, except that I grow thinner and weaker, so that I cannot expect to hold out much longer.

My respects to your good brother, and to our friends of the Academy, which always has my best wishes for its prosperity and glory. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 November, 1789
M. de Chaumont
de Chaumont, M.


My Good and Dear Old Friend:

Your very valuable son came to this town lately with the full intentions of taking his passage for France in obedience to the commands of his much respected father and mother, and supposing that his presence there would be useful to the affairs of the family. But on his communicating his purpose to me and acquainting me at the same time with the present situation Edition: current; Page: [162] of his demand upon Congress, where your accounts against them have been examined and approved, and the payment only delayed till by the operation of our new Constitution the Congress shall be furnished with money to discharge them, I could not help thinking it would be more advisable for him to postpone his voyage two or three months when he might hope to see his business here completed to his and your satisfaction, than to leave it in its present state, which might occasion a much longer delay; for the Impost Law, passed at the last session of Congress, being now in full force through all the States of the Union [imperfect] importation of goods in [imperfect] duties are paid having lately been immensely great, the flow of money into the treasury must be proportionable, so that when they meet again, which will be early in January next, they will find themselves in possession of a very considerable sum; and as their debt to you was one of the earliest they contracted, I suppose it will of course be one of the first they will think of discharging; and I have promised him to use my best interest and endeavors with them for that purpose. He has accordingly thought fit to take my advice, and I hope it will be approved by you and his good mother, and that this short delay will not occasion any great inconvenience; whereas if he should be absent when the first payments are made, his affair might be postponed for another year. We hope indeed that when he does visit you, you will not think of detaining and fixing him in France; for we are not willing to part with him; his behavior having been such, Edition: current; Page: [163] during his residence among us, as to obtain for him the good-will, respect, and esteem of all who have had the pleasure of knowing him.

Pray make my respects acceptable to good Madame [imperfect].

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 December, 1789
David Hartley
Hartley, David


My Very Dear Friend:

I received your favor of August last. Your kind condolences on the painful state of my health are very obliging. I am thankful to God, however, that, among the numerous ills human life is subject to, one only of any importance is fallen to my lot; and that so late as almost to insure that it can be but of short duration.

The convulsions in France are attended with some disagreeable circumstances; but if by the struggle she obtains and secures for the nation its future liberty and a good constitution, a few years’ enjoyment of those blessings will amply repair all the damages their acquisition may have occasioned. God grant that not only the love of liberty, but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man, may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface, and say, This is my country.

Your wishes for a cordial and perpetual friendship between Britain and her ancient colonies are manifested continually in every one of your letters to me; Edition: current; Page: [164] something of my disposition on the same subject may appear to you in casting your eye over the enclosed paper. I do not by this opportunity send you any of our gazettes, because the postage from Liverpool would be more than they are worth. I can now only add my best wishes of every kind of felicity for the three amiable Hartleys, to whom I have the honor of being an affectionate friend and most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
17 December, 1789
Jane Mecom
Mecom, Jane


Dear Sister:

You tell me you are desired by an acquaintance to ask my opinion, whether the general circumstances mentioned in the history of Baron Trenck are founded in fact; to which I can only answer that, of the greatest part of those circumstances, the scene being laid in Germany, I must consequently be very ignorant; but of what he says as having passed in France, between the ministers of that country, himself, and me, I can speak positively, that it is founded in falsehood, and that the fact can only serve to confound, as I never saw him in that country, nor ever knew or heard of him anywhere, till I met with the above-mentioned history in print, in the German language, in which he ventured to relate it as a fact, that I had, with those ministers, solicited him to enter into the American service. A translation of that book into French has since been Edition: current; Page: [165] printed, but the translator has omitted that pretended fact, probably from an apprehension that its being in that country known not to be true might hurt the credit and sale of the translation.

I thank you for the sermon on sacred music. I have read it with pleasure. I think it a very ingenious composition. You will say this is natural enough, if you read what I have formerly written on the same subject in one of my printed letters, wherein you will find a perfect agreement of sentiment respecting the complex music, of late, in my opinion, too much in vogue; it being only pleasing to learned ears, which can be delighted with the difficulty of execution, instead of harmony and melody. Your affectionate brother,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
17 December, 1789

TO ———

Dear Friend:

I have received your kind letter of the 5th inst., together with your present of Metheglin, of which I have already drank almost a bottle. I find it excellent; please to accept my thankful acknowledgments.

The letter of yours enclosed is from the widow of a Jew, who, happening to be one of a number of passengers, that were about forty years ago in a stage-boat going to New York, and which, by the unskilful management of the boatman, overset the canoe from whence I was endeavoring to get on Edition: current; Page: [166] board her, near Staten Island, has ever since worried me with demands of a gratia for having, as he pretended, been instrumental in saving my life; though that was in no danger, as we were near the shore, and you know what an expert swimmer I am, and he was no more of any service to me in stopping the boat to take me in than every other passenger; to all whom I gave a liberal entertainment at the tavern when we arrived at New York, to their general satisfaction, at the time; but this Hayes never saw me afterwards, at New York, or Brunswick, or Philadelphia that he did not dun me for money on the pretence of his being poor, and having been so happy as to be instrumental in saving my life, which was really in no danger. In this way he got of me sometimes a double joannes, sometimes a Spanish doubloon, and never less; how much in the whole I do not know, having kept no account of it; but it must have been a very considerable sum; and as he neither incurred any risk, nor was at any trouble in my behalf, I have long since thought him well paid for any little expense of humanity he might have felt on the occasion. He seems, however, to have left me to his widow as part of her dowry.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
26 December, 1789
Noah Webster
Webster, Noah


Dear Sir:

I received some time since your Dissertations on the English Language. The book was Edition: current; Page: [167] not accompanied by any letter or message, informing me to whom I am obliged for it, but I suppose it is to yourself. It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing. Please to accept my thanks for the great honor you have done me in its dedication. I ought to have made this acknowledgment sooner, but much indisposition prevented me.

I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language, both in its expressions and pronunciation, and in correcting the popular errors several of our States are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may have already occurred to you. I wish, however, in some future publication of yours, you would set a discountenancing mark upon them. The first I remember is the word improved. When I left New England, in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather’s, entitled Remarkable Providences. As that eminent man wrote a very obscure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word imployed, I conjectured it was an error of the printer, who had mistaken a too short l in the writing for an r, and a y with too short a tail for a v; whereby imployed was converted into improved.

But when I returned to Boston, in 1733, I found this change had obtained favor, and was then become common, for I met with it often in perusing the newspapers, where it frequently made an appearance Edition: current; Page: [168] rather ridiculous. Such, for instance, as the advertisement of a country-house to be sold, which had been many years improved as a tavern; and, in the character of a deceased country gentleman, that he had been for more than thirty years improved as a justice of the peace. This use of the word improved is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with among any other speakers of English, either on this or the other side of the water.

During my late absence in France, I find that several other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language; for example, I find a verb formed from the substantive notice: I should not have noticed this, were it not that the gentleman, etc. Also another verb from the substantive advocate: The gentleman who advocates or has advocated that motion, etc. Another from the substantive progress, the most awkward and abominable of the three: The committee, having progressed, resolved to adjourn. The word opposed, though not a new word, I find used in a new manner, as: The gentlemen who are opposed to this measure; to which I have also myself always been opposed. If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them.

The Latin language, long the vehicle used in distributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and more neglected; and one of the modern tongues, viz., the French, seems in point of universality to have supplied its place. It is spoken in all the courts of Europe; and most of the Edition: current; Page: [169] literati, those even who do not speak it, have acquired knowledge enough of it to enable them easily to read the books that are written in it. This gives a considerable advantage to that nation; it enables its authors to inculcate and spread throughout other nations such sentiments and opinions on important points, as are most conducive to its interests, or which may contribute to its reputation by promoting the common interests of mankind. It is perhaps owing to its being written in French, that Voltaire’s treatise on Toleration has had so sudden and so great an effect on the bigotry of Europe, as almost entirely to disarm it. The general use of the French language has likewise a very advantageous effect on the profits of the bookselling branch of commerce, it being well known that the more copies can be sold that are struck off from one composition of types, the profits increase in a much greater proportion than they do in making a great number of pieces in any other kind of manufacture. And at present there is no capital town in Europe without a French bookseller’s shop corresponding with Paris.

Our English bids fair to obtain the second place. The great body of excellent printed sermons in our language, and the freedom of our writings on political subjects, have induced a number of divines of different sects and nations, as well as gentlemen concerned in public affairs, to study it; so far at least as to read it. And if we were to endeavor the facilitating its progress, the study of our tongue might become much more general. Those who have employed some parts of their time in learning a new Edition: current; Page: [170] language have frequently observed that, while their acquaintance with it was imperfect, difficulties small in themselves operated as great ones in obstructing their progress. A book, for example, ill printed, or a pronunciation in speaking, not well articulated, would render a sentence unintelligible; which, from a clear print or a distinct speaker, would have been immediately comprehended. If therefore we would have the benefit of seeing our language more generally known among mankind, we should endeavor to remove all the difficulties, however small, that discourage the learning it.

But I am sorry to observe that, of late years, those difficulties, instead of being diminished, have been augmented. In examining the English books that were printed between the Restoration and the accession of George the Second, we may observe that all substantives were begun with a capital, in which we imitated our mother tongue, the German. This was more particularly useful to those who were not well acquainted with the English; there being such a prodigious number of our words that are both verbs and substantives, and spelled in the same manner, though often accented differently in the pronunciation.

This method has, by the fancy of printers, of late years been laid aside, from an idea that suppressing the capitals shows the character to greater advantage; those letters prominent above the line disturbing its even, regular appearance. The effect of this change is so considerable, that a learned man of France, who used to read our books, though not perfectly Edition: current; Page: [171] acquainted with our language, in conversation with me on the subject of our authors, attributed the greater obscurity he found in our modern books, compared with those of the period above mentioned, to change of style for the worse in our writers; of which mistake I convinced him, by marking for him each substantive with a capital in a paragraph, which he then easily understood, though before he could not comprehend it. This shows the inconvenience of that pretended improvement.

From the same fondness for an even and uniform appearance of characters in the line, the printers have of late banished also the italic types, in which words of importance to be attended to in the sense of the sentence, and words on which an emphasis should be put in reading, used to be printed. And lately another fancy has induced some printers to use the short round s, instead of the long one, which formerly served well to distinguish a word readily by its varied appearance. Certainly the omitting this prominent letter makes the line appear more even, but renders it less immediately legible; as the paring all men’s noses might smooth and level their faces, but would render their physiognomies less distinguishable.

Add to all these improvements backwards, another modern fancy, that gray printing is more beautiful than black; hence the English new books are printed in so dim a character as to be read with difficulty by old eyes, unless in a very strong light and with good glasses. Whoever compares a volume of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printed between the years 1731 and 1740, with one of those printed in the last ten Edition: current; Page: [172] years, will be convinced of the much greater degree of perspicuity given by black ink than by gray. Lord Chesterfield pleasantly remarked this difference to Faulkener, the printer of the Dublin Journal, who was vainly making encomiums on his own paper, as the most complete of any in the world. “But, Mr. Faulkener,” said my Lord, “don’t you think it might be still farther improved by using paper and ink not quite so near of a color?” For all these reasons I cannot but wish that our American printers would, in their editions, avoid these fancied improvements, and thereby render their works more agreeable to foreigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our bookselling commerce.

Further, to be more sensible of the advantage of clear and distinct printing, let us consider the assistance it affords in reading well aloud to an auditory. In so doing the eye generally slides forward three or four words before the voice. If the sight clearly distinguishes what the coming words are, it gives time to order the modulation of the voice to express them properly. But if they are obscurely printed, or disguised by omitting the capitals and long s’s, or otherwise, the reader is apt to modulate wrong; and, finding he has done so, he is obliged to go back and begin the sentence again, which lessens the pleasure of the hearers.

This leads me to mention an old error in our mode of printing. We are sensible that, when a question is met with in reading, there is a proper variation to be used in the management of the voice. We have therefore a point called an interrogation affixed to Edition: current; Page: [173] the question in order to distinguish it. But this is absurdly placed at its end; so that the reader does not discover it till he finds he has wrongly modulated his voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the sentence. To prevent this, the Spanish printers, more sensibly, place an interrogation at the beginning as well as at the end of a question. We have another error of the same kind in printing plays, where something often occurs that is marked as spoken aside. But the word aside is placed at the end of the speech, when it ought to precede it, as a direction to the reader, that he may govern his voice accordingly. The practice of our ladies in meeting five or six together to form a little busy party, where each is employed in some useful work while one reads to them, is so commendable in itself that it deserves the attention of authors and printers to make it as pleasing as possible, both to the reader and hearers.

After these general observations, permit me to make one that I imagine may regard your interest. It is that your Spelling Book is miserably printed here, so as in many places to be scarcely legible, and on wretched paper. If this is not attended to, and the new one lately advertised as coming out should be preferable in these respects, it may hurt the future sale of yours.

I congratulate you on your marriage, of which the newspapers inform me. My best wishes attend you, being with sincere esteem, sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [174]
John Paul Jones
Jones, John Paul
27 December, 1789
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


Dear Sir:

The enclosed documents, from my friend the Count de Ségur, Minister Plenipotentiary of France at St. Petersburg, will explain to you in some degree my reasons for leaving Russia, and the danger to which I was exposed by the dark intrigues and mean subterfuges of Asiatic jealousy and malice. Your former friendship for me, which I remember with particular satisfaction, and have ever been ambitious to merit, will, I am sure, be exerted in the kind use you will make of the three pieces I now send you, for my justification in the eyes of my friends in America, whose good opinion is dearer to me than any thing else. I wrote to the Empress from Warsaw in the beginning of October, with a copy of my Journal, which will show her Majesty how much she has been deceived by the account she had of our maritime operations last campaign. I can easily prove to the world that I have been treated unjustly; but I intend to remain silent, at least till I know the fate of my Journal.

I shall remain in Europe till after the opening of the next campaign, and perhaps longer, before I return to America. From the troubles in Brabant, and the measures now pursuing by the King of Prussia, I presume that peace is yet a distant object, and that the Baltic will witness warmer work than it has yet done. On the death of Admiral Greig, I was last year called from the Black Sea, by the Edition: current; Page: [175] Empress, to command a squadron in the Baltic. This set the invention of all my enemies and rivals at work, and the event has proved that the Empress cannot always do as she pleases. I am, with sincere affection, dear sir, etc.,

J. Paul Jones.

P. S.—It is this day ten years since I left the Texel in the Alliance.


I.: Of the Executive Branch

Your executive should consist of a single person.

On this I would ask: Is he to have no council? How is he to be informed of the state and circumstances of the different counties, their wants, their abilities, their dispositions, and the characters of the principle people, respecting their integrity, capacities, and qualifications for offices? Does not the present construction of our executive provide well for these particulars? And, during the number of years it has existed, have its errors or failures in answering the end of its appointment been more or greater than might have been expected from a single person?

Edition: current; Page: [176]

But an individual is more easily watched and controlled than any greater number.

On this I would ask: Who is to watch and control him? and by what means is he to be controlled? Will not those means, whatever they are, and in whatever body vested, be subject to the same inconveniences of expense, delay, obstruction of good intentions, etc., which are objected to the present executive?

II.: The Duration of the Appointment

This should be governed by the following principles, the independence of the magistrate, and the stability of his administration; neither of which can be secured but by putting both beyond the reach of every annual gust of folly and of faction.

On this it may be asked: Ought it not also to be put beyond the reach of every triennial, quinquennial, or septennial gust of folly and faction, and, in short, beyond the reach of folly and of faction at any period whatever? Does not this reasoning aim at establishing a monarchy at least for life, like that of Poland? or to prevent the inconveniences such as that kingdom is subject to in a new election on every decease? Are the freemen of Pennsylvania convinced, from a view of the history of such governments, that it will be for their advantage to submit themselves to a government of such construction?

III.: On the Legislative Branch

A plural legislature is as necessary to good government as a single executive. It is not enough that Edition: current; Page: [177] your legislature should be numerous; it should also be divided. Numbers alone are not a sufficient barrier against the impulses of passion, the combination of interest, the intrigues of faction, the haste of folly, or the spirit of encroachment. One division should watch over and control the other, supply its wants, correct its blunders, and cross its designs, should they be criminal or erroneous. Wisdom is the specific quality of the legislature, grows out of the number of the body, and is made up of the portions of sense and knowledge which each member brings to it.

On this it may be asked: May not the wisdom brought to the legislature by each member be as effectual a barrier against the impulses of passion, etc., when the members are united in one body, as when they are divided? If one part of the legislature may control the operations of the other, may not the impulses of passion, the combinations of interest, the intrigues of faction, the haste of folly, or the spirit of encroachment in one of those bodies obstruct the good proposed by the other, and frustrate its advantages to the public? Have we not experienced in this State, when a province under the government of the proprietors, the mischiefs of a second branch existing in the proprietary family, countenanced and aided by an aristocratic council? How many delays and what great expenses were occasioned in carrying on the public business; and what a train of mischiefs, even to the preventing of the defence of the province during several years, Edition: current; Page: [178] when distressed by an Indian war, by the iniquitous demand that the proprietary property should be exempt from taxation? The wisdom of a few members in one single legislative body, may it not frequently stifle bad motions in their infancy, and so prevent their being adopted? whereas, if those wise men, in case of a double legislature, should happen to be in that branch wherein the motion did not arise, may it not, after being adopted by the other, occasion long disputes and contentions between the two bodies, expensive to the public, obstructing the public business, and promoting factions among the people, many tempers naturally adhering obstinately to measures they have once publicly adopted? Have we not seen, in one of our neighboring States, a bad measure, adopted by one branch of the legislature, for want of the assistance of some more intelligent members who had been packed into the other, occasion many debates, conducted with much asperity, which could not be settled but by an expensive general appeal to the public? And have we not seen, in another neighboring State, a similar difference between the two branches, occasioning long debates and contentions, whereby the State was prevented for many months enjoying the advantage of having Senators in the Congress of the United States? And has our present legislature in one Assembly committed any errors of importance, which they have not remedied or may not easily remedy; more easily, probably, than if divided into branches? And if the wisdom brought by the members to the Assembly is divided into two branches, may it Edition: current; Page: [179] not be too weak in each to support a good measure, or obstruct a bad one? The division of the legislature into two or three branches in England, was it the product of wisdom, or the effect of necessity, arising from the pre-existing prevalence of an odious feudal system? which government, notwithstanding this division, is now become, in fact, an absolute monarchy, since the . . . by bribing the representatives with the people’s money, carries, by his ministers, all the measures that please him; which is equivalent to governing without a parliament, and renders the machine of government much more complex and expensive, and, from its being more complex, more easily put out of order. Has not the famous political fable of the snake, with two heads and one body, some useful instruction contained in it? She was going to a brook to drink, and in her way was to pass through a hedge, a twig of which opposed her direct course; one head chose to go on the right side of the twig, the other on the left; so that time was spent in the contest, and, before the decision was completed, the poor snake died with thirst.

Hence it is that the two branches should be elected by persons differently qualified; and in short, that, as far as possible, they should be made to represent different interests. Under this reason I would establish a legislature of two Houses. The upper should represent the property; the lower, the population of the State. The upper should be chosen by freemen possessing in land and houses one thousand pounds; the lower, by all such as had Edition: current; Page: [180] resided four years in the country, and paid taxes. The first should be chosen for four, the last for two years. They should be in authority co-equal.

Several questions may arise upon this proposition. 1st. What is the proportion of freemen possessing lands and houses of one thousand pounds’ value, compared to that of freemen whose possessions are inferior? Are they as one to ten? Are they even as one to twenty? I should doubt whether they are as one to fifty. If this minority is to choose a body expressly to control that which is to be chosen by the great majority of the freemen, what have this great majority done to forfeit so great a portion of their right in elections? Why is this power of control, contrary to the spirit of all democracies, to be vested in a minority, instead of a majority? Then, is it intended, or is it not, that the rich should have a vote in the choice of members for the lower House, while those of inferior property are deprived of the right of voting for members of the upper House? And why should the upper House, chosen by a minority, have equal power with the lower chosen by a majority? Is it supposed that wisdom is the necessary concomitant of riches, and that one man worth a thousand pounds must have as much wisdom as twenty who have each only nine hundred and ninety-nine; and why is property to be represented at all? Suppose one of our Indian nations should now agree to form a civil society; each individual would bring into the stock of the society little more property than his gun and his blanket, for at present he has no other. We Edition: current; Page: [181] know that, when one of them has attempted to keep a few swine, he has not been able to maintain a property in them, his neighbors thinking they have a right to kill and eat them whenever they want provision, it being one of their maxims that hunting is free to all; the accumulation therefore of property in such a society, and its security to individuals in every society, must be an effect of the protection afforded to it by the joint strength of the society, in the execution of its laws. Private property therefore is a creature of society, and is subject to the calls of that society, whenever its necessities shall require it, even to its last farthing; its contributions to the public exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a benefit on the public, entitling the contributors to the distinctions of honor and power, but as the return of an obligation previously received, or the payment of a just debt. The combinations of civil society are not like those of a set of merchants, who club their property in different proportions for building and freighting a ship, and may therefore have some right to vote in the disposition of the voyage in a greater or less degree according to their respective contributions; but the important ends of civil society, and the personal securities of life and liberty there, remain the same in every member of the society; and the poorest continues to have an equal claim to them with the most opulent, whatever difference time, chance, or industry may occasion in their circumstances. On these considerations I am sorry to see the signs this paper I have been considering affords, of a disposition among some of our people to Edition: current; Page: [182] commence an aristocracy, by giving the rich a predominancy in government, a choice peculiar to themselves in one half the legislature to be proudly called the upper House, and the other branch, chosen by the majority of the people, degraded by the denomination of the lower; and giving to this upper House a permanency of four years, and but two to the lower. I hope, therefore, that our Representatives in the convention will not hastily go into these innovations, but take the advice of the Prophet: “Stand in the old ways, view the ancient paths, consider them well, and be not among those that are given to change.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 January, 1790

TO ———


I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me respecting the construction of the eleventh article of the treaty of commerce between France and the United States. I was indeed one of the Commissioners for making that treaty, but the Commissioners have no right to explain the treaty. Its explanation is to be sought for in its own words, and, in case it cannot be clearly found there, then by an application to the contracting powers.

I certainly conceived that when the droit d’aubaine was relinquished in favor of the citizens of the United States, the relinquishing clause was meant to extend to all the dominions of his most Christian Edition: current; Page: [183] Majesty; and I am of opinion that this would not be denied, if an explanation were requested of the court of France; and it ought to be done, if any difficulties arise on this subject in the French islands, which their courts do not determine in our favor. But, before Congress is petitioned to make such a request, I imagine it would be proper to have the case tried in some of the West India islands, and the petition made in consequence of a determination against us. I have the honor to be, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 March, 1790
Ezra Stiles
Stiles, Ezra


I received your kind letter of January 28th,1 and am glad you have at length received the portrait Edition: current; Page: [184] of Governor Yale from his family, and deposited it in the College Library. He was a great and good man, and had the merit of doing infinite service to your country by his munificence to that institution. The honor you propose doing me by placing mine in the same room with his is much too great for my deserts; but you always had a partiality for me, and to that it must be ascribed. I am, however, too much obliged to Yale College, the first learned society that took notice of me and adorned me with its honors, to refuse a request that comes from it through so esteemed a friend. But I do not think any one of the portraits you mention as in my possession worthy of the situation and company you propose to place it in. You have an excellent artist lately arrived. If he will undertake to make one for you, Edition: current; Page: [185] I shall cheerfully pay the expense; but he must not delay setting about it, or I may slip through his fingers, for I am now in my eighty-fifth year and very infirm.

I send with this a very learned work, as it seems to me, on the ancient Samaritan coins, lately printed in Spain, and at least curious for the beauty of the impression. Please to accept it for your college library. I have subscribed for the Encyclopædia now printing here, with the intention of presenting it to the College. I shall probably depart before the work is finished, but shall leave directions for its continuance to the end. With this you will receive some of the first numbers.

You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with Edition: current; Page: [186] most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.

I shall only add, respecting myself that, having experienced the goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness.1 My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of an old letter enclosed,2 which I wrote in answer to one Edition: current; Page: [187] from an old religionist, whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who, being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious though rather impertinent caution. I send you also the copy of another letter,1 which will show something of my disposition relating to religion.

P. S.—Had not your College some present of books from the king of France? Please to let me know if you had an expectation given you of more, and the nature of that expectation. I have a reason for the enquiry.

I confide that you will not expose me to criticisms and censures by publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me unsupportable or even absurd. All sects here, and we have a great variety, have experienced my good-will in assisting them with subscriptions for the building their new places of worship; and, as I have never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with them all.


To the Editor of the Federal Gazette:


Reading last night in your excellent paper the speech of Mr. Jackson in Congress against their Edition: current; Page: [188] meddling with the affairs of slavery, or attempting to mend the condition of the slaves, it put me in mind of a similar one made about one hundred years since by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin’s account of his consulship, anno 1687. It was against granting the petition of the sect called Erika, or Purists, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and slavery as being unjust. Mr. Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it. If, therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech, it may only show that men’s interests and intellects operate and are operated on with surprising similarity in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar Edition: current; Page: [189] circumstances. The African’s speech, as translated, is as follows:

Allah Bismillah, etc. God is great, and Mahomet is his Prophet

Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting their petition? If we cease our cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who in this hot climate are to cultivate our lands? Who are to perform the common labors of our city, and in our families? Must we not then be our own slaves? And is there not more compassion and more favor due to us as Mussulmen than to these Christian dogs? We have now above fifty thousand slaves in and near Algiers. This number, if not kept up by fresh supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If we then cease taking and plundering the infidel ships, and making slaves of the seamen and passengers, our lands will become of no value for want of cultivation; the rents of houses in the city will sink one half; and the revenue of government arising from its share of prizes be totally destroyed! And for what? To gratify the whims of a whimsical sect, who would have us not only forbear making more slaves, but even manumit those we have.

But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss? Will the state do it? Is our treasury sufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, Edition: current; Page: [190] do a greater injustice to the owners? And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them will return to their countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy religion; they will not adopt our manners; our people will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them. Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets, or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage? For men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition? Were they not slaves in their own countries?

Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception? Even England treats its sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized, and confined in ships of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight, for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us. Is their condition then made worse by their falling into our hands? No; they have only exchanged one slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal souls. Those who remain at home have not that happiness. Sending the slaves home then would be sending them out of light into darkness.

Edition: current; Page: [191]

I repeat the question, What is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state; but they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor without compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with humanity. The laborers in their own country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed. The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further improvement. Here their lives are in safety. They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another’s Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countries. If some of the religious mad bigots, who now tease us with their silly petitions, have in a fit of blind zeal freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was the conscious burthen of a load of sins, and a hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.

How grossly are they mistaken to suppose slavery to be disallowed by the Alcoran! Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, “Master, treat your slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,” clear proofs to the contrary? Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden, since it is well known from it, Edition: current; Page: [192] that God has given the world, and all that it contains, to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of right as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government and producing general confusion. I have therefore no doubt but this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.

The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this resolution: “The doctrine that plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best problematical; but that it is the interest of this state to continue the practice, is clear; therefore let the petition be rejected.”

And it was rejected accordingly.

And since like motives are apt to produce in the minds of men like opinions and resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the slave trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them will have a similar conclusion? I am, sir, your constant reader and humble servant,

Edition: current; Page: [193]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 March, 1790
Jane Mecom
Mecom, Jane


My Dear Sister:

I received your kind letter by your good neighbor, Captain Rich. The information it contained, that you continue well, gave me, as usual, great pleasure. As to myself, I have been quite free from pain for near three weeks past; and therefore, not being obliged to take any laudanum, my appetite has returned, and I have recovered some part of my strength. Thus I continue to live on, while all the friends of my youth have left me, and gone to join the majority. I have, however, the pleasure of continued friendship and conversation with their children and grandchildren. I do not repine at my malady, though a severe one, when I consider how well I am provided with every convenience to palliate it, and to make me comfortable under it; and how many more horrible evils the human body is subject to; and what a long life of health I have been blessed with, free from them all.

You have done well not to send me any more fish at present. These continue good, and give me pleasure.

Do you know any thing of our sister Scott’s daughter; whether she is still living, and where? This family join in love to you and yours, and to cousins Williams, with your affectionate brother,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—It is early in the morning, and I write in bed. The awkward position has occasioned the crooked lines.

Edition: current; Page: [194]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 April, 1790
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas


I received your letter of the 31st of last past, relating to encroachments made on the eastern limits of the United States by settlers under the British Government, pretending that it is the western and not the eastern river of the Bay of Passamaquoddy which was designated by the name of St. Croix, in the treaty of peace with that nation; and requesting of me to communicate any facts which my memory or papers may enable me to recollect, and which may indicate the true river, which the Commissioners on both sides had in their view, to establish as the boundary between the two nations.

Your letter found me under a severe fit of my malady, which prevented my answering it sooner, or attending, indeed, to any kind of business. I now can assure you that I am perfectly clear in the remembrance that the map we used in tracing the boundary was brought to the treaty by the Commissioners from England, and that it was the same that was published by Mitchell above twenty years before. Having a copy of that map by me in loose sheets, I send you that sheet which contains the Bay of Passamaquoddy, where you will see that part of the boundary traced. I remember, too, that in that part of the boundary we relied much on the opinion of Mr. Adams, who had been concerned in some former disputes concerning those territories. I think, therefore, that you may obtain still further light from him.

Edition: current; Page: [195]

That the map we used was Mitchell’s map, Congress were acquainted at the time, by a letter to their Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which I suppose may be found upon their files.1

Edition: current; Page: [196]
William Temple Franklin
Franklin, William Temple
22 May, 1790
M. Le Veillard
Le Veillard, M.


You have already learned, my dear friend, the loss which you and I, and the world, have experienced, in Edition: current; Page: [197] the death of this good and amiable papa. Although we have long expected it, we were none the less shocked by it when it arrived. He loved you very tenderly, as he did all your family, and I do not Edition: current; Page: [198] doubt you will share my just sorrow. I intended writing you the details of his death by M. de Chaumont, but the duty of arranging his affairs, and especially his papers, prevented my answering your last, as well as the one which your daughter was pleased to write me, accompanying her work. I have been touched with this mark of her condescension and friendship, and I beg you to testify to her my gratitude until I have an opportunity of writing to her, which will certainly be by the first occasion for France. Now, as I am about writing, her goodness will awaken me. This letter will reach you by way of England.

I feel it my duty to profit by this occasion to inform you that my grandfather, among other legacies, has left all his papers and manuscripts to me, with permission to turn them to what profit I can. Consequently, I beg you, my dear friend, to show to no one that part of his Life which he sent you some time since, lest some one copy and publish it, which would infinitely prejudice the publication which I propose to make as soon as possible, of his entire Life and of his other works. As I have the original here of the part which you have, it will not be necessary for you to send it to me, but I beg you at all events to put it in an envelope, well sealed, addressed to me, in order that by no accident it may get into other hands.

If, however, it should be necessary to assist the person who will pronounce his eulogy at the Academy, you may lend it for that purpose, with the stipulation that no copy of it shall be made, and with Edition: current; Page: [199] such other precautions as you deem necessary. The foreign representatives of our government have not yet been named. It is possible I may be one, which would put me in the way to assist in the publication of my grandfather’s works; but even if they think no more of me, it is very probable that I shall conclude to go to Europe, inasmuch as I am persuaded I can derive more advantage from the publication in England or in France than in this country.

Adieu, for the present. In two or three weeks I hope to be able to write to you directly, as well as to my other friends, male and female, in France. Love me, my dear friend. I have more need than ever of your friendship.

W. T. Franklin.1
Edition: current; Page: [200]


I, Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, printer, late Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States Edition: current; Page: [201] of America to the Court of France, now President of the State of Pennsylvania, do make and declare my last will and testament as follows.

To my son, William Franklin, late Governor of the Jerseys, I give and devise all the lands I hold or Edition: current; Page: [202] have a right to, in the province of Nova Scotia, to hold to him, his heirs, and assigns forever. I also give to him all my books and papers, which he has in his possession, and all debts standing against him on my account books, willing that no payment for, Edition: current; Page: [203] nor restitution of, the same be required of him, by my executors. The part he acted against me in the late war, which is of public notoriety, will account for my leaving him no more of an estate he endeavored to deprive me of.1

Having since my return from France demolished the three houses in Market Street, between Third and Fourth Streets, fronting my dwelling-house, and erected two new and larger ones on the ground, and having also erected another house on the lot which formerly was the passage to my dwelling, and also a printing-office between my dwelling and the front houses; now I do give and devise my said dwelling-house, wherein I now live,2 my said three new houses, Edition: current; Page: [204] my printing-office and the lots of ground thereto belonging; also my small lot and house in Sixth Street, which I bought of the widow Henmarsh; also my pasture-ground which I have in Hickory Lane, with the buildings thereon; also my house and lot on the north side of Market Street, now occupied by Mary Jacobs, together with two houses and lots behind the same, and fronting on Pewter-Platter Alley; also my lot of ground in Arch Street, opposite the church burying-ground, with the buildings thereon erected; also all my silver plate, pictures, and household goods, of every kind, now in my said dwelling-house, to my daughter, Sarah Bache, and to her husband, Richard Bache, to hold to them for and during their natural lives, and the life of the longest liver of them. And from and after the decease of the survivor of them, I do give, devise, and bequeath to all children already born, or to be born of my said daughter, and to their heirs and assigns for ever, as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants.

And, if any or either of them shall happen to die under age, and without issue, the part and share of him, her, or them, so dying, shall go to and be equally divided among the survivors or survivor of them. But my intention is, that, if any or either of them should happen to die under age, leaving issue, such issue shall inherit the part and share that would have passed to his, her, or their parent, had he, she, or they been living.

And, as some of my said devisees may, at the death of the survivor of their father or mother, be of age, and others of them under age, so as that all of Edition: current; Page: [205] them may not be of capacity to make division, I in that case request and authorize the judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Pennsylvania for the time being, or any three of them, not personally interested, to appoint by writing, under their hands and seals, three honest, intelligent, impartial men to make the said division, and to assign and allot to each of my devisees their respective share, which division, so made and committed to writing under the hands and seals of the said three men, or of any two of them, and confirmed by the said judges, I do hereby declare shall be binding on, and conclusive between the said devisees.

All the lands near the Ohio, and the lots near the centre of Philadelphia, which I lately purchased of the State, I give to my son-in-law, Richard Bache, his heirs and assigns for ever; I also give him the bond I have against him, of two thousand one hundred and seventy-two pounds, five shillings, together with the interest that shall or may accrue thereon, and direct the same to be delivered up to him by my executors, cancelled, requesting that, in consideration thereof, he would immediately after my decease manumit and set free his negro man Bob. I leave to him, also, the money due to me from the State of Virginia for types. I also give to him the bond of William Goddard and his sister, and the counter bond of the late Robert Grace, and the bond and judgment of Francis Childs, if not recovered before my decease, or any other bonds, except the bond due from —— Killan, of Delaware State, which I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache. I also discharge him, my said Edition: current; Page: [206] son-in-law, from all claim and rent of moneys due to me, on book account or otherwise. I also give him all my musical instruments.

The king of France’s picture, set with four hundred and eight diamonds, I give to my daughter, Sarah Bache, requesting, however, that she would not form any of those diamonds into ornaments either for herself or daughters, and thereby introduce or countenance the expensive, vain, and useless fashion of wearing jewels in this country; and those immediately connected with the picture may be preserved with the same.1

I give and devise to my dear sister, Jane Mecom, a house and lot I have in Unity Street, Boston, now or late under the care of Mr. Jonathan Williams, to her and to her heirs and assigns for ever. I also give her the yearly sum of fifty pounds sterling, during life, to commence at my death, and to be paid to her annually out of the interests or dividends arising on twelve shares which I have since my arrival at Philadelphia purchased in the Bank of North America, and, at her decease, I give the said twelve shares in the bank to my daughter, Sarah Bache, and her husband, Richard Bache. But it is my express will and desire that, after the payment of the above fifty pounds sterling annually to my said sister,2 my said daughter Edition: current; Page: [207] be allowed to apply the residue of the interest or dividends on those shares to her sole and separate use, during the life of my said sister, and afterwards the whole of the interest or dividends thereof as her private pocket money.

I give the right I have to take up three thousand acres of land in the State of Georgia, granted to me by the government of that State, to my grandson, William Temple Franklin,1 his heirs and assigns for ever. I also give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin, the bond and judgment I have against him of four thousand pounds sterling, my right to the same to cease upon the day of his marriage; and if he dies unmarried, my will is, that the same be recovered and divided among my other grandchildren the children of my daughter, Sarah Bache, in such manner and form as I have herein before given to them the other parts of my estate.

The philosophical instruments I have in Philadelphia I give to my ingenious friend, Francis Hopkinson.

To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my brother, Samuel Franklin, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Anne Harris, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be Edition: current; Page: [208] equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my brother, James Franklin, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Sarah Davenport, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Lydia Scott, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Jane Mecom, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be equally divided among them.

I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache,1 all the types and printing materials, which I now have in Philadelphia, with the complete letter foundery, which, in the whole, I suppose to be worth near one thousand pounds; but if he should die under age, then I do order the same to be sold by my executors, the survivors or survivor of them, and the moneys thence arising to be equally divided among all the rest of my said daughter’s children, or their representatives, each one on coming of age to take Edition: current; Page: [209] his or her share, and the children of such of them as may die under age to represent, and to take the share and proportion of, the parent so dying, each one to receive his or her part of such share as they come of age.

With regard to my books, those I had in France and those I left in Philadelphia, being now assembled together here, and a catalogue made of them, it is my intention to dispose of the same as follows: My “History of the Academy of Sciences,” in sixty or seventy volumes quarto, I give to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, of which I have the honor to be President. My collection in folio of “Les Arts et les Métiers,” I give to the American Philosophical Society, established in New England, of which I am a member. My quarto edition of the same, “Arts et Métiers,” I give to the Library Company of Philadelphia. Such and so many of my books as I shall mark on the said catalogue with the name of my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, I do hereby give to him; and such and so many of my books as I shall mark on the said catalogue with the name of my grandson, William Bache, I do hereby give to him; and such as shall be marked with the name of Jonathan Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of that name. The residue and remainder of all my books, manuscripts, and papers, I do give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin. My share in the Library Company of Philadelphia, I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, confiding that he will permit his brothers and sisters to share in the use of it.

Edition: current; Page: [210]

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar-schools established there. I therefore give one hundred pounds sterling1 to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to the managers or directors of the free schools in my native town of Boston, to be by them, or by those person or persons, who shall have the superintendence and management of the said schools, put out to interest, and so continued at interest for ever, which interest annually shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary rewards annually by the directors of the said free schools belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the discretion of the selectmen of the said town shall seem meet.

Out of the salary that may remain due to me as President of the State, I do give the sum of two thousand pounds to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to such person or persons as the legislature of this State by an act of Assembly shall appoint to receive the same in trust, to be employed for making the river Schuylkill navigable.

And what money of mine shall, at the time of my decease, remain in the hands of my bankers, Edition: current; Page: [211] Messrs. Ferdinand Grand and Son, at Paris, or Messrs. Smith, Wright, and Gray, of London, I will that, after my debts are paid and deducted, with the money legacies of this my will, the same be divided into four equal parts, two of which I give to my dear daughter, Sarah Bache, one to her son Benjamin, and one to my grandson, William Temple Franklin.

During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer, and postmaster, a great many small sums became due for books, advertisements, postage of letters, and other matters, which were not collected when, in 1757, I was sent by the Assembly to England as their agent, and by subsequent appointments continued there till 1775, when on my return, I was immediately engaged in the affairs of Congress, and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years, not returning till 1785: and the said debts, not being demanded in such a length of time, are become in a manner obsolete, yet are nevertheless justly due. These, as they are stated in my great folio ledger E, I bequeath to the contributors of the Pennsylvania Hospital, hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands as just debts, may, however, be induced to pay or give them as charity to that excellent institution. I am sensible that much must inevitably be lost, but I hope something considerable may be recovered. It is possible, too, that some of the parties charged may have existing old, unsettled accounts against me; in which case the managers Edition: current; Page: [212] of the said hospital will allow and deduct the amount, or pay the balance if they find it against me.1

My debts and legacies being all satisfied and paid, the rest and residue of all my estate, real and personal, not herein expressly disposed of, I do give and bequeath to my son and daughter, Richard and Sarah Bache.

I request my friends, Henry Hill, Esquire, John Jay, Esquire, Francis Hopkinson, Esquire, and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Benfield, in Philadelphia County, to be the executors of this my last will and testament; and I hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose.

I would have my body buried with as little expense or ceremony as may be. I revoke all former wills by me made, declaring this only to be my last.

[SEAL] In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.
B. Franklin.

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above-named Benjamin Franklin, for and as his last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Abraham Shoemaker,
John Jones,
George Moore.
Edition: current; Page: [213]


I, Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or annexed last will and testament named, having further considered the same, do think proper to make and publish the following codicil or addition thereto.

It having long been a fixed political opinion of mine, that in a democratical state there ought to be no offices of profit, for the reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our Constitution, it was my intention when I accepted the office of President, to devote the appointed salary to some public uses. Accordingly, I had already, before I made my will in July last, given large sums of it to colleges, schools, building of churches, etc.; and in that will I bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the State for the purpose of making the Schuylkill navigable. But understanding since that such a sum will do but little towards accomplishing such a work, and that the project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to come, and having entertained another idea, that I hope may be more extensively useful, I do hereby revoke and annul that bequest, and direct that the certificates I have for what remains due to me of that salary be sold, towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be disposed of as I am now about to order.

It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors is under some kind of obligation to transmit the same to their posterity. This Edition: current; Page: [214] obligation does not lie on me, who never inherited a shilling from any ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is made merely as some apology to my family for making bequests that do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar-schools established there. I have, therefore, already considered these schools in my will. But I am also under obligations to the State of Massachusetts for having, unasked, appointed me formerly their agent in England, with a handsome salary, which continued some years; and although I accidentally lost in their service, by transmitting Governor Hutchinson’s letters, much more than the amount of what they gave me, I do not think that ought in the least to diminish my gratitude.

I have considered that, among artisans, good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens, and, having myself been bred to a manual art, printing, in my native town, and afterwards assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia by kind loans of money from two friends there, which was the foundation of my fortune, and of all the utility in life that may be ascribed to me, I wish to be useful even after my death, if possible, in forming and advancing other young men, that may be serviceable to their country in both those towns. To this end, I devote two thousand pounds sterling, of which I give one thousand Edition: current; Page: [215] thereof to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in Massachusetts, and the other thousand to the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia, in trust, to and for the uses, intents, and purposes hereinafter mentioned and declared.

The said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if accepted by the inhabitants of the town of Boston, shall be managed under the direction of the selectmen, united with the ministers of the oldest Episcopalian, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches in that town, who are to let out the sum upon interest at five per cent. per annum, to such young married artificers, under the age of twenty-five years, as have served an apprenticeship in the said town, and faithfully fulfilled the duties required in their indentures, so as to obtain a good moral character from at least two respectable citizens, who are willing to become their sureties, in a bond with the applicants, for the repayment of the moneys so lent, with interest, according to the terms hereinafter prescribed; all which bonds are to be taken for Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in current gold coin; and the managers shall keep a bound book or books, wherein shall be entered the names of those who shall apply for and receive the benefits of this institution, and of their sureties, together with the sums lent, the dates, and other necessary and proper records respecting the business and concerns of this institution. And as these loans are intended to assist young married artificers in setting up their business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds Edition: current; Page: [216] sterling to one person, nor to be less than fifteen pounds; and if the number of appliers so entitled should be so large as that the sum will not suffice to afford to each as much as might otherwise not be improper, the proportion to each shall be diminished so as to afford to every one some assistance. These aids, may therefore, be small at first, but, as the capital increases by the accumulated interest, they will be more ample. And in order to serve as many as possible in their turn, as well as to make the repayment of the principal borrowed more easy, each borrower shall be obliged to pay, with the yearly interest, one tenth part of the principal, which sums of principal and interest, so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh borrowers.

And, as it is presumed that there will always be found in Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens, willing to bestow a part of their time in doing good to the rising generation, by superintending and managing this institution gratis, it is hoped that no part of the money will at any time be dead, or be diverted to other purposes, but be continually augmenting by the interest; in which case there may, in time, be more than the occasions in Boston shall require, and then some may be spared to the neighboring or other towns in the said State of Massachusetts, who may desire to have it; such towns engaging to pay punctually the interest and the portions of the principal, annually, to the inhabitants of the town of Boston.

If this plan is executed, and succeeds as projected without interruption for one hundred years, the sum will then be one hundred and thirty-one thousand Edition: current; Page: [217] pounds; of which I would have the managers of the donation to the town of Boston then lay out, at their discretion, one hundred thousand pounds in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the inhabitants, such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to strangers resorting thither for health or a temporary residence. The remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let out on interest, in the manner above directed, for another hundred years, as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will be four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and three millions to the disposition of the government of the State, not presuming to carry my views farther.

All the directions herein given, respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia, only, as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation of that city to undertake the management agreeably to the said directions; and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers for that purpose. And, having considered that the covering a ground Edition: current; Page: [218] plat with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of the rain and prevent its soaking into the earth and renewing and purifying the springs, whence the water of wells must gradually grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in all old cities, I recommend that at the end of the first hundred years, if not done before, the corporation of the city employ a part of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing, by pipes, the water of Wissahickon Creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants, which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level of the creek being much above that of the city, and may be made higher by a dam. I also recommend making the Schuylkill completely navigable. At the end of the second hundred years, I would have the disposition of the four million and sixty-one thousand pounds divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as herein directed with respect to that of the inhabitants of Boston and the government of Massachusetts.

It is my desire that this institution should take place and begin to operate within one year after my decease, for which purpose due notice should be publicly given previous to the expiration of that year, that those for whose benefit this establishment is intended may make their respective applications. And I hereby direct my executors, the survivors or survivor of them, within six months after my decease, to pay over the said sum of two thousand pounds sterling to such persons as shall be duly appointed Edition: current; Page: [219] by the selectmen of Boston and the corporation of Philadelphia, to receive and take charge of their respective sums, of one thousand pounds each, for the purposes aforesaid.

Considering the accidents to which all human affairs and projects are subject in such a length of time, I have, perhaps, too much flattered myself with a vain fancy that these dispositions, if carried into execution, will be continued without interruption and have the effects proposed. I hope, however, that if the inhabitants of the two cities should not think fit to undertake the execution, they will, at least, accept the offer of these donations as a mark of my good-will, a token of my gratitude, and a testimony of my earnest desire to be useful to them after my departure. I wish, indeed, that they may both undertake to endeavor the execution of the project, because I think that, though unforeseen difficulties may arise, expedients will be found to remove them, and the scheme be found practicable. If one of them accepts the money, with the conditions, and the other refuses, my will then is, that both sums be given to the inhabitants of the city accepting, the whole to be applied to the same purposes, and under the same regulations directed for the separate parts; and, if both refuse, the money of course remains in the mass of my estate, and is to be disposed of therewith according to my will made the seventeenth day of July, 1788.1

Edition: current; Page: [220]

I wish to be buried by the side of my wife, if it may be, and that a marble stone, to be made by Chambers, six feet long, four feet wide, plain, with only a small moulding round the upper edge, and this inscription:


to be placed over us both.

My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a sceptre, he has merited Edition: current; Page: [221] it, and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the Dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it.

I give my gold watch to my son-in-law, Richard Bache, and also the gold watch chain of the Thirteen United States, which I have not yet worn. My timepiece, that stands in my library, I give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I give him also my Chinese gong. To my dear old friend, Mrs. Mary Hewson, I give one of my silver tankards marked Edition: current; Page: [222] for her use during her life, and after her decease I give it to her daughter Eliza. I give to her son, William Hewson, who is my godson, my new quarto Bible, Oxford edition, to be for his family Bible, and also the botanic description of the plants in the Emperor’s garden at Vienna, in folio, with colored cuts.

And to her son, Thomas Hewson, I give a set of Spectators, Tatlers, and Guardians handsomely bound.

There is an error in my will, where the bond of William Temple Franklin is mentioned as being four thousand pounds sterling, whereas it is but for three thousand five hundred pounds.

I give to my executors, to be divided equally among those that act, the sum of sixty pounds sterling, as some compensation for their trouble in the execution of my will; and I request my friend, Mr. Duffield, to accept moreover my French wayweiser, a piece of clockwork in brass, to be fixed to the wheel of any carriage; and that my friend, Mr. Hill, may also accept my silver cream-pot, formerly given to me by the good Doctor Fothergill, with the motto, Keep bright the chain. My reflecting telescope, made by Short, which was formerly Mr. Canton’s, I give to my friend, Mr. David Rittenhouse, for the use of his observatory.

My picture, drawn by Martin, in 1767, I give to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, if they shall be pleased to do me the honor of accepting it and placing it in their chamber.

Since my will was made I have bought some more city lots, near the centre part of the estate of Joseph Dean. I would have them go with the other lots, disposed Edition: current; Page: [223] of in my will, and I do give the same to my son-in-law, Richard Bache, to his heirs and assigns forever.

In addition to the annuity left to my sister in my will, of fifty pounds sterling during her life, I now add thereto ten pounds sterling more, in order to make the sum sixty pounds. I give twenty guineas to my good friend and physician, Dr. John Jones.

With regard to the separate bequests made to my daughter Sarah in my will, my intention is, that the same shall be for her sole and separate use, notwithstanding her coverture, or whether she be covert or sole; and I do give my executors so much right and power therein as may be necessary to render my intention effectual in that respect only. This provision for my daughter is not made out of any disrespect I have for her husband.

And lastly, it is my desire that this, my present codicil, be annexed to, and considered as part of, my last will and testament to all intents and purposes.

[SEAL] In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-third day of June, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
B. Franklin.

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above-named Benjamin Franklin to be a codicil to his last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Francis Bailey,
Thomas Lang,
Abraham Shoemaker.
Edition: current; Page: [224]


The Body


Benjamin Franklin


(Like the cover of an old book

Its contents torn out

And stript of its lettering and gilding)

Lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost

For it will (as he believed) appear once more

In a new and more elegant edition

Revised and corrected

by The Author.1

Edition: current; Page: [225]


Edition: current; Page: [226] Edition: current; Page: [227]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 July, 1743
William Strahan
Strahan, William



Mr. Read has communicated to me part of a letter from you, recommending a young man whom you would be glad to see in better business than that of a journeyman printer.1 I have already three printing-houses in three different colonies, and purpose to set up a fourth if I can meet with a proper person to manage it, having all materials ready for that purpose. If the young man will venture over hither, that I may see and be acquainted with him, Edition: current; Page: [228] we can treat about the affair, and I make no doubt but he will think my proposals reasonable; if we should not agree, I promise him, however, a twelve-month’s good work, and to defray his passage back if he inclines to return to England. I am, sir, your humble servant unknown,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 July, 1744
William Strahan
Strahan, William



I received your favor per Mr. Hall, who arrived here about two weeks since, and from the short acquaintance I have had with him I am persuaded he will answer perfectly the character you have given of him. I make no doubt but his voyage, though it has been expensive, will prove advantageous to him. I have already made him some proposals, which he has under consideration, and as we are like to agree on them, we shall not, I believe, differ on the article of his passage money.

I am much obliged to you for your care and pains in procuring me the founding tools; though I think, Edition: current; Page: [229] with you, that the workmen have not been at all bashful in making their bills. I shall pay a proportion of the insurance, etc., to Mr. Read, and send you a bill by the next opportunity.

I thank you for Mr. Dobbs’ piece. I wish that public-spirited gentleman may live to enjoy the satisfaction of hearing that English vessels sail easily through his expected passage. But though from the idea this piece gives me of Capt. Middleton I don’t much like him, yet I would do him the justice to read what he has to say for himself, and therefore request you to send me what is published on his side of the question. I have long wanted a friend in London, whose judgment I would depend on, to send me from time to time such new pamphlets as are worth reading on any subject (religious controversy excepted), for there is no depending on titles and advertisements. This favor I take the freedom to beg of you, and shall lodge money in your hands for that purpose.

We have seldom any news on our side of the globe that can be entertaining to you or yours. All our affairs are petit. They have a miniature resemblance only, of the grand things of Europe. Our governments, parliaments, wars, treaties, expeditions, fashions, etc., though matters of great and serious consequence to us, can seem but trifles to you. Four days since, our naval force received a terrible blow. Fifty sail of the line destroyed would scarce be a greater loss to Britain than that to us,—and yet ’t was only a 20-gun-ship sunk, and about one hundred men drowned, just as she was going out to sea on a Edition: current; Page: [230] privateering voyage against the king’s enemies. She was overset by a flaw of wind, being built too sharp, and too high-masted. A treaty is now holding at Newtown, in Lancaster County, a place sixty miles west of this city, between the governments of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania on one side, and the united five nations of Indians on the other. I will send you an account of it when printed, as the method of doing business with those barbarians may perhaps afford you some amusement.

We have already in our library Bolton’s and Shaw’s abridgments of Boyle’s works. I shall, however, mention to the directors the edition of his works at large; possibly they may think fit to send for it.

Please to remember me affectionately to my old friend Mr. Wigate, to whom I shall write per next opportunity. I am sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 July, 1744
William Strahan
Strahan, William

The above is a copy of my last (via Coke). This encloses bills for twenty pounds thirteen shillings sterling, for which when received please to give my account credit, and send me by the first ship a font of about 300 lb. wt. of good new English letter, which I shall want to complete a little printing-house for our common friend Mr. Hall. I send you per this ship a box containing 300 copies of a piece I have lately printed here, and purpose to send you 200 more per next ship. I desire you to take the Edition: current; Page: [231] properest measures for getting them sold at such a price as they will readily fetch, and I will take books of you in exchange for them. This kind of commerce may be advantageous to us both, and to Mr. Hall; since, if we have a reasonable sale where we live, for such things as we print, what we do over and above, and can get disposed of at a foreign market, is almost so much clear gain. I have only time to add that I am, with sincere regards, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 April, 1745
William Strahan
Strahan, William



I wrote to you lately via New York, and sent a copy via Maryland, one or other of which I hope may come to hand. I have only time now to desire you to send me the following books, viz.:

  • 1 Doz. Cole’s English Dictionaries.
  • 3 Doz. Mather’s Young Man’s Companion.
  • 2 Doz. Fisher’s Young Man’s Companion.
  • 2 Quarter Waggoners for America.
  • 6 Echard’s Gazetteer.
  • 4 Doz. Grammars with Constitution Book.
  • 1 Doz. Clark’s Corderius.
  • 1 Doz. London Vocabulary.
  • 1 Doz. Bailey’s English Exercises.
  • 6 Clark’s Introduction.
  • 6 Esop’s Fables, Latin.
  • 1 Doz. Accidences.
  • 6 Brightland’s English Grammar.

I am, sir, your most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [232]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 April, 1745
William Strahan
Strahan, William

The above is a copy of mine per Capt. Martyn. I have only to desire you to add the following books: 6 French Testaments, 12 Boyer’s Grammar, 12 Cord. Colloqu., French, 3 Cambray’s Fables, 3 Telamaque, 2 Travels of Cyrus, French, 2 Boyer’s Dictionaries, 8vo, 1 New German and English Dictionary and Grammar, by Professor A. of Leipsig. Yours, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 December, 1745
William Strahan
Strahan, William



While the war continues, I find it will not answer to send for any considerable quantities of books, for that business, as well as others, grows duller daily, and people are unwilling to give the advanced prices we are now obliged to put on books, by the excessive charges of insurance, etc. So at present I only send for a few school books, and books of navigation, which they cannot do without.

I sent you, some time since, a bill for fifteen pounds and part of Mr. Hall’s bill, ten pounds, which I hope will come to hand and be readily paid. I purpose to send you another soon, and am, sir, your most humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—Our Library Company sends for about twenty pounds sterling worth of books yearly. Mr. Collinson does us the favor to buy them for us. Perhaps on your speaking to that gentleman, he would take them of you.

Edition: current; Page: [233]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 December, 1745
William Strahan
Strahan, William

The above is a copy of what I wrote you, per Mesnard, who sailed about ten days ago from this port. This goes per Capt. Hargrave, who is soon to sail from Maryland. Enclosed I send you a bill for £15 7s. 1d., which I hope will be readily paid. Enclosed is also a letter to Mr. Collinson, containing an order for books for the library, which, when you deliver, you will have an opportunity of proposing to furnish them. Please to add to the enclosed list the following books for me, viz.: Starkey’s Pyrotechny Assorted, an old book; 6 Echard’s Gazetteer, 6 Watts’ Lyric Poems, 6 Watts’ Logic, with Supplement; 1 Watts’ Essays; also 5 or 6 lbs. of long-primer fractions, i. e., to use with long primer in arithmetic work. Mr. Hall and all your friends here are well, as I hope this will find you [indistinct].

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 May, 1746
William Strahan
Strahan, William



This is only to enclose a third bill for £15 sterling, the second and first of which went from this port and Annapolis; and to desire you to send me two sets of Popple’s maps of North America, one bound, the other in sheets. They are for our Assembly, who also want the statutes at large; but as I hear they are risen to an extravagant price, I would have you send me word what they will cost before you send them. We are all well. Mr. Hall has not Edition: current; Page: [234] time to write, the post just going. I am, sir, your humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 September, 1746
William Strahan
Strahan, William



Your favors of February 11th and May 1st are come to hand. Mesnard arrived safe this morning, and I suppose I shall have the trunks out in a day or two. Our other ships, Lisle and Houston, not yet come, but daily expected. I am much obliged to you for your ready compliance with my requests. I sent you in the spring a bill on Messrs. Hoare and Arnold for £15, which I hope came to hand and was as readily paid as that on Geo. Rigge for £15 7s. 1d. I now send you the following bills, viz.:

£ s. d.
Jno. Denny’s for 3 5 7
Geo. Copper’s for 2 8 0
J. Bordley’s for 4 3 3
Ra. Page’s for 4 15 0
Sarah Gresham’s for 4 10 0
Jno. Bond’s for 13 17 9
£32 19 7

I wish the sum had been all in one bill, as the trouble to you would be less; but bills have been scarce lately, and we were glad to get any. I think, however, to send you no more such small ones.

Edition: current; Page: [235]

I shall, as you desire, deliver one of Ainsworth’s Dictionaries to Mr. Read. You will take the charge of it from my account and add it to his in your book.

Please to send me, per next vessel, 6 doz. of Dyche’s and as many of Owen’s Spelling Books, with a dozen of post horns of different sizes. I shall speedily send you another bill.

My wife joins with me in thanks to you and good Mrs. Strahan and young master, for your kindness to our daughter. She shall make her acknowledgments herself as soon as she is able.

I congratulate you on the defeat of Jacobitism by your glorious Duke, and the restoration of peace and good order within the kingdom. We have just now an account that a French fleet of thirty sail were lately seen off Cape Sable. They are supposed to be that from Brest. I hope they are followed by one of superior force from England, otherwise a great deal of mischief may be done in North America. Our friends, Messrs. Hall and Read continue well. I am, sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I am sorry it so happened that Mr. Collinson had bespoke the books. The next catalogue sent to him will be accompanied with a request from the directors that he purchase them of you only.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 January, 1746
William Strahan
Strahan, William

This is only to enclose a bill of exchange for £25 sterling, and wish good Mrs. Strahan, with Edition: current; Page: [236] your children, etc., many happy New Years. Mr. Hall continues well. We shall both write largely per Seymour. This via New York. I am, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 January, 1746
William Strahan
Strahan, William

I wrote to a line you some days since, via New York, enclosing a bill of £25 sterling; the second in a copy to go by some other vessel from that port; the third you have herein; together with a bill of £60 sterling, which I hope will be duly honored. My wife wrote to you per Mesnard for 6 Nelson’s Justice, 6 Dyche’s Dictionaries, 12 Cole’s English Ditto, 6 Female Fables, 6 Croxall’s Ditto, and Mrs. Rowe’s works complete. If not sent before, please add them to the within invoice, and send the whole per first ship; and also Lenery on Foods, and Dr. Moffat on Health. Please to deliver the enclosed procuration to Mr. Acworth with the bill. The books you sent per Mesnard turned out all right, and in good order, except that the Prayer-Books had all wrong psalms, the old version. I do not know if they will ever sell. The paper should not have been cut at the edges, being to be bound in account books. Our friends Hall and Read continue well. My wife joins me in best respects to Mrs. Strahan and yourself. She will write per Seymour, as will Mr. Hall. The Life of Du Renty, charged at 6s. per dozen, has Price, stitched, four-pence, under the title-page. Is there not a mistake in the charge? I am, sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [237]

Your government sent no fleet to protect us against the French under D’Anville. But they have been defeated by the hand of God.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
29 July, 1747
William Strahan
Strahan, William



Your favors of March 18th and April 1st are come to hand, with all the books, etc., mentioned in the invoice in good order, and am much obliged to you for your ready compliance with all my requests.

I believe I could have got subscriptions for twenty sets of the Universal History, and perhaps more; but unluckily a ship from Ireland has, since the receipt of your letter, brought in twenty sets complete, and they are offered at a lower rate than the English edition can be afforded at, even if I paid but 4s. per volume. I do what I can to lessen the credit of that piratical edition, and talk much of the improvements made in this; but that being to be had entire immediately, and this not till after many months, weighs a good deal with some; and others object, that it is to be apprehended the London booksellers will either curtail the folio edition greatly to save money, or put the subscribers at last to the expense of a greater number of volumes than twenty; seeing the volumes are much less than the Irish edition, the three first of the one containing but little more than the first of the other. If they think fit to venture a parcel here, Hall will do his best to dispose of them, and I will assist him what I can. They may send a parcel also Edition: current; Page: [238] to Mr. Parker, printer of New York, a very honest, punctual man.

I am glad all the bills I have sent you have been paid or accepted. You may expect more in a short time; and after the next parcel of books are paid for, you will chiefly have to deal with Mr. Hall, into whose hands I have agreed to put the shop, etc.

With all our best respects to you and yours, heartily wishing you health and happiness, I conclude your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 November, 1747
William Strahan
Strahan, William



I received your favor of June 11th, per Capt. Tiffin, with the books, etc., all in good order. Mr. Parks, who drew the bill on Guidart & Sons, is surprised at their protesting it, they having, as he says, large effects of his in their hands: he will speedily renew that bill. Enclosed I send a bill on Mr. Kilby, Esq., for £19 7s.d. sterling, which I hope will be readily paid; and you may expect other bills from me for larger sums. What books will be wanted for the shop hereafter, Mr. Hall will write for. I shall send for no more unless for myself or a friend. I must desire you to send per first opportunity the maps formerly wrote for, viz.: Popple’s large one of North America, pasted on rollers; Ditto bound in a book; and eight or ten other maps of equal size if to be had; they are for the long gallery and the Assembly room in the State-house. If none Edition: current; Page: [239] so large are to be got, let prospects of cities, buildings, etc., be pasted round them to make them as large. I want also Folard’s Polybius, in French; it is in six volumes, 4to, printed at Paris, and costs about three guineas. My best respects to good Mrs. Strahan; I know not but in another year I may have the pleasure of seeing you both in London. Please to deliver the enclosed to Mr. Acworth—I know not where to direct to him. I am, dear sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 October, 1748
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I received your favor of April 25th, with the maps, etc. I am glad the Polybius did not come, and hope you will not have sent it when this reaches your hands; it was intended for my son, who was then in the army and seemed bent on a military life, but as peace cuts off his prospect of advancement in that way, he will apply himself to other business. Enclosed I send you his certificate from the Governor of New York, by which he is entitled to £98 16s. 4d. sterling, being his pay; with a letter of attorney impowering you to receive it; I know not what the deductions will be at the pay office, but desire you will give my account credit for the net proceeds. I am in daily expectation of a bill from Virginia of £50, which I shall remit you towards the balance, and Mr. Hall will account with you for those things you have sent me that are put in his invoice. Edition: current; Page: [240] Our accounts agree, except that I have charged you £1 9s. 7d. for the Ainsworth sold James Read, the 6/7 being the proportion of charges on that book, and the bill on Geo. Rigge my account calls £15 7s. 11d., yours £15 7s. 1d., which is but a small variation; and I know not but yours may be right.

I have lately sent a printing-house to Antigua, by a very sober, honest, and diligent young man, who has already (as I am informed by divers hands) gained the friendship of the principal people, and is like to get into good business. This will open another market for your books if you think fit to use it; for I am persuaded that if you shall send him a parcel with any quantity of stationery he may write to you for, he will make you good and punctual returns. His name is Thomas Smith; he is the only printer on that island; had worked with me here, and in my printing-house in New York three or four years, and always behaved extremely well.

Mr. Thomas Osborne, bookseller, of London, is endeavoring to open a correspondence in the plantations for the sale of his books. He has accordingly sent several parcels, 1 to Mr. Parker of New York, 1 to Mr. Read here, and 1 to Mr. Parks in Virginia. I have seen the invoices to Parker and Read, and observe the books to be very high charged, so that I believe they will not sell. I recommended Parker to you for books, but he tells me he has wrote you several letters, and in two of them sent a guinea to purchase some small things, but never received any answer. Perhaps the guineas made the letters miscarry. He is a very honest, punctual man, and will Edition: current; Page: [241] be in the way of selling a great many books: I think you might find your account in writing to him: Mr. Read having left off bookselling, Osborne has wrote to me and desired me to take those books into my hands, proposing a correspondence, etc., but I have declined it in a letter per this ship.

My spouse will write to Mrs. Strahan, to whom my best respect. By this time twelvemonth, if nothing extraordinary happens to prevent it, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you both in London; being, with great esteem and affection, dear sir, your obliged friend and servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—You will find Mr. Geo. Smith, one of the witnesses to the power of attorney, at the Pennsylvania coffee-house. He goes over in this ship.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
23 November, 1748
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I have just time to acquaint you that yours per Cowie is this moment come to hand, with Mr. Read’s account, etc. I shall use my best endeavors to get your money, and am not without hopes of succeeding. I wrote you on the 19th past, and sent a power with the first of the enclosed certificates, which I hope will get safe to hand. You may depend on having the balance of my account in a few months. I am, sir, your obliged and humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [242]

I have desired Dr. Mitchell to pay you three guineas, being the price of a fireplace sent him for the Duke of Argyle.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 December, 1748
James Read
Read, James


Dear Sir:

’T is some time since I received a considerable account against you from England. An unwillingness to give you concern has hitherto prevented my mentioning it to you. By comparing the moderation and long forbearance toward you of Mr. Strahan, to whom you owe so much, with your treatment of an old friend in distress, bred up with you under the same roof, and who owes you so little, you may perceive how much you have misunderstood yourself. ’T is with regret I now acquaint you that (even while you were talking to me in that lofty strain yesterday concerning Mr. Grace) I had in my pocket the power of attorney to recover of you £131 16s. 4d. sterling, a balance long due. It will be your own fault if it comes to be known, for I have mentioned it to nobody. And I now ask you how you would in your own case like those petty pieces of practice you so highly contended for, of summoning a day only before the court, lest the cause should be made up, and fees thereby prevented; and of carrying on a suit privately against a man in another county than that in which he lives and may every day be found, getting a judgment by default, and taking him by surprise with an execution when he happens to come where you have sued Edition: current; Page: [243] him, etc., etc. I should be glad to have that account against my friend Grace, with all the little charges you have so cunningly accumulated on it, that I may communicate it to him; and doubt not but he will immediately order you payment. It appears not unlikely to me, that he may soon get through all his difficulties, and as I know him good-natured and benevolent to a high degree, so I believe he will be above resenting the ill-treatment he has received from some that are now so fond of insulting him, and from whom he might have expected better things. But I think you would do well not to treat others in the same manner, for fortune’s wheel is often turning, and all are not alike forgiving. I request, as soon as it suits your convenience, that you will take the proper measures with regard to Mr. Strahan’s account, and I am your humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
29 April, 1749
William Strahan
Strahan, William



I suppose Mr. Hall will acquaint you that I have settled with him for those things you sent me that were charged in his invoice. Enclosed are the following bills, viz.:

£ s. d.
Richard Graham’s, 22 0 9
James McNab’s 3 10 0
Hammond & Co. 2 13 7
Hammond & Co. 8 8 0
Hammond & Co. 9 0 0
£45 12 4
Edition: current; Page: [244]

which, with my son’s wages and a remittance I ordered you from the West Indies, and suppose may be in your hands before this time, will, I imagine, near balance our account.

In a former letter I promised to write you largely about your affairs with Mr. Read, and the measures taken to recover your money. Before I received your power of attorney and account there was a misunderstanding between us, occasioned by his endeavoring to get a small office from me (Clerk to the Assembly), which I took the more amiss, as we had always been good friends, and the office could not have been of much service to him, the salary being small, but valuable to me, as a means of securing the public business to our printing-house. So as we were not on speaking terms when your account came to hand, and the influence I had over him as a friend was become little or nothing, it was some time before I mentioned it to him. But at length the ice was broke in the following manner. I have a friend in the country that assisted me when I first set up, whose affairs have lately been in some disorder (occasioned chiefly by his too great good nature), his creditors coming at the same time in a crowd upon him. I had made up with several of them for him, but Mr. Read being employed in one small case (a debt of £12 only) carried on (by some contrivance in the law which I don’t understand) a private action against him, by summoning him in this county when he lives in another, and obtained a judgment against him without his or my knowing any thing of the matter; and then came to me, knowing I had a great Edition: current; Page: [245] affection for Mr. Grace, and in a very insulting manner asked: “What shall I do with your friend Grace? I have got a judgment against him, and must take out execution if the debt is not immediately satisfied,” etc. Upon enquiring into the matter and understanding how it had been carried on, I grew a little warm, blamed his practice as irregular and unfair, and his conduct towards Mr. Grace, to whom his father and family had been much obliged, as ungrateful; and said that since he looked on me as Mr. Grace’s friend he should have told me of the action before he commenced it, that I might have prevented it, and saved the charges arising on it, and his not doing so could be only from a view of the small fees it produced him, in carrying it through all the courts, etc. He justified his practice, and said it was legal and frequent, denied that his father or family were under any obligation to Mr. Grace; alleged that Grace had used him ill in employing another lawyer in some of his own actions, when at the same time he owed him near £5; and added haughtily that he was determined to sue Grace on his own account if not speedily paid, and, so saying, left me very abruptly. I thought this a good opportunity of introducing your affair, imagining that a consciousness of his ill behavior to me and my friend would pique him to make immediate payment. Accordingly I wrote him a letter the next day, of which I send you the rough draft enclosed, together with his answer; since which several other letters passed on the same subject of which I have no copies. All I insisted on, since he declared his Edition: current; Page: [246] inability to pay at present, was, that he should give you his bond, so that in case of his death you might come in for payment prior to common creditors, and that he should allow you interest from the time the money became due in the common course of payments. He agreed to give his bond, but it has been delayed from time to time till this day, when on my writing to him again to know what account I should send you, I received from him the enclosed billet, in which he refuses to allow interest for the time past. As he cannot be compelled to pay interest on a book account, I desired him then to fill up and execute a bond to you for the principal, and he might settle the affair of the interest with you hereafter. Accordingly he has just now done it, so that interest will arise for the time to come; but as he threatens to pay very speedily, and I am persuaded may easily do it by the help of his relations, who are wealthy, I hope you will not have much interest to receive. He has a great many good qualities for which I love him; but I believe he is, as you say, sometimes a little crazy. If the debt were to me I could not sue him; so I believe you will not desire me to do it for you; but he shall not want pressing (though I scarce ever dun for myself), because I think his relations may and will help him if properly applied to; and Mr. Hall thinks with me, that urging him frequently may make him more considerate, and induce him to abridge some of his unnecessary expenses. The bond is made payable in a month from the day; and, for your encouragement, I may add that notwithstanding what he affects to say of the Edition: current; Page: [247] badness of his circumstances, I look on the debt to be far from desperate.

Please to send me Chambers’ Dictionary, the best edition, and charge it in Mr. Hall’s invoice. My compliments to good Mrs. Strahan: my dame writes to her. I am, with great esteem and affection, dear sir, your most obliged friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
3 July, 1749
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I wrote to you very fully per Arthur concerning your affair with Mr. Read, and shall have nothing to add on that subject till I hear further from you. I acquainted you that he had given his bond for the balance due to you, and that I do not look on the debt as desperate.

Enclosed I send you several second bills, having sent the first per Arthur. I hope to hear per next ship that you have received my son’s pay, since I understand there was a Parliament in March last, for a sum to defray all the charges of the Canada expedition. If it should prove otherwise, I will send the balance from hence in the fall, and make you satisfaction for the delay and disappointment.

The Library Company send to Mr. Collinson by this ship for a parcel of books. I have recommended you to him on the occasion, and hope you will have the selling of them. If you should, and the Company judge your charges reasonable, I doubt not but you will keep their custom.

Edition: current; Page: [248]

I fear I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you this year, perhaps the next I may.

Please to send me a book lately advertised; I think it is called A Collection of Sentences, Wise Sayings, etc., by some officer about the Parliament House; his name I have forgot.

With all our best respects to you and yours, I am, dear sir, your most obliged friend and servant,

B. Franklin.

What is the price of printing paper in London?

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
23 October, 1749
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I hope before this can reach you your Parliament will have met and ordered payment of what has been so long due on account of the Canada expedition. In the settling our account I will make you a reasonable allowance for the disappointment occasioned by the delay of my son’s bill.

J. Read has removed into a house of less rent, which I was well pleased with. I have had no talk with him lately about your affairs, but still hope the best; and it shall not be long before I take an opportunity of urging him to discharge some part of the bond.

I am now engaged in a new public affair, as you will see by the enclosed, which I hope, with God’s blessing, will very soon be in good train. I have not laid aside my intention of seeing England, and believe shall execute it next year, if nothing extraordinary Edition: current; Page: [249] occurs, in which your conversation is not one of the least pleasures I propose to myself.

I hope this will find you and good Mrs. Strahan safe returned from your northern journey. I am just setting out on one, and have only time to add that I am, with great esteem and sincere affection, dear sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—Please to give my account credit for what you receive by the enclosed power of attorney, and let me know the sum, that I may pay the person here.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 February, 1750
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I wrote you per Capt. Budden, who sailed the beginning of December, and sent you a bill of exchange on Jonathan Gurnel & Co. for £50, and desired you to send one Viner’s Bacon and Danver’s Abridgments of the Law, with Wood’s and Coke’s Institutes. I have no copy of the letter, and forget whether I added the Complete Attorney, in six or eight volumes, 8vo, the precedents in English; please to send that also. I likewise desired you to enter my son’s name, William Franklin, in one of the Inns of Court as a student of law, which, I am told, costs between £5 and £6, and to let me know what time must expire before he can be called to the bar after such entry, because he intends to go to London a year or two before, to finish his studies. Edition: current; Page: [250] I hope that letter got to hand. I see they have printed a new translation of Tully on Old Age; please to send me one of them.

Mr. Hall continues well, and goes on perfectly to my satisfaction. My respects to Mrs. Strahan and Master Billy. I have not time to add but that I am with great esteem and affection, dear sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 June, 1750
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

The person from whom you had the power of attorney to receive a legacy, was born in Holland, and at first called Aletta Crell; but not being christened when the family came to live among the English in America, she was baptized by the name of Mary. This change of name probably might be unknown to the testator, as it happened in Carolina, and so the legacy might be left her by her first name Aletta. She has wrote it on a piece of paper, which I enclose, and desires you would take the trouble of acquainting the gentleman with these particulars, which she thinks may induce him to pay the money.

I am glad to understand by the papers that the Parliament has provided for paying off the debts due on the Canada expedition. I suppose my son’s pay is now in your hands. I am willing to allow 6 per cent. (the rate of interest here), for the delay; or more, if the disappointment has been a greater loss Edition: current; Page: [251] to you. I hope the £50 bill I lately sent you is come to hand and paid.

The description you give of the company and manner of living in Scotland would almost tempt one to remove thither. Your sentiments of the general foible of mankind in the pursuit of wealth to no end are expressed in a manner that gave me great pleasure in reading. They are extremely just; at least they are perfectly agreeable to mine. But London citizens, they say, are ambitious of what they call dying worth a great sum. The very notion seems to me absurd; and just the same as if a man should run in debt for 1,000 superfluities, to the end that when he should be stripped of all, and imprisoned by his creditors, it might be said, he broke worth a great sum. I imagine that what we have above what we can use, is not properly ours, though we possess it; and that the rich man who must die, was no more worth what he leaves, than the debtor who must pay.

I am glad to hear so good a character of my son-in-law. Please to acquaint him that his spouse grows finely and will probably have an agreeable person. That with the best natural disposition in the world, she discovers daily the seeds and tokens of industry, economy, and, in short, of every female virtue, which her parents will endeavor to cultivate for him; and if the success answer their fond wishes and expectations, she will, in the true sense of the word, be worth a great deal of money, and consequently a great fortune.1

Edition: current; Page: [252]

I suppose my wife writes to Mrs. Strahan. Our friend, Mr. Hall, is well, and manages perfectly to my satisfaction. I cannot tell how to accept your repeated thanks for services you think I have done to him, when I continually feel myself obliged to him, and to you for sending him. I sincerely wish all happiness to you and yours, and, am dear sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 June, 1751
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I received yours of March 26th, with the books per Smith, in good order; and your account, which agrees with mine, except in a trifle, the share of the charges on Ainsworth carried to J. Read’s account. I am concerned at your lying so long out of your money, and must think of some way of making you amends. I have wrote to Smith at Antigua to quicken him in discharging his debt to you. I purpose, God willing, to go over with my son as soon as it becomes necessary for him to go,1 when I hope to have the pleasure of finding you and yours well and happy. In the parcel of books I had from you, 1747 (I think the last parcel), there were a number of law books. When I quitted the shop to Mr. Hall, they were left in his hands for sale, the person who had ordered them not taking them. Now we have lost or mislaid the invoice between us, and Edition: current; Page: [253] cannot settle for those books without your help. I must therefore beg the favor of you to send me a copy of that invoice, so far as relates to the law books. Please also to send me the last three volumes of the 8vo. Universal History to complete my set, bound in boards, covered with blue paper. My wife and children join in the most affectionate regards to you, Mrs. Strahan, and family, with, dear sir, your most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 July, 1751
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

This serves to cover the enclosed and recommend the affair to your care. I have assured the gentlemen concerned that you will serve them as well and cheap as any bookseller in London. They are men of ability, and will be constant customers.

We are all well, and join in the most cordial salutations to you, Mrs. Strahan, and your children. I am, dear sir, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 September, 1751
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

My daughter received her books all in good order, and thanks you for your kind care in sending them. Enclosed is a second bill for £20 sterling; the first went per Mesnard.

There is a little book on the game of chess, by Edition: current; Page: [254] Philip Stamona, printed for J. Brindley, 1745; if to be had, please to send it to me, with the remaining volumes of Viner as fast as they are published.

We are all well, and join in affectionate regards to you, Mrs. Strahan, and your children. I am, dear sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
24 December, 1751
William Strahan
Strahan, William



I am ordered by my Master to write for him Books for Sally Franklin. I am in Hopes Shee will be abel to write for herselfe by the Spring.

  • 8 Sets of the Preceptor best Edit.
  • 8 Doz. of Croxall’s Fables.
  • 3 Doz. of B. Kenns Manual for Winchester School.
  • 1 Doz. Familiar Forms, Latin and Eng.

Ainsworth’s Dictionaries, 4 best Edit.

  • 2 Doz. of select Tales and Fables.
  • 2 Doz. Costalio’s Test.

Cole’s Dictionarys Latin and Eng. 6 a half Doz.

  • 3 Doz. of Clarke’s Cordery 1 Boyle’s Pliny 2 Vols. 8vo.
  • 6 Sets of Nature displayed in 7 Vols. 12mo.

one good Quorto Bibel with Cudes bound in Calfe.

1 Peurilia. 1 Art of making Common Salt By Browning.

my Dafter gives her duty to Mr. Stroyhan and his Lady, and her Compliments to Master Billy and all his brothers and Sisters. my Son is gon to Boston on a visit to his Friends I suppose Mr. Franklin will Edition: current; Page: [255] write himself. Mr. and Mis Hall air verey well thay have lost thair other Child She lays in this Winter. My Complyments to Mr. Strahan and all your dear little Family. I am dear Madam,

Your humbel Servant.
Deborah Franklin.

Enclosed is a bill on Mr. Richard Manley for £30 Barbadoes currency. On the ’Change you will easily learn its sterling value. If Mr. Manley refuses to pay it, give his letter to Mr. David Barclay,1 who has a power from Mrs. Middleton and will compel him.2

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 February, 1752
Jared Eliot
Eliot, Jared


Dear Sir:

I received your favor by my son, and return my thanks for your kind entertainment of him at your house. I delivered yours to my friend Bartram, and enclose to you his answer. He is much pleased with the prospect of a continued correspondence with you. He is a man of no letters, but a curious observer of nature.

I like very well the paragraph you propose to insert concerning Mr. Jackson’s papers; except the last line, to wit., “The improvement of it must be deferred till another year”; instead of which I would say: “It cannot now be inserted, but shall be in our next.” My reasons are that I think, in the first Edition: current; Page: [256] place, your essays ought to be more frequent than once a year; next, that it is a pity, if Mr. Jackson’s papers would be advantageous to the public, a whole year’s benefit of them should be lost; thirdly, he will be at a loss to know why, since your essay was not quite finished and published, his papers might not as well have been added now; and, indeed, I think you had best add them, unless you intend speedily another essay. Lastly, I object to the word improvement, which, in the sense you use it, is peculiar to New England, and will not be understood elsewhere. It will look as if you proposed to alter it for the better, correct, or amend it, such being the common meaning of the word improve.

Every colony has some peculiar expressions, familiar to its own people, but strange and unintelligible to others. This is not to be wondered at, since the same may be observed in the different counties of England. I know you will excuse this freedom, and that I need make no apology for it. I am, with great respect, dear sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
21 March, 1752
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I wrote to you in the winter via New York, for a few books, and sent a bill of £30 Barbadoes currency. The first is enclosed. I hope it came to hand in time enough for you to meet with the gentleman and get the money. He is captain of the ship, and was to be found at the New England Edition: current; Page: [257] coffee-house, but probably may be gone before you receive this. They were mostly school books and I have mislaid the original list, so cannot send a copy.

The books for the Trenton Library arrived safe, and I believe gave satisfaction.

I want yet Vol. 17 of the Universal History in blue covers, to complete set.

My wife and children join in sincerest wishes of happiness to you and yours, with, dear sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 August, 1752
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I wrote to you on the 20th of June per Mr. Sterling (who I hope is by this time safe arrived in England) and sent you a bill of £50 sterling, with a list of books to be procured for our library. Enclosed is a copy of the second bill.

I wrote at the same time for a pair of globes of six or eight guineas price; a concave mirror of twelve inches diameter and a large Popple’s map; sent you nine guineas, and promised a bill per next ship, which I now accordingly send. It is £20 sterling drawn by Mary Stevens on Alexr. Grant, Esq. When paid please to credit my account with it.

I have only the first volume of Bower’s History of ye Popes. I hear a second is published; please to send it bound, dark sprinkled, filleted, and lettered.

Edition: current; Page: [258]

I wrote you a few days since, recommending to your notice an old acquaintance, who is bound home from Maryland to obtain holy orders. His name, Matthias Harris. Any civilities you show him, as he will be an entire stranger in London, I shall gratefully acknowledge. Only I ought to acquaint you that he has always had a strong penchant to the buying of books, and that some late misfortunes have rendered it more inconvenient to him to gratify that taste than it has been heretofore.

My wife, son, and daughter desire to be respectfully remembered to you, Mrs. Strahan, and Master Billy. I am, dear sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 December, 1752
John Franklin
Franklin, John


Dear Brother:

Reflecting yesterday on your desire to have a flexible catheter, a thought struck into my mind, how one might probably be made; and lest you should not readily conceive it by any description of mine, I went immediately to the silversmith’s and gave directions for making one (sitting by till it was finished) that it might be ready for this post. But now it is done I have some apprehensions that it may be too large to be easy; if so a silversmith can easily make it less by twisting or turning it on a smaller wire, and putting a smaller pipe to the end, if the pipe be really necessary. This machine Edition: current; Page: [259] may either be covered with small fine gut, first cleaned and soaked a night in a solution of alum and salt and water, then rubbed dry, which will preserve it longer from putrefaction; then wet again and drawn on and tied to the pipes at each end, where little hollows are made for the thread to bind in and the surface greased. Or perhaps it may be used without the gut, having only a little tallow rubbed over it, to smooth it and fill the joints. I think it is as flexible as would be expected in a thing of the kind, and I imagine will readily comply with the terms of the passage, yet has stiffness enough to be protruded; if not, the enclosed wire may be used to stiffen the hinder part of the pipe while the fore part is pushed forward, and as it proceeds the wire may be gradually withdrawn. The tube is of such a nature, that when you have occasion to withdraw it its diameter will lessen, whereby it will move more easily. It is a kind of screw and may be both withdrawn and introduced by turning. Experience is necessary for the right using of all new tools or instruments, and that will perhaps suggest some improvements to this instrument as well as better direct the manner of using it.

I have read Whytt on lime-water. You desire my thoughts on what he says. But what can I say? He relates facts and experiments, and they must be allowed good, if not contradicted by other facts and experiments. May not one guess, by holding lime-water some time in one’s mouth, whether it is likely to injure the bladder?

I know not what to advise, either as to the injection Edition: current; Page: [260] or the operation. I can only pray God to direct you for the best and to grant success.

I am, my dear brother, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.1

I found Whytt’s experiments are approved and recommended by Dr. Mead.

Dear Brother:—With regard to our father’s estate I can only so far inform you that the household stuff as sold at vendue amounted to a little more than $400 but the house and land was apprised at $2,000.2

Edition: current; Page: [261]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 May, 1753
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I have your favor of January 30th, and thank you for the civility shown, on my recommendation, to Mr. Harris. What you mention concerning the books was not at all amiss.

Neither the second volume of Bower’s History of the Popes, nor Delaresse’s Art of Painting, nor Crito, are to be found in any of Mr. Hall’s trunks.

I have settled a nephew of mine1 in Antigua, in the place of Mr. Smith, deceased. I take him to be a very honest, industrious lad, and hope he will do well there, and in time be of some use to you as a correspondent. Please to send him a little cargo of books and stationery agreeable to the invoice below. I will send you a bill on this account perhaps per next ship.

Please to send my compliments to Mrs. Strahan and Master Billy. I am, sir, your obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin.
  • 3 ream propatria, best cut.
  • 2 ream propatria, pot.
  • 1 ream propatria, fine post.
  • 500 best quills.
  • 3 doz. British ink powder.
  • 2 lb. wafers, some large.
  • 1 doz. common Bibles.
  • 1 doz. Testaments.
  • 1 doz. Psalters.
  • 2 doz. Primers.
Edition: current; Page: [262]

And a few of your newest and most salable books, amounting in the whole to about £25 sterling.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 June, 1753
William Strahan
Strahan, William

The above is a copy of mine per Reeves. This is only to request you would send me here the quarto abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions, except the first five volumes, which I have. Send me also Fielding’s Proposals for Employing the Poor. In haste, I am yours,

B. Franklin.

The five volumes of Transactions I have, are abridged by Lowthrop and Jones. All well. Mr. Hall out of town.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 October, 1753
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I have your favor of June 27th, and am quite surprised at the conduct of Mr. Harris. He is returned to Maryland, as I hear, a parson.

I have now received Bower’s second volume, and shall send to the Trenton Library to enquire after Crito and Delaresse.

The sum was £25 to which I limited the books, etc., to be sent my nephew, Benjamin Mecom. But if you have sent to the amount of £30, it is not amiss.

I am now about to establish a small printing-office in favor of another nephew, at New Haven, in the Edition: current; Page: [263] Colony of Connecticut, in New England; a considerable town, in which there is a university, and a prospect that a bookseller’s shop, with a printing-house, may do pretty well. I would therefore request you to bespeak for me of Mr. Carlon, viz.:

300 lbs. long primer, with figures and signs sufficient for an almanac.

300 lbs. pica. } Roman and Italic.
100 lbs. great primer. }
300 lbs. English. }
60 lbs. double pica. }
50 lbs. two-line English. }
40 lbs. two-line great primer. }
30 lbs. two-line capitals and flowers of different fonts.
20 lbs. quotations.

As Mr. Carlon has different long primers, picas, etc., I beg the favor of your judgment to choose and order the best.

To which add:

A complete good new press.

  • 2 pair blankets.
  • 2 pair ballstocks.

Some reglets, gutter-sticks, side-sticks, quoins, etc.

  • 3 pair chases, of different sizes; the biggest, demi.
  • 2 folio galleys, each with four shies.
  • 4 quarto galleys.

A few facs, head and tail pieces; three or four of each.

  • 2 doz. brass rules.
  • 2 good composing-sticks.
  • 2 kegs of ink; one weak, the other strong.
Edition: current; Page: [264]

With such another small cargo of books and stationery as I desired you to send to Antigua for a beginning.

Mesnard sails in a week or two, by whom I shall send you bills for £100 sterling. But desire you would immediately on receipt of this, bespeak the letter, etc., that we may not be disappointed of having them per first ship to New Haven or New York in the spring. If sent to New Haven, direct them to the care of Mr. Thomas Darling, merchant there. If no vessel to New Haven, then to New York, to the care of Mr. Parker, printer.

Insure the whole.

The furniture may be packed in the large case that contains the press.

If you can persuade your press-maker to go out of his old road a little, I would have the ribs made not with the face rounding outwards, as usual, but a little hollow or rounding inwards from end to end; and the cramps made of hard cast brass, fixed not across the ribs, but longways, so as to slide in the hollow face of the ribs. The reason is, that brass and iron work better together than iron and iron. Such a press never gravels; the hollow face of the ribs keeps the oil better, and the cramps, bearing on a larger surface, do not wear, as in the common method. Of this I have had many years’ experience.

I need not desire you to agree with the workmen on the most reasonable terms you can; and as this affair will give you trouble, pray charge commission. I shall not think myself a whit the less obliged.

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My compliments to Mrs. Strahan, Master Billy, etc., in which my wife and children join with, dear sir, your most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
18 April, 1754
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

By Capt. Gibbon I received a copy of yours per the Myrtilla, but she is not yet arrived. I am glad to hear the bills I sent you for £100 sterling are accepted, and that the goods were to be shipped soon for Connecticut. Bryant is arrived in New York, who left London the middle of March. I have not heard whether he has brought them. I now enclose you a bill for £20 sterling, drawn by Mr. Stevens, on Alexander Grant, merchant, London; and what balance may remain unpaid I will send as soon as I can know it.

I am glad you have sent again the things that were shipped on the Davis. As to that loss, give yourself no concern about it. It is mine, and but a trifle. I do not know or regard what the custom of merchants may be in such cases; but when I reflect how much trouble I have given you from time to time in my little affairs, that you never charged me commissions, and have frequently been in advance for me, were the loss much greater, be sure I should not suffer it to fall on you.

Benjamin Mecom writes me that he has remitted you £30 sterling, which I am pleased to hear. And am glad you have not sent him the great parcel of Edition: current; Page: [266] books which you mention he has wrote for. He is a young lad, quite unacquainted with the world, and, I fear, would be much embarrassed if he went suddenly into dealings too deep for his stock. The people of those islands might buy his books; but I know they are very dull pay, and he would find it impracticable to collect the money when it ought to be sent you. Pray keep him within bounds; let him have good salable sortments, but small, and do not suffer him to be more than £50 in your debt, if so much; it is best for him to proceed gradually, and to deal more as his stock and experience increases. I am thankful to you for prudently delaying to send what he indiscreetly wrote for, till you had advised me of it. Our compliments to Mrs. Strahan and your children. I am, with great esteem, dear sir, your most humble servant,

B. Franklin.

Please to send me the Philosophical Transactions from the end of Martin’s Abridgment, 1744, to the present time. I suppose they are not abridged. Send them large as they came out; also Dampier’s Voyage, 4 vols., 8vo.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 April, 1754
William Strahan
Strahan, William
Dear Sir:

The above is a copy of mine per Reeve. Two ships are since arrived in New York, but I hear nothing yet of the things expected, though possibly they may be come. I enclose Mr. Steven’s second bill for £20 sterling.

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Please to send the following books, viz.:

2 Familiar Letters, by Charles Halifax. 12mo. Baldwin.

2 Nelson on the Government of Children. 8vo. Dodsley.

3 Treatise on Cider-Making. Cave.

Letters from a Russian Officer, with Some Observations by Arthur Dobbs, Esq. Linde.

The Nutcracker, by F. Foot, Esq. Cooper.

The Book of Conversation and Behavior. Griffiths.

Seed’s Sermons.

Mother Midnight’s Works complete, 3 vols. Carman.

Matho, 2 vols., 8vo.

I am, dear sir, very affectionately, your most humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I am not certain whether I before wrote you the following, viz.:

2 Green’s Maps of America.

Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion, by Ramsey.

Astronomical Rotula, a print per Ferguson.

2 Fry and Jefferson’s Maps of Virginia, Maryland, etc.

I now enclose Mr. Steven’s second bill.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 October, 1755
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

Mr. Hall has wrote to you for a fount of English and a fount with a long-primer face on a Edition: current; Page: [268] smaller body, for the Gazette on my account. Enclosed is a bill for £109 8s. 4d. sterling, drawn on the Rev. Mr. Saml. Chandler, which I doubt not will be readily paid. I know not well how my account stands with you, and should be glad to see it, but suppose this bill will leave a balance in your hands after paying for those founts, so have taken the freedom to draw a small bill on you, payable to Nathl. Voogdt & Co., Merchants, London, for £2 17s. 6d. sterling, which they are to remit to Germany on a particular occasion.

My compliments to Mrs. Strahan, and to your promising son, perhaps one day mine. God send our children good and suitable matches, for I begin to feel a parent’s cares in that respect, and fondly wish to see them well settled before I leave them.

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me to be yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—The enclosed pamphlet is lately printed in Boston. You will find a number of interesting facts in it. At the end a little piece of mine.

[Endorsed in pencil in Franklin’s handwriting]

Observations on the late and present conduct of the French with regard to their encroachments upon the British colonies in North America. Together with remarks on the importance of those colonies to Great Britain, by William Clarke.

To which are added by another hand, “Observations concerning the increase of mankind, peopling of colonies,” etc.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 November, 1755
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I have yours of October 3d; Bolitha being just arrived, the things not yet come on shore.

By the account sent I find I was then £59 4s. 6d. sterling in your debt. I hope you have since received the bills I sent you per Joy & Budden for £109 8s. 4d. sterling, which will leave a balance in my favor.

I do not at all approve of B. Mecom’s being so much in your debt, and shall write to him about it. The people of those islands expect a great deal of credit, and when the books are out of his hands, if he should die, half would not be collected. This I have learned by experience in the case of poor Smith, whom I first settled there. I am glad, therefore, that you declined sending him the other things he wrote for. Pray write to him for the pay and make him keep touch; that will oblige him to dun quick and get in his debts; otherwise he may hurt himself, and you in the end. Remember I give you this caution and that you venture on your own risk.

I shall be glad to be of any service to you in the affair you mention relating to the Gentleman’s Magazine, and our daughter (who already trades a little in London) is willing to undertake the distributing of them per post from this place, hoping it may produce some profit to herself. I will immediately cause advertisements to be printed in the papers here, at New York, New Haven, and Boston, recommending that magazine and proposing to supply all who will Edition: current; Page: [270] subscribe for them at 13s. this currency, a year, the subscribers paying down the money for one year beforehand; for otherwise there will be a considerable loss by bad debts. As soon as I find out what the subscription will produce I shall know what number to send for. Most of those for New England must be sent to Boston. Those for New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland must be sent to New York or Philadelphia, as opportunities offer to one place or the other. As to Virginia, I believe it will scarce be worth while to propose it there, the gentlemen being generally furnished with them by their correspondents in London. Those who incline to continue, must pay for the second year three months before the first expires, and so on from time to time. The postmaster in those places to take in the subscription money and distribute the magazines, etc. These are my first thoughts. I shall write further. That magazine has always been, in my opinion, by far the best. I think it never wants matter, both entertaining and instructive, or I might now and then furnish you with some little pieces from this part of the world.

My wife and daughter join in sincerest good wishes of prosperity to you and all yours, with, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.

My respects to Mr. Newberry, of whom you give so amiable a character.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 July, 1756
New York
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

Being here I take this opportunity of the pacquet boat to write you a line, acknowledging the receipt of your favor of March 13th, and of the brevier fount, which is come to hand in good order, and pleases Mr. Hall and me very much. I am much indebted to you for your care in that matter, as well as many others. I think our account now stands thus:

£ s. d. £ s. d.
Oct. 3. To bal. of acct. to this day 59 4 Mar. 13. By bill on Dr. Chandler. 109 8 4
1756. Bal. due W. S. 11 10
Mar. 13. To bill paid Mr. Voogdt 2 17 6
To fount of brevier
58 17 6
120 19 120 19

My nephew, B. Mecom, finding that the business did not answer to his mind in Antigua, has determined to quit the place, and has accordingly sent home to me the press and letters. He writes me that he has lately sent you a bill for £100 sterling, and being now employed only in collecting his debts, he hopes soon to send you a bill for the balance of your account, about £50 more. As the £40 bill you received of me in November, 1753, was only lent to his account, and he will now pay his whole balance without reckoning that £20, you will please to take it back to my account when he has settled Edition: current; Page: [272] and paid off his; whereby a balance will remain in my favor. But, in the meantime, lest that should not be so soon done as he proposes, that you may not be longer in advance for me, I enclose a little bill on Mr. Collinson, for £11 10s.d. the balance due to you, but desire you would not forget to take back the £20 into your hands for me, when you settle finally with B. Mecom, who writes me that he proposes going for England this present July.

You judge rightly that my many employments and journeys of late have prevented my carrying into execution the proposed scheme of circulating your magazine. But I think now to write to the postmaster as soon as I get home, and order the advertisements into the papers. With the greatest respect and esteem, I am, dear sir, your obliged and most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 July, 1756
New York
William Strahan
Strahan, William
Dear Sir:

The above is a copy of my last. Since which I have received from Philadelphia one of our newspapers, printed on the new letter you sent us, and find that it is not a brevier body, but larger, and is really and truly no other than the burgeois, No. 1 of Carlon’s specimen now lying before me, which burgeois is marked by a pen with his own hand, Price 2s. So that the charging it as brevier at 2s. 6d. is an imposition of twenty-five per cent., which is too much to bear, and, therefore, I do insist on his Edition: current; Page: [273] doing me justice, and refunding the additional sixpences; or he will forfeit the character he always bore with me, that of an honest man. I enclose you a piece of the newspaper for your satisfaction. Compare it with his specimen, and you will find what I say precisely true. The sum to be returned is £11 15s. 6d., for which when received please give to my account credit.

Lord Loudon arrived last week. I have had the honor of several conferences with him on our American affairs, and am extremely pleased with him. I think there cannot be a fitter person for the service he is engaged in.

I propose to return to-morrow to Philadelphia, where I hope things will soon be on a better footing, as we expect a new governor, of whom we hear a good character.

My best compliments to Mrs. Strahan and your children. I am, dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—Since my last I have a letter from B. Mecom, who writes that he has sent you a £60 bill. I send a whole newspaper instead of the piece mentioned above, as there is some news in it.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 December, 1756
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

This serves only to cover a bill of exchange, drawn by B. Mecom on you, upon a supposition that you have received bills he sent you from Edition: current; Page: [274] Antigua for about £120 more than the balance of your account. If those bills are not come to hand, or not paid, you need not be at the trouble of protesting this bill, but let it lie in your hands till you hear farther from me. If those bills are paid, then please to carry this £100 to my account. B. Mecom has settled honorably with me, and bought my old printing-house that he had at Antigua. He wants some new letter which he now writes for. Lest his bills above mentioned should fail, I have given him a draft on my friend Collinson for £50 sterling, which he now sends to you. He purposes to set up in Boston. My respects affectionately to you and yours, particularly my son Billy. It gives me great pleasure to learn by your last that he is become so capable of business. I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 January, 1757
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Sir:

I wrote you a line or two yesterday, enclosing B. Mecom’s second bill for £100 sterling, drawn on you upon presumption that you had received some bills, he had sent you, to the amount of £120 more than the balance of his account. He has settled honorably with me and bought the old Antigua office of me, and is gone to Boston to set up his business there among his friends and relations, and has wrote to you to purchase him two new founts, one of long primer and one of pica, for which I have furnished him with a bill on Mr. Collinson Edition: current; Page: [275] for £50, lest you should not have received his money. I now send B. Mecom’s third bill. If you are not in cash for him you need not be at the charge or trouble of protesting it, but only acquaint me. If you are, carry it to the credit of my account. I wish you and yours many happy New Years, being, dear sir, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 January, 1757
William Strahan
Strahan, William
Dear Sir:

The above is a copy of my last. I have now before me your favor of September 11th. I shall not fail on every occasion to recommend you to my friends on the book account. I wish I could give you any hopes of soon receiving your debt of J. Read. Mr. Hall, no doubt, writes you more fully concerning him. It gives me great pleasure to hear so good an account of our son Billy. In return, let me tell you that our daughter Sally is indeed a very good girl, affectionate, dutiful, and industrious, has one of the best hearts, and though not a wit, is, for one of her years, by no means deficient in understanding. She already takes off part of her mother’s family cares. This must give you and Mrs. Strahan pleasure. So that account is partly balanced.

Our Assembly talk of sending me to England speedily. Then look out sharp, and if a fat old fellow should come to your printing-house and request a little smouting, depend upon it ’t is your affectionate friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I enclose B. Mecom’s first bill for £100 sterling, the 2d and 3d sent before.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Oh! My Dear Friend:

I never was more surprised than on reading your note. I grieve for you, for Mrs. Strahan, for Mr. Johnston, for the little ones, and your whole family. The loss is indeed a great one. She was every thing that one could wish in every relation. I do not offer you the common topics of consolation. I know by experience how little they avail, that the natural affections must have their course, and that the best remedy for grief is time. Mrs. Stevenson joins her tears with mine. God comfort you all. Yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 June, 1759
William Heberden
Heberden, William


Craven Street,

I now return the smallest of your two tourmalins, with hearty thanks for your kind present of the other, which though I value highly for its rare and wonderful properties, I shall ever esteem it more for the friendship I am honored with by the giver.

I hear that the negative electricity of one side of the tourmalin, when heated, is absolutely denied (and what has been related of it, ascribed to prejudice in favor of a system) by some ingenious gentlemen abroad, who profess to have made the experiments on the stone with care and exactness. The experiments have succeeded differently with me; yet I would not call the accuracy of those gentlemen in question. Possibly the tourmalins they have tried Edition: current; Page: [277] were not properly cut; so that the positive and negative powers were obliquely placed, or in some manner whereby their effects were confused, or the negative parts more easily supplied by the positive. Perhaps the lapidaries, who have hitherto cut these stones, had no regard to the situation of the two powers, but chose to make the faces of the stone where they could obtain the greatest breadth, or some other advantage in the form. If any of these stones, in their natural state, can be procured here, I think it would be right to endeavor finding, before they are cut, the two sides that contain the opposite powers, and make the faces there. Possibly, in that case, the effects might be stronger and more distinct; for, though both these stones that I have examined have evidently the two properties, yet without the full heat given by boiling water, they are somewhat confused; the virtue seems strongest towards one end of the face and in the middle or near the other end, scarce discernible; and the negative, I think, always weaker than the positive.

I have had the large one new cut so as to make both sides alike and find the change of form has made no change as I found them before. It is now set in a ring in such a manner as to turn on an axis, that I may conveniently, in making experiments, come at both sides of the stone. The little rim of gold it is set in, has made no alteration in its effects. The warmth of my finger, when I wear it, is sufficient to give it some degree of electricity, so that it is always ready to attract light bodies.

The following experiments have satisfied me that Edition: current; Page: [278] M. Epinus’ account of the positive and negative states of the opposite sides of the heated tourmalin is well founded.

I heated the large stone in boiling water.

As soon as it was dry I brought it near a very small cork ball that was suspended by a silk thread.

The ball was attracted by one face of the stone, which I call A, and then repelled.

The ball in that state was also repelled by the positively charged wire of a phial, and attracted by the other side of the stone B.

The stone being fresh heated and the side B brought near the ball, it was first attracted, and presently after repelled, by that side.

In this second state it was repelled by the negatively charged wire of a phial.

Therefore if the principles now generally received, relating to positive and negative electricity, are true, the side A of the large stone, when the stone is heated in water, is in a positive state of electricity, and the side B in a negative state.

The same experiments being made with the small stone with sealing-wax, the same effects are produced. The flat side of the small stone gives the signs of positive electricity; the high side gives the signs of negative electricity.


  • I suspended the small stone by a silk thread.
  • I heated it, as it hung, in boiling water.
  • I heated the large one in boiling water.

Then I brought the large stone near to the suspended small one;

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Which immediately turned its flat side to the side B of the large stone, and would cling to it.

I turned the ring, so as to present the side A of the large stone to the flat side of the small one.

The flat side was repelled, and the small stone, turning quick, applied its high side to the side A of the large one.

This was precisely what ought to happen on the supposition that the flat side of the small stone, when heated in water, is positive, and the high side negative; the side A of the large stone positive, and the side B negative.

The effect was apparently the same as would have been produced if one magnet had been suspended by a thread and the different poles of another brought alternately near it.

I find that the face A of the large stone, being coated with leaf gold (attached by the white of an egg, which will bear dipping in hot water), becomes quicker and stronger in its effect on the cork ball, repelling it the instant it comes in contact; which I suppose to be occasioned by the united force of different parts of the face collected and acting together through the metal. I am, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 August, 1761
Mary Stevenson
Stevenson, Mary


Craven Street,

We are to set out this week for Holland, where we may possibly spend a month, but purpose to be at home again before the coronation. I could not go Edition: current; Page: [280] without taking leave of you by a line at least, when I am so many letters in your debt.

In yours of May 19th, which I have before me, you speak of the ease with which salt water may be made fresh by distillation, supposing it to be, as I had said, that in evaporation the air would take up water, but not the salt that was mixed with it. It is true that distilled sea water will not be salt, but there are other disagreeable qualities that rise with the water in distillation, which indeed several besides Dr. Hales have endeavored by some means to prevent, but as yet their methods have not been brought much into use. I have a singular opinion on this subject, which I will venture to communicate to you, though I doubt [not] you will rank it among my whims. It is certain that the skin has imbibing as well as discharging pores; witness the effects of a blistering-plaster, etc. I have read that a man, hired by a physician to stand by way of experiment in the open air, naked, during a moist night, weighed near three pounds heavier in the morning. I have often observed myself, that however thirsty I may have been before going into the water to swim, I am never long so in the water. These imbibing pores, however, are very fine, perhaps fine enough in filtering to separate salt from water; for, though I have soaked (by swimming, when a boy) several hours in the day for several days successively in salt water, I never found my blood and jucies salted by that means, so as to make me thirsty, or feel a salt taste in my mouth; and it is remarkable that the flesh of sea fish, though bred in salt water, is not salt.

Edition: current; Page: [281]

Hence I imagine that if people at sea, distressed by thirst when their fresh water is unfortunately spent, would make bathing-tubs of their empty water-casks, and filling them with sea water sit in them an hour or two each day, they might be greatly relieved. Perhaps keeping their clothes constantly wet might have an almost equal effect, and this without danger of catching cold. Men do not catch cold by wet clothes at sea. Damp, but not wet, linen may possibly give colds; but no one catches cold by bathing, and no clothes can be wetter than water itself. Why damp clothes should then occasion colds is a curious question, the discussion of which I reserve for a future letter, or some future conversation.

Adieu, my little philosopher. Present my respectful compliments to the good ladies, your aunts, and to Miss Pitt; and believe me ever your affectionate friend, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
30 March, 1762

TO REV. M ———

Rev’d Sir:

I am favored with yours of the 27th instant, enclosing a bank note of £20, which makes £70 now repaid by Overal. I acquainted you in mine by last Saturday’s post that I had reason to think the whole sum to be repaid would not be so great as I before computed it, and perhaps not exceed £79 or £80. It will be a pleasure to me to find it so, that I may have no occasion to have recourse to the law, which is so disagreeable a thing to me, Edition: current; Page: [282] that through the whole course of my life I have never entered an action against any man. But I own I was not a little provoked with these people, as I concluded they must certainly have known of the mortgage (and indeed the letters they have since produced show that they did, particularly the last you mentioned of December 28, 1756); and yet when I asked them if there was no mortgage or other incumbrance on the estate, the man said none that he knew or had ever heard of; and the woman added: “And to be sure, if there had been any such thing in so long a time as we have received the rent, we must have heard of it.” There was such an apparent simplicity in their manner, and they answered with such readiness and confidence, that I was perfectly satisfied; and therefore the more surprised and chagrined when I afterwards found how easily I had been imposed on. They likewise had instructed Mr. Winterbottom to assure the purchaser (as he did me) that the house had lately undergone a thorough repair, whereas Spofford in his letter had informed them “it will soon want a great deal of repair.” I think with you that they are weak and foolish people; but there seems no small mixture of knavery with their folly. I likewise imagined, as you do, that they were but little accustomed to money, from some conversation between them when they were about to receive it. The man said he had been bred to a trade, but that he never liked to work at it. “Well, my dear,” says she, “you know you will now have no occasion ever to work any more.” They seemed to think it so great a sum that it could never be spent.

Edition: current; Page: [283]

I am very sensible, sir, that this must have been a disagreeable affair to you, and I am the more obliged. The very [mutilated] and generous manner in which you have executed it will ever demand my thankful acknowledgment, which I beg you to accept, and believe me, with the sincerest esteem and respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 June [probably 1762]
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Mr. Franklin’s compliments to Mr. Strahan, and out of pure kindness to him offers him an opportunity of exercising his benevolence as a man and his charity as a Christian. One Spencer, formerly a merchant of figure and credit in North America, being by various misfortunes reduced to poverty, is here in great distress, and would be made happy by any employment that would only enable him to eat, which he looks as if he had not done for some time. He is well acquainted with accounts, and writes a very fair hand, as Mr. S—— may see by the enclosed letter. His expectations that brought him over, which are touched on in that letter, are at an end. He is a very honest man, but too much dispirited to put himself forward. Cannot some smouting in the writing way be got for him? Or some little clerkship? which he would execute very faithfully. He is at Mr. Cooper’s at the Hat and Feather, Snow Hill. Mr. F—— has done what he could to serve him (to little purpose, indeed), and now leaves him as a legacy to good Mr. Strahan.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 December 1762
Jared Ingersoll
Ingersoll, Jared


Dear Sir:

I thank you for your kind congratulations. It gives me pleasure to hear from an old friend; it will give me much more pleasure to see him. I hope, therefore, nothing will prevent the journey you propose for next summer and the favor you intend me of a visit. I believe I must make a journey early in the spring to Virginia, but purpose being back again before the hot weather. You will be kind enough to let me know beforehand what time you expect to be here, that I may not be out of the way, for that would mortify me exceedingly.

I should be glad to know what it is that distinguishes Connecticut religion from common religion. Communicate, if you please, some of these particulars that you think will amuse me as a virtuoso. When I travelled in Flanders, I thought of your excessively strict observation of Sunday; and that a man could hardly travel on that day among you upon his lawful occasions without hazard of punishment; while, where I was, every one travelled, if he pleased, or diverted himself in any other way; and in the afternoon both high and low went to the play or the opera, where there was plenty of singing, fiddling, and dancing. I looked around for God’s judgments, but saw no signs of them. The cities were well built and full of inhabitants, the markets filled with plenty, the people well favored and well clothed, the fields well tilled, the cattle fat and strong, the fences, Edition: current; Page: [285] houses, and windows all in repair, and no Old Tenor anywhere in the country; which would almost make one suspect that the Deity is not so angry at that offence as a New England Justice.

I left our friend Mr. Jackson well, and I had the great happiness of finding my little family well when I came home, and my friends as cordial and more numerous than ever. May every prosperity attend you and yours. I am, dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 March, 1763
William Strahan
Strahan, William


. . . I have received your favors of October 20th and November 1st by my son, who is safely arrived with my new daughter. I thank you for your friendly congratulations on his promotion. I am just returned from a journey I made with him through his government, and had the pleasure of seeing him everywhere received with the utmost respect and even affection of all ranks of people. As to myself, I mentioned to you in a former letter that I found my friends here more numerous and as hearty as ever. It had been industriously reported that I had lived very extravagantly in England, and wasted a considerable sum of the public money, which I had received out of your treasury for the Province; but the Assembly, when they came to examine my accounts and allow me for my services, found themselves £2,214 10s. d. sterling in my debt, Edition: current; Page: [286] to the utter confusion of the propagators of that falsehood, and the surprise of all they had made to believe it. The House accordingly ordered that sum to be paid me, and that the Speaker should, moreover, present me with their thanks for my fidelity, etc., in transacting their affairs. I congratulate you on the glorious peace your ministry have made, the most advantageous to Britain, in my opinion, of any your annals have recorded. As to the places left or restored to France, I conceive our strength will now soon increase to so great a degree in North America that in any future war we may with ease redeem them all; and therefore I look upon them as so many hostages or pledges of good behavior from that perfidious nation. Your pamphlets and papers, therefore, that are wrote against the peace with some plausibility, give me pleasure, as I hope the French will read them and be persuaded they have made an excellent bargain. . . .

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 May, 1763

TO ———

I congratulate you sincerely on the signing of the definitive treaty, which, if agreeable to the preliminaries, gives us peace the most advantageous as well as glorious that was ever before attained by Britain. Throughout this continent I find it universally approved and applauded; and am glad to find the same sentiment prevailing in your Parliament and the unbiased part of the nation. Grumblers there will Edition: current; Page: [287] always be among you, where power and places are worth striving for, and those who cannot obtain them are angry with all that stand in their way. Such would have clamored against a ministry not their particular friends, even if instead of Canada and Louisiana they had obtained a cession of the kingdom of heaven. . . .

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 June, 1763
New York
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Friend:

You will hear before this reaches you that the Indians have renewed their hostilities. They have not as usual made any previous complaint, and various conjectures are therefore made of the cause. Some think it is merely to secure their hunting countries, which they apprehend we mean to take from them by force and turn them into plantations, though the apprehension is without ground; others, that too little notice of them has been taken since the reduction of Canada, no presents made them as before; others, that they are offended at the prohibition of selling them rum or powder, but I do not find this prohibition has been general, and as to powder, that enough has been allowed them all for their hunting; others, that they acquired a relish for plunder in the late war, and would again enjoy the sweets of it; others, that it is the effect of a large belt sent among them by the French commander in the Illinois country before he heard of the peace, to excite them to renew the war and assure them of Edition: current; Page: [288] supplies and assistance; others think all these causes may have operated together. The nations chiefly concerned are said to be the Ottawas and Chippewas, who live west of and north of the Lakes, and the Delawares on the Ohio, but some other nations who have not yet appeared are suspected privily to encourage them. It is, however, a war that I think cannot last long, though for the present very mischievous to the poor settlers on the frontiers.

I expected when I left England to have learnt in your letters the true state of things from time to time among you; but you are silent and I am in the dark. I hear that faction and sedition are becoming universal among you, which I can scarcely believe, though I see in your public papers a licentiousness that amazes me. I hear of ins and outs and ups and downs, and know neither why nor wherefore. Think, my dear friend, how much satisfaction it is in your power to give me, with a loss only of half an hour in a month that you would otherwise spend at cribbage. I left our friend David and his family well. I hope this will find you so. I am here on my journey to New England, whence I hope to return in about two months. Sally goes with me. Billy and his wife came over here last night from the Jerseys to spend a few days with their friends at New York, so that we are all together at present, except my wife, and all join in best wishes for you and good Mrs. Strahan and your children. I wrote to you by the last packet, and can now only add that I am, with sincerest esteem and affection, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 August, 1763
William Strahan
Strahan, William


Dear Friend:

I have received here your favor of May 3d, and postscript of May 10th, and thank you cordially for the sketch you give me of the present state of your political affairs. If the stupid, brutal opposition your good king and his measures have lately met with, should as you fear, become general, surely you would not wish me to come and live among such people; you would rather remove hither, where we have no savages but those we expect to be such. But I think your madmen will erelong come to their senses; and when I come I shall find you generally wise and happy. That I have not the propensity to sitting still that you apprehend, let my present journey witness for me, in which I have already travelled eleven hundred and forty miles on this continent since April, and shall make six hundred and forty miles more before I see home. No friend can wish me more in England than I do myself. But before I go1 every thing I am concerned in must be so settled here as to make another return to America unnecessary. My love to every one of your dear family, of whose welfare I always rejoice to hear; being with the greatest esteem and affection, dear sir, yours sincerely,

B. Franklin.
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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 December, 1763
William Strahan
Strahan, William


. . . I own that I sometimes suspect my love to England and my friends there, seduces me a little, and makes my own middling reasons for going over, appear very good ones. We shall see in a little time how things will turn out. Blessings on your heart for the feast of politics you gave me in your last. I could by no other means have obtained so clear a view of the present state of your public affairs as by your letter. Most of your observations appear to me extremely judicious, strikingly clear and true. I only differ from you in some of the melancholy apprehensions you express concerning consequences; and to comfort you (at the same time flattering my own vanity) let me remind you that I have sometimes been in the right in such cases, when you happened to be in the wrong, as I can prove upon you out of this very letter of yours. Call to mind your former fears for the King of Prussia, and remember my telling you that the man’s abilities were more than equal to all the force of his enemies, and that he would finally extricate himself and triumph. This, by the account you give me from Major Beckwith, is fully verified. You now fear for our virtuous young king, that the factions forming will overpower him and render his reign uncomfortable. On the contrary, I am of opinion that his virtue and the consciousness of his sincere intentions to make his people happy will give him firmness and steadiness in his measures and in the support of the honest friends he Edition: current; Page: [291] has chosen to serve him; and when that firmness is fully perceived, faction will dissolve and be dissipated like a morning fog before the rising sun, leaving the rest of the day clear, with a sky serene and cloudless. Such, after a few of the first years, will be the future course of his Majesty’s reign, which I predict will be happy and truly glorious. Your fears for the nation, too, appear to me as little founded. A new war I cannot yet see reason to apprehend. The peace I think will long continue, and your nation be as happy as they deserve to be.

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 January, 1764
Governor Bernard
Bernard, Governor



Having heard nothing from Virginia concerning your son, I have at length thought the best and surest way of bringing him safely here will be to send from hence a sober, trusty person to conduct him up, who will attend him on the road, etc. I have accordingly this day agreed with Mr. Ennis, a very discreet man, to make the journey, who sets out to-morrow morning. I shall send with him my own horse for Mr. Bernard, and money to bear his expenses, with a letter to Mr. Johnson, engaging to pay any account he may have against your son, or any reasonable debts he may have contracted there. I hope this will be agreeable to you and answer the end. I am, with sincerest respect, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [292]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 January, 1764
Anthony Todd
Todd, Anthony



In my last I wrote you that Mr. Foxcroft, my colleague, was gone to Virginia, where, and in Maryland, some offices are yet unsettled. We are to meet again in April at Annapolis, and then shall send you a full account of our doings. I will now only just mention that we hope in the spring to expedite the communication between Boston and New York, as we have already that between New York and Philadelphia, by making the mails travel by night as well as by day, which has never heretofore been done in America. It passes now between Philadelphia and New York so quick that a letter can be sent from one place to another, and an answer received the following day, which before took a week, and when our plan is executed between Boston and New York, letters may be sent and answers received in four days, which before took a fortnight; and between Philadelphia and Boston in six days, which before required three weeks. We think this expeditious communication will greatly increase the number of letters from Philadelphia and Boston by the packets to Britain.1

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 August, 1764
Colonel Bouquet
Bouquet, Colonel


Dear Sir:

Returning just now from the Board of Commissioners, I found your agreeable favor of the 10th instant. We had a meeting on Tuesday, when your letter to the governor was laid before us, his Honor not present and the Board thin. I think none but myself spoke then for the measure recommended; so to prevent its being too hastily refused, I moved to refer it to this day, when we might have a fuller Board. The principal objection was, that the act did not empower us to go farther. To-day we got over that objection and all others, and came to a resolution which will be communicated to you by the governor, I suppose, and the money sent by Captain Young. We have fully, as we understand it, complied with your requisition; and ’t is a pleasure to me to have done every thing you wished me to do in the affair before the receipt of your letter.

I recollect that I once in conversation promised you some papers I had by me, containing hints for conducting an Indian war. I have since found them, and on looking them over am of opinion you will meet with nothing new in them that is of any importance; however, to keep my promise, I now send them enclosed.

The June packet is arrived from England, as is also our friend Mr. Allen, but we have no news by them that is material. France and England are both diligently repairing their marine; but I suppose ’t is a matter of course, and not with intention of any new repulse. The ministerial party is said to be continually Edition: current; Page: [294] gaining strength and the opposition diminishing. Abroad the Poles are cutting one another’s throats a little about their election. But ’t is their constitution, and I suppose reckoned among their privileges to sacrifice a few thousands of the subjects every interregnum either to the manes of the deceased king, or to the honor of his successor. And if they are fond of this privilege, I don’t know that their neighbors have any right to disturb them in the enjoyment of it. And yet the Russians have entered their country with an army to preserve peace! and secure the freedom of the election!

It comes into my mind that you can easily do me a kindness, and I ought not, by omitting to acquaint you with the occasion, deprive you of the pleasure you take in serving your friends. By this ship I hear that my enemies (for God has blessed me with two or three, to keep me in order) are now representing me at home as an opposer and obstructor of his Majesty’s service here. If I know any thing of my own heart, or can remember any thing of my own actions, I think they might have as justly accused me of being a blackamoor. You cannot but have heard of the zeal and industry with which I promoted the service in the time of General Braddock, and the douceurs I procured for the officers that served under him. I spent a summer in that service without a shilling advantage to myself in the shape of profit, commission, or any other way whatsoever. I projected a method of supplying General Shirley with £10,000 worth of provisions, to be given at his request by this province, and carried the same through Edition: current; Page: [295] the House, so as to render it effectual; together with a gift of some hundreds of warm waistcoats, stockings, mittens, etc., for the troops, in their first winter service at Albany. And at Lord Loudon’s request I so managed between the governor and Assembly as to procure the passage of the £60,000 act then greatly wanted, and met with great difficulty. On your arrival here you know the readiness with which I endeavored to serve the officers in the affair of their quarters; and you have been a witness of my behavior as a Commissioner, in the execution of the present act, and of my forwardness to carry at the Board every measure you proposed to promote the service. What I would request is, that you would take occasion in some letter to me to express your sentiments of my conduct in these respects so far as has come to your knowledge or fallen under your observation. My having such a letter to produce on occasion may possibly be of considerable service to me. With the most perfect esteem, I am, dear sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.

Mrs. Franklin and Sally join me in prayers for your success and happy return.

I send you enclosed our last political pamphlet, to amuse you on some rainy day.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 September, 1764
William Strahan
Strahan, William


I thought I had sent you one of my narratives. You cannot conceive the number of bitter enemies Edition: current; Page: [296] that little piece has raised me among the Irish Presbyterians. I now need send you a pamphlet that I have written since in favor of our projected change of government; and Mr. Galloway’s speech with a preface of mine against the proprietary party with whom I am still at war, and who will erelong either demolish me or I them. If the former happens, as possibly it may, behold me in London for the rest of my days. At present I am here as much the butt of party rage and malice, expressed in pamphlets and prints, and have as many pelted at my head in proportion, as if I had the misfortune of being your prime minister. . . . You can scarcely conceive how acceptable and satisfactory your letters always are on public affairs to me and my friends. For my part I rely entirely on your accounts and sentiments—only making a small abatement when you forebode any misfortune. But that is mere temper in me, who always love to view the bright sides of things. . . . News is just arrived of a peace concluded at Presquisle with the Delawares and Shawanese by Col. Bradstreet.

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 September, 1764
Anthony Todd
Todd, Anthony



We have just received some important news from Presquisle, on Lake Erie, which it is my duty to take this first opportunity of communicating through you to his Majesty’s Postmaster-General.

The public papers, before this can come to hand, Edition: current; Page: [297] will have informed you that Sir William Johnson had held a treaty at Niagara, and concluded a peace with all the Indian nations or tribes that were at war with us, the Delawares, Shawanese, and other Ohio Indians excepted, who had haughtily refused to send deputies to the Congress. We were much concerned to hear of their standing out, as by their situation they were most capable of injuring this and the neighboring provinces, and had actually committed all the late ravages on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia. But these people being informed that Col. Bouquet, from this province, with one thousand of our provincials, besides regulars, was on his march towards their country; and that Col. Bradstreet, with a considerable force of regulars, and New York and New Jersey provincials, was advancing along the back of their territories by Lake Erie, they suddenly changed their resolution of continuing the war, and sent ten of their principal men as deputies, who met Col. Bradstreet at Presquisle, and in the most submissive manner acknowledged their fault in commencing this war on the English without the least cause or provocation, and humbly begged for mercy and forgiveness, and that a peace might be granted them. The colonel, after severely reproving them, granted them peace on the following terms:

1. That all the prisoners now in their country should be immediately collected and delivered up to him at Sandusky within twenty-five days, none to remain among them under any pretence of marriage, adoption, or otherwise, and the unwilling to be forced away.

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2. That they should cede to the English, and renounce forever all claim to the posts or forts now or late in our possession in their country. And that we should be at liberty to erect as many new forts or trading houses as we pleased, wherever we thought them necessary for security of our trade. And that round each fort now or hereafter to be built, they should cede to us forever as much land as a cannon could throw a shot over, to be cultivated by our people for the more convenient furnishing provisions to the garrison.

3. That in case any one of the tribes should hereafter renew the war against the English, the others should join us in reducing them and bringing them to reason. And that particular murderers hereafter given up to preserve peace, should be tried by the English law, the jury to be half Indians of the same nation with the criminal.

4. That six of the deputies should remain with him as hostages, till the prisoners were restored and these articles confirmed.

These terms were thankfully accepted and signed by the deputies with their marks as usual; they declaring themselves fully authorized for that purpose by the Shawanese, Delawares, Hurons of Sandusky, and the other tribes inhabiting the plains of Scioto, and all the countries between Lake Erie and the Ohio.

The other four deputies, with an English officer and an Indian, were immediately despatched to acquaint the nations with what had passed, and inform them that the Colonel would not discontinue his Edition: current; Page: [299] march, but proceed to Sandusky, where he expected their chiefs would meet him and ratify the treaty; otherwise they should find two armies of warriors in their country, and no future proposals of peace would be hearkened to, but they should be cut off from the face of the earth.

If this peace holds, it will be very happy for these colonies. We only apprehend that the savages, obtaining a peace so easily, without having suffered the chastisement they deserved for their late perfidy, and without being obliged to make any restitution or satisfaction for the goods they robbed our merchants of, and the barbarities they committed (except the cession of those small tracts round forts), will more readily incline to renew the war on every little occasion.

Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to the Postmaster-General, and believe me with much esteem, sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
30 September, 1764
Colonel Bouquet
Bouquet, Colonel


Dear Sir:

I have been so totally occupied with the sitting of the Assembly and other urgent affairs, that I could not till now do myself the pleasure of writing to you, since the receipt of your obliging favors of August 10th and 22d, and a subsequent one relating to Bradstreet’s peace, of which I think as you do.

I thank you cordially for so readily complying with Edition: current; Page: [300] my request. Your letter was quite full and sufficient, and leaves me nothing to desire by way of addition, except that if any letter of yours relating to the present expedition is like to be seen by the Secretary of State, you would take occasion just to mention me as one ready on that and every other occasion to promote the service of the crown. The malice and industry of my adversaries have, I find, made these precautions a little necessary.

Your sentiments of our constitution are solid and just. I am not sure that the change now attempted will immediately take place, nor am I very anxious about it. But sooner or later it will be effected. And till it is effected, we shall have little internal quiet in the administration of our public affairs.

I have lately received a number of new pamphlets from England and France, among which is a piece of Voltaire’s on the subject of religious toleration. I will give you a passage of it, which being read here at a time when we are torn to pieces by faction, religious and civil, shows us that while we sit for our picture to that able painter, ’t is no small advantage to us that he views us at a favorable distance: “Mais que dirons-nous,” dit il, “de ces pacifiques Primitifs que l’on a nommés Quakers par dérision, et qui, avec des usages peut-être ridicules, ont été si vertueux, et ont enseigné inutilement la paix aux reste des hommes? Ils sont en Pensylvanie au nombre de cent mille; la Discorde, la Controverse, sont ignorées dans l’heureuse patrie qu’ils se sont faite: et le nom seul de leur ville de Philadelphie, qui leur rapelle a tout moment que les hommes sont frères, est l’exemple Edition: current; Page: [301] et la honte des peuples qui ne connaissent pas encore la tolérance.” The occasion of his writing this Traité sur la Tolérance was what he calls “le Meurtre de Jean Calas, commis dans Toulouse avec le glaive de la Justice, le 9me Mars 1762.” There is in it abundance of good sense and sound reasoning mixed with some of those pleasantries that mark the author as strongly as if he had affixed his name. Take one of them as a sample: “J’ai apris que le Parlement de Toulouse et quelques autres tribunaux, ont une jurisprudence singuliere: ils admettent des quarts; des tier sixièmes de preuve. Ainsi, avec six oui-dires d’un côte, trois de l’autre, et quatre quarts de présomtion ils forment trois preuves complètes; et sur cette belle demonstration ils vous vouent unhomme sans miséricorde. Une légére connaissance de l’art de raisonner sufirait pour leur faire prendre une autre méthode. Çe qu’on apelle une demi-preuve ne peut-être qu’un soupçon: Il n’y a point a la rigueur, de demi-preuve. Ou une chose est prouvée, ou elle ne l’est pas; il n’y a point, de milieu. Cent mille soupçons réunis ne peuvent pas plus etablir une preuve, que cent mille zéros ne peuvent composer un nombre. Il y a des quarts de ton dans la musique; mais il n’y a ni quart de vérité, ni quart de raisonnement.”1

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I send you one of the pamphlets, Jugement rendue dans l’affaire du Canady, supposing it may be the more agreeable to you to see it, as during your war with that colony you must have been made acquainted with some of the characters concerned. With the truest esteem and affection, I am, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
6 November, 1764
Anthony Todd
Todd, Anthony



Col. Bouquet marched from Pittsburgh the 4th of October, with 1,500 men, down the Ohio, to attack the Shawana towns; the peace made by Col. Bradstreet at Presquisle not being confirmed. We have not since heard from either of those armies. I am, etc.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 July, 1767
Peter Collinson
Collinson, Peter


Dear Friend:

I have heard of an account you lately received from Russia of some discovery of an ancient sepulchre in the frontiers of that country. I wish I could see that account. In the meantime I Edition: current; Page: [303] send you a passage I have met with in Herodotus, that most ancient historian, concerning the sepulchres of the Scythian kings, which may possibly throw some light on this discovery. The Boristhenes, you know, is a river that takes its rise in the north, and empties itself into the Euxine Sea. I am, as ever, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.

“The sepulchres of the Scythian kings are in the country of the Gerrhians, where the Borysthenes is first known to be navigable. When their king dies, they dig a great hole in the ground, of a quadrangular form, and having received the body covered with wax, they open and cleanse the belly, filling the space with bruised cypress, incense, seeds of parsley, and aries. And after they have sewed up the belly again, they carry the body in a chariot to another province; where, those who receive it imitate the royal Scythians in the following custom: They cut off part of one ear: shave their heads; wound themselves on the arms, forehead, and nose; and pierce the left hand with an arrow. Having done thus, they accompany the chariot to another district; and this manner is observed in every province; till having carried the dead body of the king through all his dominions, they bury him in the country of the Gerrhians, who inhabit the remotest parts of the kingdom. Here they lay him in the sepulchre, upon a bed encompassed on all sides with spears, which they cover with timber, and spread a canopy over the Edition: current; Page: [304] whole monument. In the spaces that remain vacant, they place one of the king’s concubines strangled; with a cup-bearer, a cook, a groom, a waiter, a messenger, certain horses, and some of all things necessary. To these they add cups of gold, because silver and brass are not used amongst them. This done, they throw up the earth with great diligence, and endeavor to raise the mount as high as possibly they can.—Herodotus, Book IV.1

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
29 October, 1769
Anthony Todd
Todd, Anthony


Craven Street,

Discoursing with Captain Folger, a very intelligent mariner of the island of Nantucket, in New England, concerning the long passages made by some ships bound from England to New York, I received from him the following information, viz.:

That the island in which he lives is inhabited chiefly by people concerned in the whale fishery, in which they employed nearly 150 sail of vessels; that the whales are found generally near the edges of the Gulph Stream, a strong current so called, which comes out of the Gulph of Florida, passing northeasterly along the coast of America, and then turning off most easterly, running at the rate of 4, 3½, 3 and 2½ miles an hour. That the whaling business leading these people to cruise along the edges of the stream Edition: current; Page: [305] in quest of whales, they are become better acquainted with the course, breadth, strength, and extent of the same, than those navigators can well be who only cross it in their voyages to and from America, that they have opportunities of discovering the strength of it when their boats are out in the pursuit of this fish, and happen to get into the stream while the ship is out of it, or out of the stream while the ship is in it, for then they are separated very fast, and would soon lose sight of each other if care were not taken; that in crossing the stream to and fro, they frequently in the same meet and speak with ships bound from England to New York, Virginia, etc., who have passages of 8, 9, and 10 weeks and are still far from land, and not likely to be in with it for some time, being engaged in that part of the stream that sets directly against them, and it is supposed that their fear of Cape Sable shoals, George’s Banks, or Nantucket shoals, hath induced them to keep so far to the southward as unavoidably to engage them in the same Gulph Stream, which occasions the length of their voyages, since in a calm it carries them directly back, and though they may have fair winds, yet the current being 60 or 70 miles a day, is so much subtracted from the way they make through the water. At my request Captain Folger hath been so obliging as to mark for me on a chart the dimensions, course and swiftness of the stream from its first coming out of the gulph where it is narrowest and strongest, until it turns away to go to the southward of the western islands, where it is broader and weaker and to give me withal some written directions whereby Edition: current; Page: [306] ships bound from the Banks of Newfoundland to New York may avoid the said stream; and yet be free of danger from the banks and shoals above mentioned. As I apprehend that such chart and directions may be of use to our packets in shortening their voyages, I send them to you, that if their lordships should think fit, so much of the chart as is contained within the red lines may be engraved, and printed, together with the remarks, at the charge of the office; or at least that manuscript copies may be made of the same for the use of packets. The expense of the former would not so much exceed the latter and would besides be of general service. With much esteem, I am, etc.,

B. Franklin.

Endorsed: “Craven Street, Oct. 29th, 1769, Dr. Franklin to Mr. Todd. In Mr. Todd’s to Mr. Pownall, of 7 Feby., 1769.”

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
30 December, 1770


Dear Sir:

I duly received your several favors of July 12th, November 6th and 15th, and am glad that my little communications afforded you any pleasure. I join with you most cordially in wishes of a perfect happy union between Great Britain and the colonies. This is only to be expected from principles of justice and equity on both sides, which we must endeavor to cultivate. I think there is now a disposition here to treat us more equitably, and I hope it will increase and prevail.

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I esteem the appointment to the agency of your province, unexpected and unsolicited by me, as one of the greatest honors, for which I must think myself indebted to your friendship. I wish I may be able to do my country effectual service; nothing could make me more happy. I shall, however, use my most faithful endeavors. I had, before I heard of this appointment, openly opposed the project of abridging our charter privileges, which some of our adversaries were extremely busy in designing to do by an act of Parliament; a bill for the purpose being, as I have heard, actually drawn ready to be brought in. I boldly and openly asserted that Parliament had no such power; and that an attempt of that kind would, by alarming all America, raise a new flame there and tend more to loosen the connections now subsisting, than any step that had yet been taken. I do not know that the freedom I used in declaring and publishing these sentiments had much effect; I rather think the apprehension of an approaching war inclined government to milder measures, and to hearken less to the mad projects of our adversaries. So it is, however, that the scheme has been laid aside, and will, I think, hardly be resumed, though the expectation of war is much lessened.

It makes me happy to learn that my ideas on a certain subject appeared just to you and your friends. I have now in hand a piece (intended for the public at a convenient time)1 which I hope will satisfy many others even on this side the water, that every lady of Edition: current; Page: [308] Genoa is not a Queen of Corsica. Just at this juncture here, perhaps ’t is more prudent to be quiet, to stir no new questions, to let heats abate; and when minds are cooler, reason may be better heard. I think I shall send my manuscript to America for the perusal and correction of my friends and for their advice on the expediency of its being published, before I venture it into the world. You I hope will give me leave to trouble you with it, as it seems to me a question of great importance to us all.

You have given, in a little compass, so full and comprehensive a view of the circumstances on which is founded the security Britain has for all reasonable advantages from us, though things were put into the same state in which they were before the Stamp Act, that I cannot refrain communicating an extract of your letter, where I think it may be of use; and I think I shall publish it.

There is no doubt of an intention here to make all our governors independent of the people for their support, as fast as the American duties will bear the expense. In this point I think all parties are against us; and nothing appears to them more unreasonable than that we should wish to have our governors under such influence, when the king himself, as they say, is always made independent of the Parliament here, in that respect, by a fixed civil-list revenue. I have endeavored to show the injustice of taxing those colonies (who have always supported their own government) for the support of other governments in which they have no interest, and the great difference between a prince,—whose welfare and that of his family Edition: current; Page: [309] is intimately connected with the prosperity of the nation,—and a governor who comes from another country to make money, and intends to return to the place whence he came, where he will not hear the complaints and curses of those he has oppressed and plundered, nor his children be less respected or fare the worse for the malfeasance of their father. But it is so sweet a thing to have the giving of places of great and sure profit to friends and favorites, and the prospect of doing it out of other revenues than those of this nation, at which Parliament is therefore less likely to take umbrage, is so tempting, that I think scarce any thing said or to be said here will avail much towards discouraging the project. There is indeed one thing (if that is in their power),—the refraining absolutely from the use of all commodities subject to the duty. The deficiency of the revenue to pay the salaries, and those to be made good by the treasury here, might possibly put some check to the career. And if the Assemblies should at the same time decline giving any more annual supports, and leave all governors to their appointments out of the revenue, giving bountifully to a good governor at the end of his administration, and leaving bad ones to be rewarded by their masters; perhaps by this means some of that influence with governors might be retained, which induces them to treat the people with equity and moderation. But if our people will, by consuming such commodities, purchase and pay for their fetters, who that sees them so shackled, will think they deserve either redress or pity. Methinks that in drinking tea, a true American, reflecting that Edition: current; Page: [310] by every cup he contributed to the salaries, pensions, and rewards of the enemies and persecutors of his country, would be half choked at the thought, and find no quantity of sugar sufficient to make the nauseous draught go down.

I hope your health is restored, and that your valuable life will be long continued, for the benefit of your friends, family, and country.

With sincere and great esteem, I am, dear sir, your affectionate and most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 April, 1771
Humphrey Marshall
Marshall, Humphrey



I duly received your favors of the 4th of October and the 17th of November. It gave me pleasure to hear that though the merchants had departed from their agreement of non-importation, the spirit of industry and frugality was likely to continue among the people. I am obliged to you for your concern on my account. The letters you mention gave great offence here; but that was not attended with the immediate ill consequences to my interest that seem to have been hoped for by those that sent copies of them hither.

If our country people would well consider that all they save in refusing to purchase foreign gewgaws, and in making their own apparel, being applied to the improvement of their plantations, would render Edition: current; Page: [311] those more profitable, as yielding a greater produce, I should hope they would persist resolutely in their present commendable industry and frugality. And there is still a further consideration. The colonies that produce provisions grow very fast. But of the countries that take off those provisions, some do not increase at all, as the European nations; and others, as the West India colonies, not in the same proportion. So that though the demand at present may be sufficient, it cannot long continue so. Every manufacturer encouraged in our country makes part of a market for provisions within ourselves, and saves so much money to the country as must otherwise be exported to pay for the manufacturing he supplies. Here in England it is well known and understood that wherever a manufacture is established which employs a number of hands, it raises the value of lands in the neighboring country all around it, partly by the greater demand near at hand for the produce of the land, and partly from the plenty of money drawn by the manufacturers to that part of the country. It seems, therefore, the interest of all our farmers and owners of lands to encourage our young manufactures in preference to foreign ones imported among us from distant countries.

I am much obliged by your kind present of curious seeds. They were welcome gifts to some of my friends. I send you herewith some of the new barley lately introduced into this country, and now highly spoken of. I wish it may be found of use with us.

I was the more pleased to see in your letter the improvement of our paper, having had a principal share Edition: current; Page: [312] in establishing that manufacture among us many years ago, by the encouragement I gave it.

If in any thing I can serve you here, it will be a pleasure to your obliged friend and humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 June, 1771
Thomas Cushing
Cushing, Thomas




I received your favor of the 30th of April a few days since, with the newspapers, etc., and am much obliged by the information you as a private person so kindly give of the present state of affairs in your province. Such a confidential correspondence between us I most willingly embrace, as I am persuaded it must be often useful in the prudent conduct of our public interests to interchange intelligence that cannot so properly or safely appear in public letters, since nothing written to or from an Assembly can be kept from the knowledge of adversaries, who may take advantage of it, to the prejudice of our affairs and of the persons concerned in the management of them.

The continuing our general court at Cambridge Edition: current; Page: [313] has always appeared to me a measure extremely impolitic in government here, as it can tend only to irritate the members, offend the people in general, and create an ill-humor that can never be for his Majesty’s service or the benefit of this nation. For supposing the province to be ever so great an offender, this is not a punishment sufficient to reform by its severity; it is rather more fitted to affront and provoke. You will therefore hardly understand it if you do not well know the character of the present American Secretary, proud, supercilious, extremely conceited of his political knowledge and abilities (moderate as they are), fond of every one that can stoop to flatter him, and inimical to all that dare tell him disagreeable truths. This man’s mandates have been treated with disrespect in America, his letters have been criticised, his measures censured and despised; which has produced in him a kind of settled malice against the colonies, particularly ours, that would break out into greater violence if cooler heads did not set some bounds to it. I have indeed good reason to believe that his conduct is far from being approved by the king’s other servants, and that he himself is so generally disliked by them that it is not probable he will continue much longer in his present station, the general wish here being to recover (saving only the dignity of government) the good-will of the colonies, which there is little reason to expect while they are under his wild administration. Their permitting so long his eccentricities (if I may use such an expression) is owing, I imagine, rather to the difficulty of knowing how to dispose Edition: current; Page: [314] of or what to do with a man of his wrong-headed bustling industry, who, it is apprehended, may be more mischievous out of administration than in it, than to any kind of personal regard for him.

All views or expectations of drawing any considerable revenue to this country from the colonies are, I believe, generally given over, and it seems probable that nothing of that kind will ever again be attempted. But as foreign courts appear to have taken great pleasure in the prospect of our disunion, it seems now to be thought necessary for supporting the national weight and the influence of our court abroad, that there should be an appearance as if all was pacified in America; and, as I said before, I think the general wish is that it may be really so. But then there is an apprehension lest a too sudden yielding to all our claims should be deemed the effect of weakness; render the British court contemptible in the eyes of foreigners; make us more presumptuous, and promote more extravagant demands such as could never be granted, and thence still greater danger of a fatal rupture. I am thus particular, that you may judge whether it will not be prudent in us to indulge the mother country in this concern for her own honor, so far as may be consistent with the protection of our essential rights, especially as that honor may in some cases be of importance to the general welfare. And in this view, whether it will not be better gradually to wear off the assumed authority of Parliament over America, which we have in too many instances given countenance to, with our indiscreet acknowledgment of it Edition: current; Page: [315] in public acts, than, by a general open denial and resistance to it, bring on prematurely a contest to which, if we are not found equal, that authority will by the event be more strongly established; and if we should prove superior, yet by the division, the general strength of the British nation must be greatly diminished. I do not venture to advise in this case, because I see in this seemingly prudent course some danger of a diminishing attention to our rights, instead of a persevering endeavor to recover and establish them; but I rely a good deal on the growing knowledge of them among the Americans, and the daily increasing strength and importance of that country to this, which must give such weight in time to our just claims as no selfish spirit in this part of the empire will be able to resist. In the meantime, while we are declining the usurped authority of Parliament, I wish to see a steady, dutiful attachment to the king and his family maintained among us; and that however we may be induced for peace-sake, or from a sense of our present inability, to submit at present in some instances to the exercise of that unjust authority, we shall continue from time to time to assert our rights in occasional solemn resolves and other public acts, never yielding them up and avoiding even the slightest expressions that seem confirmatory of the claim that has been set up against them. My opinion has long been that Parliament had originally no right to bind us by any kind of law whatever without our consent. We have indeed in a manner consented to some of them, at least tacitly. But for the future methinks we should be cautious Edition: current; Page: [316] how we add to those instances, and never adopt or acknowledge an act of Parliament but by a formal law of our own, as your General Assembly I think did in the case of the act of Parliament relating to the oaths mentioned in the first paragraph of your votes; though as it stands there, it seems as if the act of Parliament had required those oaths to be taken by your members, and was acknowledged as of force for that purpose.

I do not at present see the least likelihood of preventing the grant of salaries or pensions from hence to the king’s officers in America by any application in be half of the people there. It is looked on as a strange thing here to object to the king’s paying his own servants sent among us to do his business; and they say we would seem to have much more reason of complaint if it were required of us to pay them. And the more we urge the impropriety of their not depending on us for their support, the more suspicion it breeds that we are desirous of influencing them to betray the interests of their master or of this nation. Indeed if the money is raised from us against our wills, the injustice becomes more evident than where it arises from hence. I do not think, however, that the effect of these salaries is likely to be so considerable, either in favor of government here, or in our prejudice, as may be generally apprehended. The love of money is not a thing of certain measure, so as that it may be easily filled and satisfied. Avarice is infinite; and where there is not good economy, no salary, however large, will prevent necessity. He that has a fixed and what others may think a competent Edition: current; Page: [317] income, is often as much to be biased by the expectation of more, as if he had already none at all. If the colonies should resolve on giving handsome presents to good governors at or after their departure, or to their children after their decease, I imagine it might produce even better effects than our present annual grants. But the course probably will soon be that the chief governor, to whom the salary is given, will have leave to reside in England; a lieutenant or deputy will be left to do the business and live on the perquisites, which not being thought quite sufficient, his receiving presents yearly will be winked at through the interest of his principal; and thus things will get into the old train, only this inconvenience remaining, that while by our folly in consuming the duty-articles the fixed salary is raised on ourselves without our consent, we must pay double for the same service. However, though it may be a hopeless task while the duties continue sufficient to pay the salaries, I shall on all proper occasions make representations against this new mode; and if by the duties falling short the treasury should be called on to pay those salaries, it is possible they may come to be seen in another light than at present, and dropped as unnecessary.

I was glad to see that attention in the general court to the improvement of the militia. A war may happen in which Britain, like Rome of old, may find so much to do for her own defence as to be unable to spare troops or ships for the protection of her colonies. A minister may arise so little our friend as to neglect that protection, or to permit invasions of our Edition: current; Page: [318] country, in order to make us cry out for help, and thereby furnish stronger pretence for maintaining a standing army among us. If we once lose our military spirit and supinely depend on an army of mercenaries for our defence, we shall become contemptible; despised both by friends and enemies, as neither our friendship nor our enmity will be deemed of any importance. As our country is not wealthy so as to afford much ready plunder, the temptation to a foreign invasion of us is the less, and I am persuaded that the name of a numerous well-disciplined militia would alone be almost sufficient to prevent any thoughts of attempting it. And what a glory would it be for us to send, on any trying occasion, ready and effectual aid to our mother country!

I have lately been among the clothing towns in Yorkshire, and by conversing with the manufacturers there, am more and more convinced of the natural impossibility there is that, considering our increase in America, England should be able much longer to supply us with clothing. Necessity, therefore, as well as prudence, will soon induce us to seek resources in our own industry, which becoming general among the people, encouraged by resolutions of your court, such as I have the pleasure of seeing in your late votes, will do wonders. Family manufactures will alone amount to a vast saving in the year; and a steady determination and custom of buying only of your own artificers wherever they can supply you, will soon make them more expert in working, so as to despatch more business, while constant employment enables them to afford their work still cheaper. Edition: current; Page: [319] The lowness of provisions with us, compared with their daily rising price here, added to the freight, risk, and commissions on the manufactures of this country, must give great advantage to our workmen, and enable them in time to retain a great deal of money in the country, though still trade enough should remain between us and Britain to render our friendship of the greatest importance to this nation.

I was a subscriber to a set of plates published here, entitled The Senator’s Remembrancer, a work encouraged by many members of both Houses. Having a spare copy, I beg your acceptance of it as a small mark of my respect, and send it by Captain Jarvis. Should it afford to your already well-furnished mind no useful hints in the management of public affairs, it may, however, be of service to some young friend—at least as copies of fair and elegant writing.

The letters I have received from my friends in Boston have lately come to hand, badly sealed, with no distinct impression, appearing as if they had been opened, and in a very bungling way closed again. I suspect this may be done by some prying persons that use the coffee-house here. I therefore mention it that you may, if you think fit, send yours under cover to some merchant of character who would forward them to me more safely.

With great and sincere respect, I have the honor of being, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [320]

[This note is on a slip of paper attached to the preceding letter.]

Whatever the prerogative may be, with regard to appointing the place of meeting for Parliaments and Assemblies, it should be used only for the good of the people. Where it is made an instrument of arbitrary power to enforce ministerial measures to the prejudice of the people’s rights, such use of it has justly been condemned. It was one article of impeachment against a former evil minister,1 that to work his ends (or the king’s) he has caused the Parliament to sit in villibus et remotis partibus Regni, where few people, propter defectum hospitii et victualium, could attend, and by shifting that Assembly from place to place to enforce (the author’s words) illos paucos qui remanebunt de communitate Regni, concedere Regi quamvis pessima.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 January, 1772
Thomas Cushing
Cushing, Thomas



I am now returned again to London from a journey of some months in Ireland and Scotland. Though my constitution and too great confinement to business during the winter seem to require the air Edition: current; Page: [321] and exercise of a long journey once a year, which I have now practised for more than twenty years past, yet I should not have been out so long this time but that I was well assured the Parliament would not meet till towards the end of January, before which meeting few of the principal people would be in town, and no business of importance likely to be agitated relating to America.

I have now before me your esteemed favors of July 9th, September 25th, and October 2d. In the first you mention that the General Assembly was still held out of its ancient and only convenient seat, the township of Boston, and by the latest papers from thence I see that it was prorogued again to meet in Cambridge, which I little wonder at when I recollect a question asked me by Lord Hillsborough in Ireland, viz., Whether I had heard from New England lately, since the General Court was returned to Boston? From this I concluded orders had been transmitted by his Lordship for that removal; perhaps such may have been sent, to be used discretionally. I think I have before mentioned to you one of the articles of impeachment brought against an evil administration here in former times, that the Parliament had been caused to sit in villibus et remotis partibus Regni, where few people, propter defectum hospitii et victualium, could attend, thereby to force illos paucos qui remanebunt de communitate Regni, concedere Regi Edition: current; Page: [322] quamvis pessima. Lord Clarendon, too, was impeached for endeavoring to introduce arbitrary government into the colonies. Lord H. seems by the late instructions to have been treading in the paths that lead to the same unhappy situation, if the Parliament here should ever again feel for America. As there is something curious in our interview in Ireland, I must give you an account of it. I met with him accidentally at the Lord Lieutenant’s, who happened to invite us to dine with a large company on the same day. He was surprisingly civil, and urged my fellow-traveller and me to call at his house in our intended journey northwards, where we might be sure of better accommodations than the inns could afford us. He pressed us so politely that it was not easy to refuse without apparent rudeness, as we must pass through his town of Hillsborough and by his door; and as it might afford an opportunity of saying something on American affairs, I concluded to comply with his invitation. His Lordship went home some time before we left Dublin. We called upon him, and were detained at his house four days, during which time he entertained us with great civility, and a particular attention to me that appeared the more extraordinary as I knew that just before I left London he had expressed himself concerning me in very angry terms, calling me a Republican, a factious, mischievous fellow, and the like. In our conversations he first showed himself a good Irishman, blaming England for its narrowness towards that country, in restraining its commerce, discouraging its woollen manufacture, Edition: current; Page: [323] etc.; and when I applied his observations to America, he said he had always been of opinion that the people in every part of the king’s dominions had a natural right to make the best use they could of the productions of their country, and that America ought not to be restrained in manufacturing anything she could manufacture to advantage; that he supposed she at present found generally more profit in agriculture but whenever she found that less profitable, or a particular manufacture more so, he had no objection to her pursuing it, and he censured Lord Chatham for asserting in his speech that the Parliament had a right or ought to restrain manufactures in the colonies, adding that as he knew the English were apt to be jealous on that head, he avoided every thing that might inflame that jealousy; and therefore, though the Commons had requested the Crown to order the governors to send over annually accounts of such manufactures as were undertaken in the colonies, yet as they had not ordered such accounts to be annually laid before them, he should never produce them till they were called for. Then he gave me to understand that the bounty on silk raised in America was a child of his, which he hoped would prove of great advantage to that country, and he wished to know in what manner a bounty on raising wine there might be contrived so as to operate effectually for that purpose, desiring me to turn it in my thoughts, as he should be glad of my opinion and advice. Then he informed me that Newfoundland was grown too populous to be left any longer without a regular government, but there Edition: current; Page: [324] were great difficulties in the forming such a kind of government as would be suitable to the particular circumstances of that country, which he wished me likewise to consider, and that I would favor him with my sentiments. He seemed attentive to every thing that might make my stay in his house agreeable to me, and put his eldest son, Lord Kilivaring, into his phæton with me to drive me a round of forty miles, that I might see the country, the seats, manufactures, etc., covering me with his own cloak lest I should take cold, and, in short, seemed in every thing extremely solicitous to impress me, and the colonies through me, with a good opinion of him: all which I could not much wonder at, knowing that he likes neither them nor me, and I thought it inexplicable but on the supposition that he apprehended an approaching storm and was desirous of lessening beforehand the number of enemies he had so imprudently created. But if he takes no step towards withdrawing the troops, repealing the duties, restoring the Castle, or recalling the offensive instructions, I shall think all the plausible behavior I have described and the discourse related concerning manufactures, etc., as meant only by patting and stroking the horse to make him more patient while the reins are drawn tighter and the spurs set deeper into his sides. Before I leave Ireland I must mention that being desirous of seeing the principal patriots there, I stayed till the opening of their Parliament. I found them disposed to be friends of America, in which disposition I endeavored to confirm them, with the expectation that our growing Edition: current; Page: [325] weight might in time be thrown into their scale, and, by joining our interest with theirs, might be obtained for them as well as for us a more equitable treatment from this nation.1 There are many brave spirits among them. The gentry are a very sensible, polite, and friendly people. Their Parliament makes a most respectable figure, with a number of very good speakers in both parties and able men of business. And I ought not to omit acquainting you that it being a standing rule to admit members of the English Parliament to sit (though they do not vote) in the House among the members, while others are only admitted into the gallery, my fellow-traveller being an English member was accordingly admitted as such, but I supposed I must have gone to the gallery, when the Speaker, having been spoken to by some of the members, stood up and acquainted the House that there was in town an American gentleman of character, a member or delegate of some of the Parliaments of that country, who was desirous of being present at the debates of this House; that there was a standing rule of the House for admitting members of the English Parliament; that he did suppose the House would consider the American Assemblies as English Parliaments, but this being the first instance, he had chosen not to give any order without receiving their directions. On the question, the whole House gave a loud unanimous Aye, when two members came to me without the bar, where I was standing, Edition: current; Page: [326] led me in, and placed me very honorably. This I am the more particular in to you, as I esteemed it a mark of respect for our country, and a piece of politeness in which I hope our Parliament will not fall behind theirs, whenever an occasion shall offer. Ireland is itself a poor country, and Dublin a magnificent city; but the appearances of general extreme poverty among the lower people are amazing. They live in wretched hovels of mud and straw, are clothed in rags, and subsist chiefly on potatoes. Our New England farmers, of the poorest sort, in regard to the enjoyment of all the comforts of life, are princes when compared to them. Such is the effect of the discouragements of industry, the nonresidence not only of pensioners, but of many original landlords, who lease their lands in gross to undertakers that rack the tenants and fleece them skin and all to make estates to themselves, while the first rents, as well as most of the pensions, are spent out of the country. An English gentleman there said to me, that by what he had heard of the good grazing in North America, and by what he saw of the plenty of flaxseed imported in Ireland from thence, he could not understand why we did not rival Ireland in the beef and butter trade to the West Indies, and share with it in its linen trade. But he was satisfied when I told him that I supposed the reason might be, our people eat beef and butter every day, and wear shirts themselves. In short, the chief exports of Ireland seem to be pinched off the backs and out of the bellies of the miserable inhabitants. But schemes are now under consideration Edition: current; Page: [327] among the humane gentry to provide some means of mending if possible their present wretched condition.1

Edition: current; Page: [328]

I am much obliged by the very particular account you have favored me with of the general sentiments of people in our province on the present state of affairs between the two countries. They are for the most part the same with my own. I think the revenue acts should be repealed, as not constitutionally founded; that the commission of the customs should be dissolved; that the troops (foreigners to us as much as Hanoverians would be in England, since they are not introduced with the consent of our Legislature) ought to be withdrawn, and the Castle restored to its rightful owners, the government of the province that built it; and that the General Court should be returned to its ancient seat, and Edition: current; Page: [329] the governor’s salary put upon its ancient footing. But it is also my opinion that, while the present American Minister continues, there is very little likelihood that any change will be made in any of those particulars, that of returning the Court perhaps excepted. And yet I am also of opinion that no farther duties are intended, and that although the American Minister might wish to increase that fund for corruption, the other Ministers are not disposed to humor him in it, and would not consent to it. I may be deceived in this opinion, but I have grounds for it. However, I think we should be as much on our guard, and use the same defensive measures and endeavors as if we saw new duties intended in the ensuing session. And nothing can more effectually discourage new duties than the diminution of the revenue produced by duties; a resolute steady refusal to consume the dutiable commodities.

In compliance with your respected recommendation I introduced Mr. Story to a Secretary of the Treasury, who forwarded his memorial; and he tells me he has obtained his request relating to the affair of Mr. Wheelwright’s debt. He now seems to wish for some appointment in consideration of his sufferings from the mob. But I doubt whether it may be worth his while to attend here the solicitation and expectation of such reward, those attendances being often drawn out to an inconceivable length, and the expense, of course, enormous.

With the greatest esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [330]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 July, 1773

TO ———

Dear Cousin:

In looking over your letters I find in that of November 12th mention of a prize of £20 which you have drawn. It never came into my hands, and I cannot find that Smith, Wright, and Gray know any thing of it. If I knew the number of the ticket I could inquire farther.

I am much obliged by your care in Hall’s affair, and glad you have recovered so much of that debt, and are likely to get the rest. I hope it will be of service to my dear sister. The goods for her were sent per Captain Hatch in a trunk consigned to you.

I wish you success in your new plan of business, and shall certainly embrace every opportunity I may have of promoting it.

Upon your recommendation I went to see the black poetess, and offered her any services I could do her. Before I left the house I understood her master was there, and had sent her to me but did not come into the room himself, and, I thought, was not pleased with the visit. I should, perhaps, have inquired first for him; but I had heard nothing of him, and I have heard nothing since of her.

My love to Cousin Grace and your children; I am your affectionate uncle,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 February, 1774
William Franklin
Franklin, William


Dear Son:

This line is just to acquaint you that I am well, and that my office of Deputy-Postmaster Edition: current; Page: [331] is taken from me. As there is no prospect of your being ever promoted to a better government, and that you hold has never defrayed its expenses, I wish you were well settled in your farm. ’T is an honester and a more honorable, because a more independent employment. You will hear from others the treatment I have received. I leave you to your own reflection and determinations upon it, and remain ever, your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
18 February, 1774
William Franklin
Franklin, William


Some tell me that it is determined to displace you likewise, but I do not know it as certain. I only give you the hint, as an inducement to you to delay awhile your removal to Amboy, which in that case would be an expense and trouble to no purpose. Perhaps they may expect that your resentment of their treatment of me may induce you to resign, and save them the shame of depriving you when they ought to promote. But this I would not advise you to do. Let them take your place if they want it, though in truth I think it is scarce worth your keeping, since it has not afforded you sufficient to prevent your running every year behindhand with me. But one may make something of an injury, nothing of a resignation.

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [332]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
18 March, 1774
John Ingenhousz
Ingenhousz, John


Dear Friend:

I am very sensible of your kindness in the concern you express on account of the late attack on my character before the Privy Council and in the papers. Be assured, my good friend, that I have done nothing unjustifiable, nothing but what is consistent with the man of honor and with my duty to my king and country, and this will soon be apparent to the public as it is now to all here who know me. I do not find that I have lost a single friend on the occasion. All have visited me repeatedly with affectionate assurances of their unaltered respect and affection, and many of distinction, with whom I had before but slight acquaintance. You know that in England there is every day, in almost every paper, some abuse on public persons of all parties, the king himself does not always escape, and the populace, who are used to it, love to have a good character cut up now and then for their entertainment. On this occasion it suited the purpose of the ministry to have me abused, as it often suits the purposes of their opposers to abuse them. And having myself been long engaged in public business, this treatment is not new to me. I am almost as much used to it as they are themselves, and perhaps can bear it better. I have indeed lost a little place that was in their power, but I can do very well without it. It will not be long before I publish my vindication, which some circumstances keep back at present.

Sir John Pringle continues well. His speech in giving the last medal, on the subject of the discoveries Edition: current; Page: [333] relating to the air, did him great honor. Dr. Priestley goes on rapidly with new and curious experiments on that subject. He is about printing a new 8vo book full of them.

Mr. Walsh has just made a curious discovery in electricity. You know we find that in refined air it would pass more freely and leap through greater spaces than in denser air; and thence it was concluded that in a perfect vacuum it would pass any distance without the least obstruction. But having made a perfect vacuum by means of boiled mercury in a long Torricellian bent tube, its ends immersed in cups full of mercury, he finds that the vacuum will not conduct at all, but resists the passage of the electric fluid, absolutely as much as if it was glass itself. This may lead to new principles and new views in the atmospheric part of philosophy. I am ever, my dear friend,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 August, 1774
West Wycombe
William Franklin
Franklin, William


Dear Son:

I have been here with Lord Le Despencer about a week for a little country air and exercise. I wrote to you per Captain Falconer, and have nothing to add, but to let you know that I continue very well and hearty.

Methinks ’t is time to think of a profession for Temple (who is now upwards of fourteen), that the remainder of his education may have some relation to it. I have thought he may make an expert lawyer, as he has a good memory, quick parts, and ready Edition: current; Page: [334] elocution. He would certainly make an excellent painter, having a vast fondness for drawing, which he pursues with unwearied industry, and has made great proficiency. But I do not find that he thinks of it as a business. The only hint of inclination he has given is that of being a surgeon; but it was slightly mentioned. It is indeed my wish that he might learn some art by which he could at any time procure a subsistence; and after that, if any thing better could be done for him, well and good. But posts and places are precarious dependencies. I would have him a free man. Upon the whole, in my opinion, we should turn him to the law, as a profession reputable in itself; and as the knowledge he may gain in that study will qualify him for other employments, and be serviceable to him if he were to be only a mere gentleman.1

If I return this year it will probably be in the September packet. But I begin to have some doubts.

With love to Betsey, I am ever your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 September
William Franklin
Franklin, William


Dear Son:

I received yours of July 3d, from New York, with the bill of exchange for forty Edition: current; Page: [335] pounds, on Cobham, Bond & Ryland, which is carried to the credit of your account.

I have spoken in Mr. Antill’s favor; but there seems to have been a previous disposition of those places.

At the time of making up the mail for the August packet I was down at Lord Le Despencer’s, and wrote the above letter to you from thence, franked by his Lordship. A week after the packet had sailed my letter was returned to me, having been, by a blunder at the office, sent to Burlington, in Yorkshire. I have now opened it to add this, and send it re-sealed to have the benefit of the same frank.

I am glad you have met with my friend Barrow. I wish you to cultivate his acquaintance, and Mrs. Barrow’s, who is a good and amiable woman.

I am much obliged to Mr. Panton for his information relating to Mr. Parker’s affairs. Cousin Jonathan Williams, an expert and accurate accomptant, is now with me, and engaged in posting and settling my accounts, which will be done before the next packet, when I shall send what concerned Parker’s. In the meantime I think it cannot be amiss for you or Mr. Bache to accept any security Mrs. Parker is willing to give. (You mention some lands.) I think I gave a power to Mr. Bache.

You say my presence is wished for at the Congress, but no person besides in America has given Edition: current; Page: [336] me the least intimation of such a desire, and it is thought by the great friends of the colonies here that I ought to stay till the result of the Congress arrives, when my presence here may, they suppose, be of use. In my opinion all depends on the Americans themselves. If they make and keep firm resolutions not to consume British manufactures till their grievances are redressed and their rights acknowledged, this ministry must fall, and the aggrieving laws be repealed. This is the opinion of all wise men here.

I hear nothing of the proposal you have made for a congress of governors, etc.

I do not, so much as you do, wonder that the Massachusetts have not offered payment for the tea: 1. Because of the uncertainty of the act, which gives them no surety that the port shall be opened on their making that payment. 2. No specific sum is demanded. 3. No one knows what will satisfy the custom-house officers, nor who the “others” are that must be satisfied, nor what will satisfy them. And 4. After all, they are in the king’s power how much of the port shall be opened. As to “doing justice before they ask it,” that should have been thought of by the Legislature here before they demanded it of the Bostonians. They have extorted many thousand pounds from America unconstitutionally, under color of acts of Parliament and with an armed force. Of this money they ought to make restitution. They might first have taken out payment for the tea, etc., and returned the rest. But you who are a thorough courtier see everything with government eyes.

Edition: current; Page: [337]

I am sorry for the loss of Sir. W. Johnson, especially at this time of danger from an Indian war. I see by the papers you were with him at the time.

Mr. Parker, of Amboy, has written to Mr. Wilmot that the king’s approbation of the Boundary Act is not arrived. I sent duplicates of it last winter to Messrs. Kinsey & Hewlings: one by the packet, the other by a Philadelphia ship. As you know they have received them, pray request them to acquaint Mr. Parker.

A fresh memorial has lately been presented on the Ohio affair. The event still uncertain. But Mr. Walpole continues confident that sooner or later it must succeed.

A Spanish war is now seriously apprehended here, and the stocks of course are falling.

The August packet is hourly expected, when I hope to hear of your safe returned health.

With love to Betsey, I am ever your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 May, 1775
William Franklin
Franklin, William


I don’t understand it as any favor to me or to you, the being continued in an office by which, with all your prudence, you cannot avoid running behindhand, if you live suitably to your station. While you are in it I know you will execute it with fidelity to your master, but I think independence more honorable than any service, and that in the state of Edition: current; Page: [338] American affairs which, from the present arbitrary measures, is likely soon to take place, you will find yourself in no comfortable situation, and perhaps wish you had soon disengaged yourself.

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 December, 1777
Jonathan Williams
Williams, Jonathan


Dear Nephew:

You need be under no concern as to your orders being only from Mr. Deane. As you have always acted up rightly and ably for the public service, you would be justified if you had no orders at all, but as he generally consulted with me and had my approbation in the orders he gave, and I know they were for the best and aimed at the public good, I hereby certify you that I approve and join in these you have received from him and desire you to proceed in the execution of the same.

B. Franklin.


“L’abbé Niccoli prie Monsieur franklin de lui faire l’honneur de venir dejeuner chés luy Mercredy matin 28 de ce mois à 9 heures du matin. Il luy donnera une bonne tasse de chocolat.

Il L’assure de son respect.”

The above is a note from Abbé Niccoli, Minister of the Grand Duke (of Tuscany). The intention of Edition: current; Page: [339] it was to give the Emperor an opportunity of an interview with me, that should appear accidental. M. Turgot and L’Abbé were there to be present, and, by their knowledge of what passed, to prevent or contradict false reports. The Emperor did not appear, and the Abbé since tells me that the number of other persons who occasionally visited him that morning, of which the Emperor was informed, prevented his coming; that at 12, understanding they were gone, he came; but I was gone also.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 January, 1778



The account given in the newspapers of my having furnished the physicians with a receipt against the dropsy is a mistake. I know nothing of it, nor did I ever hear before that tobacco ashes had any such virtue. I thank you for your kind congratulations on our late successes and good wishes for the establishment of our liberty. I have the honor to be respectfully, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 September, 1778
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.


We have made overtures to the G—— P——. We took that to be a regular and kind mode of Edition: current; Page: [340] proceeding. We expect an answer. If he gives us none, we shall naturally conclude that there is no disposition in their H H: M M: to have any connection with the United States of America; and, I believe, we shall give them no further trouble—at least that would be my opinion. I know your nation, having been frequently there, and much esteeming the people, and wishing for a firm union between the two republics. On the other side, our virgin state is a jolly one, and though at present not very rich, will in time be a great fortune to any suitor, and where she has a favorable predisposition, it seems to me to be well worth cultivating. Cæteræ desunt.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 May, 1779
M. de Chaumont
de Chaumont, M.


Dear Sir:

I received the letter you did me the honor to write to me the 1st inst. That enclosed for the Marquis de Lafayette was sent to him directly. The other, for M. de Sartine, was carried to Marly by my son; but he being at Paris, it was brought back and delivered to him there the next morning. His answer has been ever since expected, to be returned by your express, but not arriving, we suppose he has sent it by some other opportunity. All Paris now talks of the Marquis de Lafayette’s going to America with troops, etc. From Holland I have certain advice, that the States-General have come to a resolution to give convoys to their merchant ships, notwithstanding the last memorial of Sir Joseph Edition: current; Page: [341] York; and to fit out immediately 32 sail of men-of-war for that purpose. This resolution was taken the 26th past. With the greatest esteem and affection, I am ever, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
6 December, 1779
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul



As the arrangements that M. le Duc de la Vauguyon, Ambassador of the King in Holland, must make with the States-General, for the free departure from the Texel of the French and American vessels assembled there, may require that the English prisoners taken in merchant ships, and at present on board the Alliance, should be in the disposition of the Ambassador, I do hereby desire and order, that the said prisoners be sent on board the Pallas and the Vengeance whenever M. le Duc de la Vauguyon shall require it. With much esteem and best wishes for your prosperity, I have the honor to be, sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.


The memorial of the Honorable Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Wharton humbly sheweth:

That on the 5th day of November, 1768, his Edition: current; Page: [342] Britannic Majesty, at a congress held with the Six Nations of Indians at Fort Stanwick, purchased from the said Indians a very extensive tract of country, situate near the province of New York, and upon the river Ohio in North America, the limits and boundaries of which tract are mentioned and described in the deed of sale and conveyance from the said Indians to his said Majesty. That the consideration paid by his said Majesty’s agent to the said Indians, on their executing the said conveyance, amounted to £10,460 7s. 3d. sterling, exclusive of other considerations referred to in the said conveyance.

That in June, 1769, a petition was presented to his said Majesty by your memorialists, in behalf of themselves and several persons residing in the United States and Great Britain, proposing to purchase 2,400,000 acres, part of the said tract, at such price and subject to such quit-rents as should be thought reasonable, and the petitioners humbly proposed that a grant of the lands, under the great seal of Great Britain, should be made to them and their heirs and assigns; and that such grant should particularly specify the several and respective boundaries and limits within which the lands thereby granted should be located or set out.

That the said petition having been referred, by his said Majesty in council, to the Earl of Hillsborough and the other Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, your memorialists and several of their associates attended their Lordships in the month of December, 1769, on the subject of the said petition, Edition: current; Page: [343] when the Earl of Hillsborough was pleased to recommend to the petitioners to endeavor to contract with the Lords Commissioners of the British Treasury for such part of the said lands, purchased from the said Six Nations, lying on the river Ohio, as would be sufficient in extent to form a separate government; and your memorialists and their associates acceding to this suggestion and recommendation, his Lordship immediately went from the Board of Trade to the said Board of Treasury, desiring the petitioners to wait till his return, when his Lordship was pleased to inform the petitioners that he had applied in their behalf to the Duke of Grafton, Lord North, and the other Lords of the said Treasury Board, which was then sitting, who had signified their desire to receive the proposal of the petitioners for purchasing such tract of land as was recommended to them to contract for as aforesaid.

That accordingly, on the 4th day of January, 1770, a memorial was presented to the said Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, proposing to purchase the tract of land, hereinafter described, and to pay the sum of £10,460 7s. 3d. sterling money of Great Britain for the same, and a quit-rent of two shillings for every hundred acres of cultivable land within the said tract; the said quit-rent to commence after the expiration of twenty years. The boundaries of which tract of land were described in a paper annexed to the said memorial, and are as follows: Beginning on the south side of the river Ohio, opposite to the mouth of Scioto, thence southerly through the pass in the Quasioto Mountains to the Edition: current; Page: [344] south side of the said mountains, thence along the side of the said mountains northeasterly to the fork of the great Kenhawa made by the junction of Green Briar and New River, thence along the said Green Briar River on the easterly side of the same into the head or termination of the northeasterly branch thereof, thence easterly to the Alleghany Mountains, thence along the said Alleghany Mountains to Lord Fairfax’s line, thence along the same to the spring head of the north branch of the river Potosomack, thence along the western boundary line of the province of Maryland to the southern boundary line of the province of Pennsylvania, thence along the said boundary line of the province of Pennsylvania to the end thereof, thence along the western boundary line of the said province of Pennsylvania until the same shall strike the river Ohio, thence down the said river Ohio to the place of beginning.

That the said Lords Commissioners of the Treasury took into consideration the said memorial and paper containing a description of the lands applied for, and agreed to accept the price offered to be paid for the purchase of the said lands, in case the other departments of his said Majesty’s government, who were the proper judges of the policy of the grant applied for, should approve such grant, but with respect to the quit-rents proposed to be reserved, and the periods at which they should commence, their said Lordships postponed any decision thereon till they received information from the Earl of Hillsborough and the Board of Trade what quit-rents were reserved on grants in his said Majesty’s colonies which Edition: current; Page: [345] lie nearest to the lands in question, and from what periods after the grants such quit-rents commenced respectively.

That on the 19th day of January, 1770, the Earl of Hillsborough transmitted to the said Board of Treasury an account of the quit-rents reserved in such grants of lands in North America as were nearest to the lands applied for.

That your memorialists and their associates being informed that Arthur Lee, Esq., who had prayed his said Majesty, on the 16th day of March, 1768, to give and grant to him and his associates 250,000 acres of the said land, had presented a petition to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, as had also Colonel George Mercer, in behalf of the Ohio Company (who claimed 500,000 acres within the limits of the tract prayed for), and that the said petitions had been transmitted to the said Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, for the purpose of staying the grant of the lands to your memorialists and their associates. They, therefore, on the fourth day of April, 1770, represented to the said Lords of the Treasury, that as their Lordships had agreed to the sum offered to be paid for the said purchase, and nothing was wanting to complete the same but fixing the time for the commencement of the quit-rents, they hoped the conclusion of their treaty would not be delayed at the request of the said petitioners.

That on the 7th of April, 1770, the Lord Commissioners of the Treasury having been attended by your memorialists and several of their associates, their Edition: current; Page: [346] Lordships acquainted them that as the matter contained in the said petition (of Colonel Mercer) related singly to the question, how far the grant to your memorialists and their associates could be made consistently with justice, it could not properly come under the consideration of that Board, who had nothing before them but the settlement of the purchase money and quit-rents to be paid, and with respect to these points their Lordships agreed to accept the proposition of the memorialists as to the purchase money and quit-rents to be paid for the said grant.

That on the eighth day of May, 1770, your memorialists and their associates presented a petition to his said Majesty in council, praying that a grant of the said lands should be made to them, reserving therein to all persons their just and legal rights to any parts or parcels of said lands, which might be comprehended within the tract prayed for by the memorialists.

That your memorialists and their associates having agreed with the said Colonel George Mercer on behalf of the Ohio Company, he withdrew his application to his said Majesty for a separate grant of lands within the tract prayed for by the memorialists, and relinquished all claim thereto.

That on the twenty-fifth day of May, 1770, the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs referred to the Lord Commissioners for Trade and Plantations the memorialists’ said petition of the 8th of May, 1770.

That in July, 1770, when the aforesaid petition was under the consideration of the Lords Commissioners Edition: current; Page: [347] for Trade and Plantations, the Earl of Hillsborough was pleased to send for and acquaint your memorialists and several of their associates, that the said Commissioners were of the opinion that the government of Virginia should be furnished with copies of all papers relating to your memorialists’ and associates’ contract with the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and that until such time as an answer was received to a letter which the Earl of Hillsborough was directed by his Britannic Majesty to write to the governor of the colony (inclosing the said papers), all further proceedings with your memorialists and their associates touching the premises must be suspended; but his Lordship was pleased to assure your memorialists and several of their associates that he should, by the said king’s express command, forbid the governor of Virginia to grant any warrants for or suffer any surveys to be made on any lands within the boundaries of the contract of your memorialists or beyond the limits prescribed by the royal proclamation of 1763.

That on the 24th of February, 1771, the Honorable Mr. Walpole (one of your memorialists’ associates), understanding that an answer was received from the President and Council of Virginia to the foregoing letter of the Earl of Hillsborough, made application to his Lordship for a copy of the same; and on the day following, his Lordship, by letter, informed Mr. Walpole “that he had directed copies to be made and sent him of such parts of the letter he had received from Virginia as related to your (memorialists’) application for lands in America now before Edition: current; Page: [348] the Board of Trade.” And that accordingly your memorialists and their associates were furnished with copies of such parts of Mr. President Nelson’s letter (dated Williamsburgh, October 18, 1770) as related to their contract aforesaid, by which it appeared that all the proceedings concerning the said contract with the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury (transmitted as above by order of the Board of Trade), and the Earl of Hillsborough’s letter of the 20th of July, 1770 (forbidding, by the said king’s order, the granting of any more lands westward of the Alleghany Mountains), had been received, “read in council, and maturely considered.”

That it also appeared that the said President and Council had represented to the Earl of Hillsborough that “his late Majesty (George II.) had been pleased to order 200,000 acres of land to be granted to the Ohio Company, and that Governor Dinwiddie had by proclamation promised 200,000 acres on or near the Ohio to such persons as would voluntarily enter the king’s service for the defence of the frontiers, etc. [as upon reference being had to the said letter will more particularly appear]; but at the same time the said President [and Council] observed ‘that in all other grants he did not find any steps had been taken towards surveying and seating them. Of course [he added] they are or will become lapsed,’ and also that ‘we do not presume to say to whom our gracious sovereign should grant his vacant lands. All that we can consistently with our duty hope for is that all prior rights, whether equitable or legal, may be preserved and protected.”

Edition: current; Page: [349]

That upon the Earl of Hillsborough receiving the foregoing letter his Lordship wrote to Mr. President Nelson January 2, 1771, acknowledged the receipt of his despatches, Nos. 2, 5, and 6, and observed to him “That as the first related to a matter under the consideration of the Lords of Trade, his Majesty had ordered copies thereof and of its enclosures to be sent to that Board; and that his Lordship had no doubt but in the consideration of them attention would be given to the equitable claims of those bona fide letters whose possessions were derived from the grants made to the Ohio Company in 1754, or such as were passed in consequence of instructions from his late Majesty or Lieutenant-Governor Dinwiddie’s proclamation at the commencement of last war.”

That after much attendance and solicitation at the Board of Trade, the Earl of Hillsborough and other Lords Commissioners of that Board did on the fifteenth day of April, 1772, make a report to the said Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs as to the propriety of the grant prayed for by your memorialists and their associates, both in point of policy and justice; and among other reasons assigned by their Lordships against the policy of the said grant they were pleased to observe: That the tract prayed for was out of all advantageous intercourse with Great Britain. . . . And with regard to the justice of the said grant, their Lordships were pleased to report that they presumed this consideration could have reference only to the case of such persons who had already possession of lands in that part of the country, under legal titles, derived Edition: current; Page: [350] from grants made by the Governor and Council of Virginia.

That on the first day of July, 1772, the said Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs took the said report of the said Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations into consideration, and having heard what your memorialists and their associates had to offer thereupon, did humbly report to his said Majesty, that it appeared to them, upon full and mature consideration of the evidence which the petitioners had produced in support of their said petition, the most material part of which had not been produced at the Board of Trade:

1st. That the lands in question had been for some time past and were then in an actual state of settling, numbers of families to a very considerable amount removing thither from his said Majesty’s other colonies.

2d. That the lands in question did not lie beyond all advantageous intercourse with the kingdom of Great Britain.

That the Lords of the said Council for Plantation Affairs did at the same time report to his said Majesty, that it was their opinion that in case his said Majesty should be graciously pleased to make a grant of any part of the lands in question, that the petitioners were best entitled to such mark of his Majesty’s royal favor, in regard they were the first who had made proposals for the purchase from government of lands in his Majesty’s plantations in America, and had agreed to take the whole expense of the civil government on themselves and their Edition: current; Page: [351] Lordships at the same time. That they recommended it to his said Majesty to comply with the prayer of the petitioners; submitted it, as their opinion, that orders should be sent to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs to apprise the tribes of the Six Nations, and their confederates, of such intended settlement; and that the said Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations should be directed to prepare a proper clause or clauses to be inserted in the grant, saving and reserving to the respective occupiers all prior claims to lands within the limits of the said grant, whether derived from equitable or legal titles, and further strictly prohibiting the petitioners and their associates, and their and each and every of their heirs and assigns, from settling, occupying or improving any part of the lands lying between the line which had been settled by the treaty, as well with the tribes of the Six Nations and their confederates, as with the Cherokee Indians, as the boundary line between his said Majesty’s territories and the hunting grounds of the Indians, and the line proposed by the petitioners, beginning on the south side of the river Ohio, opposite to the mouth of Scioto, and running thence southerly through the pass of the Quasioto Mountains to the south side of the said mountains, but that all that part of the said lands comprehended between the said two lines should remain wholly unsettled and unoccupied by the petitioners and their associates, and each and every of their heirs and assigns, until such time as his said Majesty’s allowance and permission for the settling and occupying the same Edition: current; Page: [352] should be first obtained; and lastly, the said Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs did report to his said Majesty, that it was their opinion that, to the end the several persons actually settled, or that might thereafter settle, might be more properly and quietly governed, the said settlement and district should be erected into a separate government in such form and manner as to his said Majesty’s wisdom should seem meet, and other such restrictions and regulations as his said Majesty’s Lord Commissioners for Trade and Plantations should advise.

That on the fourteenth day of August, 1772, his said Majesty, taking the said report of the said Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs into consideration, was pleased with the advice of his privy council to approve thereof, and to order that the Lord Commissioners for Trade and Plantations should consider and report to his Majesty in council, if any, and what terms of settlement and cultivation, and what restrictions and reservations to the British crown were necessary to be inserted in the said grant, exclusive of the money agreed to be paid by the petitioners in consideration of the said tract of land, and the reservation of a quit-rent of two shillings for every hundred acres of cultivable land within the said tract, after the expiration of twenty years and that they should likewise prepare a proper clause or clauses to be inserted therein, for saving and reserving to the respective occupiers all prior claims to lands within the limits of the said intended grant, whether derived under equitable or Edition: current; Page: [353] legal titles; and also strictly prohibiting the petitioners and their associates and each and every of their heirs and assigns, from settling, occupying, or improving any part of the lands which lie between the line which had been settled by treaty, as well with the tribes of the Six Nations and their confederates, as with the Cherokee Indians, as the boundary line between his said Majesty’s territories and the hunting grounds of the Indians, and the line proposed to be drawn by the petitioners (as above described), but that all that part of the said lands comprehended between the said two lines should remain wholly unsettled and unoccupied by the petitioners and their associates, and each and every of their heirs and assigns till such time as the petitioners, their heirs and assigns, should have obtained his said Majesty’s permission and allowance for settling and occupying the same. And his said Majesty was pleased further to order that the said Lords Commissioners for Trades and Plantations should prepare and lay before his Majesty in council a plan for establishing a separate government upon the said tract in such form and manner and under such restrictions and regulations as they should judge proper and expedient, together with an estimate of the expense and the ways and means by which the same should be defrayed by the petitioners.

That on the fourteenth day of August his said Majesty in council was pleased by a further order in council to approve the report of the said Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs; and accordingly to give the necessary directions to the Edition: current; Page: [354] Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations for carrying the same into execution. And his said Majesty was thereby pleased to order that the Right Honorable the Earl of Dartmouth, one of his said Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State, should receive his Majesty’s pleasure for directing his Majesty’s Superintendent for Indian Affairs to apprise the chiefs of the Six Nations, and their confederates, of his Majesty’s intention to form a settlement upon the lands purchased of them by his Majesty in 1768.

That in consequence of the said order of council, the Earl of Dartmouth sent instructions to his Majesty’s Superintendent for Indian Affairs, and in obedience thereto the Deputy Agent for Indian Affairs on the 3d of April, 1773, assembled the chiefs of the Western Nations, and informed them, in his Majesty’s name, of his Majesty’s resolution to form a settlement upon part of the lands purchased of the Six Nations in 1768. And on the sixth day of the same month, the chiefs in council returned an answer, and therein among other things observed, that as their brethren, the white people, had for some years past been settling in great numbers through that country, they could not help being alarmed, as they appeared to do it without the authority of their wise people or any good intentions towards them. That for the peace of the country it was as necessary for prudent people to govern them, as it was for them to take care of their foolish young men. And they desired that his Majesty might be assured that they wished nothing more than to cultivate the strictest friendship with their brethren, the English, in that Edition: current; Page: [355] country. And that it would give them the highest satisfaction to take the person whom his Majesty should appoint to govern there by the hand, and to afford him all the assistance on their parts that they were able to give in renewing and strengthening the chain of friendship and promoting the peace and tranquillity of that part of the country.

That on the sixth day of May, 1773, the Earl of Dartmouth and the other Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations were pleased to report to his said Majesty, that his Majesty having been pleased by his order in council of the 14th of August, 1772, to approve of a report from the right honorable the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs, containing several propositions respecting the application made as aforesaid for a grant of lands upon the river Ohio, in North America, and for erecting the said lands into a separate government, and to direct them to report their opinion touching the conditions of the said grant, and the plan upon which such separate government ought to be established, they did, therefore, in obedience to his said Majesty’s command, take the said order of reference into consideration, and represented to his said Majesty thereupon:

That, as the measures which his said Majesty had been pleased to adopt in regard to his possessions upon the Ohio had, they humbly conceived, been principally founded upon a consideration of the necessity there was for introducing some regular and uniform system of government into a country which, though at present a part of the colony of Virginia, was yet, from its remote situation, incapable of Edition: current; Page: [356] participating of the advantages arising from the civil Constitution of that colony, they did, therefore, make the consideration of the plan of government the first object of their attention; and as they presumed that it was not intended that the limits of the new government to be formed should be confined to the tract proposed to be granted in propriety, but that it should comprehend all such parts of that country as by the agreement of the Indians were reserved for the settlement of his Majesty’s subjects, and which, from their nature and remote situation, could not participate of the advantages of the civil Constitution of any other colony, they therefore craved leave humbly to propose:

1st. That the lands comprehended within the boundaries described in the said report should be separated from the colony of Virginia, and be erected by letters-patent under the great seal of Great Britain into a distinct colony, under the name of Vandalia, and that the form and constitution of government for the said colony should be such as is in and by the said report mentioned and expressed; and particularly that the annual salaries and allowances to the several officers of government within the said new colony should be as follows, viz.:

To the Governor £1,000
To the Chief-Justice 500
To the Assistant Judges 400
To the Attorney-General 150
To the Clerk of the Assembly 50
To the Secretary 200
To the two Ministers 200
Edition: current; Page: [357]

And that in order to secure the payment of the said establishment, together with such further annual sum not exceeding £500 as should be necessary for contingent expenses, five of the persons to whom the lands prayed for, being a part of the lands included within the said new government, should give security in the sum of ten thousand pounds sterling for the payment by the proprietors of the sums above mentioned, either into the receipt of his said Majesty’s exchequer or into the hands of such person as his said Majesty should please to appoint to receive the same, the said payments to be made half yearly, and the first payment to be made at the expiration of six months from the date of the governor’s commission, and to continue to be paid half yearly as aforesaid until provision should have been made by some act of General Assembly, to be approved of by his said Majesty, for the support of the said establishment.

That pursuant to his said Majesty’s order in council of the fourteenth day of August, 1772, so much and such part of the land included within the limits of the new colony as are hereinafter mentioned be granted to your memorialists and their associates—that is to say, all the lands included within the following lines, viz., “beginning at the south side of the river Ohio, opposite to the mouth of Scioto; then southerly through the pass of the Quasioto Mountains, to the south side of the said mountains; then along the side of the said mountains northeasterly to the fork of the Great Kenhawa, made by the junction of Green Briar River and New River; thence along the said Green Briar River, on the easterly side Edition: current; Page: [358] of the same, unto the head or termination of the northeasterly branch thereof; thence easterly to the Alleghany Mountains; thence along the said Alleghany Mountains to Lord Fairfax’s line; thence along the same to the spring head of the north branch of the river Potomack; thence along the western boundary line of the province of Maryland to the southern boundary line of the province of Pennsylvania; thence along the said boundary line of the Province of Pennsylvania to the end thereof; thence along the western boundary line of the said province of Pennsylvania until the same shall strike the river Ohio; thence down the said river Ohio to the place of beginning.”

That the said grant should be made upon the following conditions and reservations—that is to say, that the grantees should, upon the day of the date of the grant, pay into the receipt of his Majesty’s exchequer the sum of ten thousand four hundred and sixty pounds seven shillings and threepence pursuant to the agreement made with his said Majesty’s treasury on the 7th of April, 1770.

That the said grantees should yearly, and every year for ever, pay to his said Majesty, his heirs and successors, or to such person or persons as his said Majesty should appoint to receive the same, the sum of two shillings sterling for every hundred acres which they should lease, let, demise, plant, or settle, whether the said lands be settled and planted by the said grantees themselves or by their heirs or assigns or undertenants, the said payment not to commence until the expiration of twenty years after Edition: current; Page: [359] such leasing, letting, demising, planting, or settling respectively.

That for the better ascertaining and securing the payment of the said quit-rent, all agreements for possession, leases, grants, conveyances, demises, plantings, settlements, or proper memorials thereof, should be within six months from the date thereof transmitted to the auditor of the plantations in Great Britain, and that all such agreements for possession, leases, grants, conveyances, demises, plantings, settlements, or memorials thereof, should not be admitted as evidence in any court of law unless the same were registered and recorded as above.

That in each of the parishes, into which the several counties within the province should be divided, there should be a tract of three hundred acres reserved for the purpose of a glebe for the support of a minister of the Church of England, and that such glebe land should be granted by the proprietors or their heirs or assigns as soon as a proper church should be built and twelve vestrymen elected out of such of the parishioners as should subscribe to and profess the doctrine of the Church of England, and that the said grants be made free from any quit-rents or other rents or services whatsoever.

That the said grantees should, within the space of one year from the date of the grant, erect and build or cause to be erected and built, at their own proper cost and charges within such part of the province granted to them as his said Majesty should direct and appoint a house proper for the residence of his said Majesty’s governor, and also a church.

Edition: current; Page: [360]

That all prior claims to lands within the limits of the said grant, whether derived under equitable or legal titles, should be saved and reserved to the respective occupiers and possessors, with exception, however, to all occupancy of what nature or kind soever taken or made subsequent to the agreement for the purchase of the said grant made with the Lords of the Treasury on the fourth day of January, 1770, and provided also that the grant of two hundred thousand acres to be made to the officers of the regiment, raised and paid by the colony of Virginia in 1754, in consequence of the engagement made to them, should be located in one continuous tract.

That there should be a reservation to his said Majesty, his heirs and successors, of all mines of gold, silver, precious stones, and of a right of erecting on any part of the said lands such forts and fortifications as might hereafter be judged necessary for the security and defence of the posssesions of the crown of England in America.

And lastly, their Lordships humbly craved leave to represent to his said Majesty that they had omitted any restriction upon the proprietors from settling to the west of the line agreed upon with the Cherokees at Lochabor in October, 1770; that restriction having, as they conceived, become altogether unnecessary, as the Indians had, for the sake of a natural boundary, consented that the district reserved to his said majesty for settlement should be bounded on the southwest by the river Louisa or Catawba River, which is very far west of the utmost Edition: current; Page: [361] extent of the tract proposed to be granted in propriety.

That on the nineteenth day of May, 1773, his said Majesty was pleased by an order in council of that day to refer the said report of the Earl of Dartmouth and the other Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations to the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs.

That on the third day of July, 1773, their Lordships, by an order in council bearing date that day, were pleased to observe that his said Majesty having been pleased by his order in council of the 19th of May last to refer unto that committee a report made by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations [in pursuance of his said Majesty’s order in council of the 14th of August, 1772], proposing amongst other things the several conditions and reservations to be inserted in the grant of certain lands on the Ohio in North America prayed for by your memorialists and their associates, the Lords of the Committee that day took the same into consideration, and were thereby pleased to order that his said Majesty’s attorney and solicitor-general should prepare and lay before that committee a draught of a proper instrument, to be passed under the great seal of Great Britain, containing a grant to Thomas Walpole, Esq., and others, his associates, of the lands prayed for by their memorial, inserting in said draught the conditions and reservations proposed in the said report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, a copy whereof was thereunto annexed.

Edition: current; Page: [362]

That on the sixteenth day of July, 1773, his said Majesty’s attorney and solicitor-general made a report to the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs on the said order of council [of July 3, 1773], and after due consideration of the said report, their Lordships were pleased on the twenty-eighth day of October, 1773, to make the following mandatory order thereupon, viz.:

By the Right Honorable, the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs.

‘Whereas there was this day laid before their Lordships a report from his Majesty’s attorney and solicitor-general upon taking into consideration an order of this Committee bearing date the 3d of July last, whereby they are directed to prepare a draught of a proper instrument, to be passed under the great seal of Great Britain, containing a grant to the Honorable Thomas Walpole, and others, his associates, of certain lands on the river Ohio, in North America, inserting in the said draught the conditions and reservations proposed in a report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, bearing date the 6th day of May, 1773, a copy whereof was annexed to the said order, in which report of his Majesty’s said attorney and solicitor-general it is humbly submitted: that the granting the said lands in joint tenancy will probably render it impossible to make any undergrants with complete titles; that the description of the thing to be granted is much Edition: current; Page: [363] more loose and uncertain than hath been usual in royal grants or than hath been practised, so far as they know, in any but the grants which were made for the erection of colonies to the first adventurers in America while it was wholly unknown; and further, that the quit-rents will not be so well secured to his Majesty if they are not reserved from the lands undergranted instead of being made payable by the grantees, the Lords of the Committee this day took the said report into consideration, and are hereby pleased to order that his Majesty’s attorney and solicitor-general do prepare and lay before this Committee the draught of a proper instrument, to be passed under the great seal of Great Britain, containing a grant to the Honorable Thomas Walpole, Samuel Wharton, Benjamin Franklin, and John Sarjent, Esquires, and their heirs and assigns, of the lands prayed for by their memorial (they being the persons who, in behalf of themselves and their associates, contracted for the said lands with the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury), inserting in the said draught the conditions and reservations proposed in the said report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, dated the 6th of May, 1773, excepting that part of the said report which proposes that the grantees do pay the quit-rents to his Majesty, his heirs and successors; and in respect thereof, the Lords of the Committee are hereby pleased to order that the said quit-rents be reserved from the lands which shall be leased, sold, demised, planted, or settled, whether the said lands be planted and settled by the said grantees themselves Edition: current; Page: [364] or by their heirs or assigns or undertenants; the said payment of the quit-rents not to commence until the expiration of twenty years after such leasing, demising, planting, or settling respectively. And for the better ascertaining the bounds of the said tract of land to be granted as aforesaid, their Lordships are hereby pleased to transmit the map of the tract of land prayed for by the memorialists, and to order that his Majesty’s attorney and solicitor-general do insert the bounds in the same manner as they are described and ascertained in the said report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, dated the 6th of May, 1773.”

That your memorialists and their associates understanding in the autumn of 1774, that the Earl of Dunmore, the then Governor of Virginia, had presumed to pass grants for some lands comprehended within the bounds of their contract aforesaid, represented the same to the Earl of Dartmouth, at that time Secretary of State for the American Department, and his Lordship was pleased to convey his Britannic Majesty’s command to the said Governor in the following words:

Lord Dartmouth
Dartmouth, Lord
5 October, 1774
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
My Lord:

As your Lordship says that you were entirely ignorant of the claims of Walpole and his associates, otherwise than by common report, I think fit to enclose your Lordship a copy of Lord Hillsborough’s letter to Lord Bottetourt of the 20th July, 1770, the receipt of which was acknowledged by Mr. President Nelson a few days after Lord Edition: current; Page: [365] Bottetourt’s death, and appears by his answer to it to have been laid before the Council. That Board, therefore, could not be ignorant of what has passed here upon Mr. Walpole’s application, nor of the king’s express command, contained in Lord Hillsborough’s letter, that no land whatever should be granted beyond the limits of the royal proclamation of 1763, until the king’s further pleasure was signified, and I have only to observe, that it must have been a very extraordinary neglect in them not to have informed your Lordship of that letter and those orders.

“I am, etc.,
[Signed] Dartmouth.

That in the spring of 1775, the draught of a royal grant for the lands aforesaid being prepared, pursuant to the said order of council, and having undergone the examination and correction of Lord Camden and others of your memorialists’ associates in England, the Lord President of his Majesty’s Privy Council requested that the Honorable Mr. Walpole and his associates would wait for the grant aforesaid and the plan of government of Vandalia, until hostilities, which had then commenced between Great Britain and the United Colonies, should cease.

That your memorialists and their associates did incur a great loss of time [particularly Samuel Wharton in the absence of more than eight years from his family connections and affairs] and expended the sum of nine thousand five hundred and fifty-seven pounds thirteen shillings and sixpence sterling money of Edition: current; Page: [366] Great Britain in conducting this business through the various offices and departments of the British government, and in making presents to the Indians on the river Ohio, in order to maintain peace and tranquillity there, and by these means, together with the before recited contract between them and the said British government, your memorialists and their associates did acquire an equitable title to the lands in question, notwithstanding the instrument for actually conveying the same was not completed on account of the difference which arose between the United Colonies and Great Britain, and as your Honors have now succeeded to the sovereignty of the territory in question, your memorialists confide: that you will think it just and reasonable to consider the said lands as subject to such contracts and dispositions as were made concerning them while they confessedly belonged to the British crown; and that your memorialists and their associates, who have ever been ready to fulfil their parts of the said contract, may not suffer so great an injury by a change of sovereignty as to be deprived of their equitable rights to the said lands.

Your memorialists therefore humbly pray that the said lands may be granted to them, and to their heirs and assigns (in trust, nevertheless, for and concerning the respective purports and shares belonging to their several associates), upon the terms and conditions of the said contract and order of council, or upon such other terms as may be convenient to the interests of the United States and not injurious to your memorialists and their associates.

Edition: current; Page: [367]

And your memorialists, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, etc.

Saml. Wharton.
B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 March, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul


Dear Sir:

I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me the 25th and 28th past.

I am glad to learn that you can take a quantity of the clothing and arms, and that you can accommodate the four gentlemen I had mentioned to you. M. De Sartine desires also a place for a passenger that goes on some business from him; I make no doubt of your willingness to oblige that Minister. I could wish also that you would find room for Mr. Brown, of South Carolina, who is about returning there. I do not know that I have authority to give the order you desire to Lieutenant Rhodes. But if you and he agree in the transportation proposed, I have no objection to it. Captain Landais has demanded of me an order to you to deliver him his trunks and things that were left on board the Alliance. I find him so exceedingly captious and critical, and so apt to misconstrue, as an intended injustice, every expression in our language he does not immediately understand, that I am tired of writing any thing for him or about him, and am determined to have nothing further to do with him. I make no doubt, however, that you will deliver his things to any Edition: current; Page: [368] person he may empower to receive them, and therefore think such an order unnecessary.

I have not yet received an answer to the memorial I sent to the court of Denmark, reclaiming the prizes sent into Norway and delivered up unjustly by that court to the British consul. I have not heard that they have yet left Bergen. I hope we may yet recover them or their value.

There is a Mr. Lockyer, who has served twenty-two years in the British navy as a master, and, having met with some injustice, would go to America in hopes of finding service there. He wishes to go with you, and if you can give him any employment on board it will be very agreeable to him.

Dr. Bancroft, being by this time with you, will take all steps possible to promote your refitting, and forward the payment of the prize money. I do not comprehend what the weight of metal has to do with the division, unless where ships are fitted out by different owners.

I hope your indisposition will soon be over and your health re-established, being, with sincere esteem, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 March, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul


Dear Sir:

I received your favor of the 3d inst. I find the arms are to be sent in one of the king’s ships. I enclose an order for the cannon which you Edition: current; Page: [369] say you can take as ballast. To the other particulars of your letter I shall endeavor to answer to-morrow. With great esteem I am, dear sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.

A muster-roll of the Bonhomme Richard will be wanted, I understand, in order to divide the produce of the prizes.

Mr. Ross having wrote me word that he shall go in the Luzerne, I request you to take in his stead Captain Hutchins, a very worthy American, who has suffered much for his attachment to our cause.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 June, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul



I have received a letter from the Board of Admiralty containing their orders for the return of the Alliance, a copy of which is annexed for your government; and I hereby direct that you carry the same into execution with all possible expedition.

With great regard I am, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

[Copy of Order sent to Captain Landais.]

To the Commanding officer for the time being of the frigateAlliancebelonging to the United States of America.


You are hereby directed to receive on board the said frigate as many cases of fusils and as much Edition: current; Page: [370] of the gunpowder ready to be delivered to you by order of his Excellency the Prince de Montbarey, Minister of War, as you can conveniently stow, giving a receipt for the same; and the same, together with the powder, arms, and cannon already shipped, to transport to Philadelphia, and deliver the whole to the Board of Admiralty there for the use of the Congress, for doing which this order shall be your warrant.


B. Franklin.
Minister P., etc., etc.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
12 June, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul


Dear Sir:

Saturday morning last I received a letter signed by about 115 of the sailors of the Alliance, declaring that they would not raise the anchor, nor depart from L’Orient, till they had six months’ wages paid them, and the utmost farthing of their prize money, including the ships sent into Norway, and until their legal Captain P. Landais is restored to them; or to that effect, for I have not the letter before me. This mutiny has undoubtedly been excited by that captain, probably by making them believe that satisfaction has been received for those Norway prizes delivered up to the English, which, God knows, is not true; the court of Denmark not having yet resolved to give us a shilling on that account. That he is concerned in this meeting, he has been foolish enough to furnish us with proofs, the sailors’ letter being not only enclosed under a cover Edition: current; Page: [371] directed to me in his handwriting, but he has also in the same writing interlined the words their legal Captain P. Landais, which happened to contain his signature. I went immediately to Versailles to demand the assistance of government, and on showing the letter by which his signature quite plainly appeared, an order was immediately granted and sent away the same evening, for apprehending and imprisoning him, and orders were promised to be given at the same time to the Commissary of the Port, to afford you all kind assistance to facilitate your departure; M. De Chaumont being with me, and assisting warmly in obtaining these orders. We thought it best at the same time to give directions, that those sailors who have signed this letter should not be favored with receiving any part of the money ordered to be advanced in part of what it is supposed the Serapis and Countess may be sold for, unless to such as express their sorrow for having been so misled, and willingness to do their duty; and that they may be known, their letter was sent down to M. de Monplaiser; but care should be taken that it be returned, as it contains the proofs above mentioned against Landais, who will probably be tried for his life, being considered by the Ministers as an emigrant without the king’s permission, and therefore still a Frenchman, and when found in France still subject to its laws. When that advance was ordered, it was supposed the vessels might have been got away without waiting for the sale, and that the people who had a right to share them, receiving this in part to relieve their present necessities, might have Edition: current; Page: [372] appointed some agent to receive and remit the rest to them in America, but the delays have been so great that the time of sale now approaches, and perhaps the produce may be known before you can be ready to depart with the Ariel, and if ready money is paid the division may be made at once. If any unforeseen difficulties should arise to prevent this, I see no other way but to separate those who cannot trust to their country to do them justice, and put them on shore, and let them wait for their shares at their own expense, for ’t is unreasonable to keep the ship here at so monstrous an expense to the public, for their private advantage or humors. As to wages, I have no authority or means of paying wages here; and I believe that all maritime states pay their ships at home, for it cannot be supposed that pay-officers are to be kept in every port of the world to which ships may happen to go; besides it cannot be known here what their families or attorneys have received for them. I see you are likely to have a great deal of trouble. It requires prudence. I wish you well through it. You have shown your abilities in fighting. You have now an opportunity of showing the other necessary part in the character of a great chief,—your abilities in governing. Adieu.

Yours sincerely,
B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 June, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul


Dear Sir:

I have this minute received yours of the 23d. The letter you mention having sent me by Edition: current; Page: [373] the last post, enclosing the necessary papers to explain circumstances, is not come to hand; so that I am much in the dark about your present situation. I only learn by other means that the Alliance is gone out of the port, and that you are not likely to recover and have relinquished the command of her. So that affair is over, and the business is now to get the goods out as well as we can. I am perfectly bewildered with the different schemes that have been proposed to me for this purpose by Mr. Williams, Mr. Ross, yourself, and M. De Chaumont. Mr. Williams was for purchasing ships. I told him I had not the money, but he still urges it. You and Mr. Ross proposed borrowing the Ariel. I joined in the application for that ship. We obtained her. She was to carry all that the Alliance could not take. Now you find her insufficient. An additional ship has already been asked, and could not be obtained. I think therefore it will be best that you take as much in the Ariel as you can and depart with it. For the rest I must apply to the government to contrive some means of transporting it in their own ships. This is my present opinion. And when I have once got rid of this business, no consideration shall tempt me to meddle again with such matters, as I never understand them.

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [374]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
12 August, 1780
John Paul Jones
Jones, John Paul



You are hereby directed to proceed as soon as possible with the ship under your command to the port you can best make in North America, and deliver the arms, powder, and other stores to such officers of Congress as are appointed to take care of such matters, for which this shall be your order. I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 November, 1780
John Paul Jones
Jones, John Paul


Dear Sir:

I received the honor of yours of the 17th instant. I was dissatisfied with Mr. Moylan’s proceedings in going on with so great and unexpected an expense for the Ariel, and never giving me the least notice of it till he drew upon me for the amount, near one hundred thousand livres, drawing, too, before sending the account; and when the account on my demanding it was sent, it came only when the last bills were presented and their acceptance demanded, which I must either refuse or take the account as it stood without examination, or a possibility of examination, the vouchers not accompanying it. And if I accepted the bills, it would be to little purpose afterwards to dispute the articles I might object to. However, on its being made to appear to me by Mr. Gourlade that you had ordered the Edition: current; Page: [375] things I objected to, and supposing that if I refused paying for them he would sue and embarrass you, I some time since accepted all his bills. But though I suppose you thought it for the good of the service, as you say you did, to order that great quantity of medicines for the 74-gun ship, yet after I had written to you of my difficulties, it still seems to me that you ought not to have done it without informing me and obtaining my consent; and I have only to be thankful that you did not order all her other stores,—sails, rigging, anchors, powder, etc. I think you must be sensible, on reflection, that with regard to me it was wrong, and that it ought not to be expected of me to be always ready and able to pay the demands that every officer in the service may think fit to saddle me with. This affair, however, is now done with, and I shall say and think no more about it. I understand from Mr. Moylan that the arms must be left for cleaning. You can take on board some of the other goods from his stores in their room. Your bread, too, he tells me, is damaged. I have not time to write to him by this post, but leave it to him and you to supply that loss in the frugalest manner possible. And I am, with sincerest wishes for your health, honor, and happiness, dear sir, your assured friend and most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 December, 1780
Paul Jones
Jones, Paul


Dear Sir:

I wrote to you per last post, under cover to Mr. Moylan. With this you will receive Edition: current; Page: [376] another letter or two for America. I have just received yours of the 4th. I am sorry you waited for the packets by Mr. Gourlade, as they only contained newspapers; but you could not know that. A gentleman who says he is to sail with you sets off to-morrow, and will carry some more parcels of newspapers, which are too bulky for the post. Be so good as to remember me affectionately to Mr. Wharton, and tell him I am still in his gouty shoes, which I have worn this week past, and thank him for the comfort of them. I wrote to him with the letter to you that was lost, and fear his letter was lost also. Once more I wish you a prosperous voyage, being ever with great esteem, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 April, 1781
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.


Dear Sir:

I received yours of the 29th past, enclosing one for the President of Congress, which I shall take care to forward. I send you herewith a sermon, which I fancy will give you pleasure. Your last seemed to me to have been broken open and sealed again with a larger seal than yours. I know not by what conveyance it came, and I send you the cover and seal that you may judge of it.

With great esteem, I am, sir, etc.,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—Since Mr. Searle’s return from Holland he has avoided all communication with me. I cannot conceive the reason. Can you?

Edition: current; Page: [377]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 August, 1781
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.


Dear Sir:

We have news here that your fleet has behaved bravely. I congratulate you on it most cordially.

I have just received a 14, 5, 3, 10, 28, 2, 76, 203, 66, 11, 12, 273, 50, 14, joining 76, 5, 42, 45, 16, 15, 424, 235, 19, 20, 69, 580, 11, 150, 27, 56, 35, 104, 652, 20, 675, 85, 79, 50, 63, 44, 22, 219, 17, 60, 29, 147, 136, 41, but this is not likely to afford 202, 55, 580, 10, 227, 613, 176, 373, 309, 4, 108, 40, 19, 97, 309, 17, 35, 90, 201, 100, 677.1

By our last advices our affairs were in a pretty good train. I hope we shall soon have advice of the expulsion of the English from Virginia.

I am ever, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 March, 1782
Henry Wild
Wild, Henry


I have received yours of the 18th instant. I omitted answering your former, being informed that your bill had not been honored, whence I conceived that you had imposed on me. I am glad to hear that it is otherwise. Since you were here I have received notice that no more such passports are to be granted, the traders having abused them. So that I Edition: current; Page: [378] must renew my first advice to you and your friends, not to attempt the voyage till a peace, which, by the good disposition that has lately appeared in your Parliament, I hope is not far off. You would, in my opinion, hazard too much, and act imprudently by going sooner. When you do go, you may depend on my doing you every service in my power, being really a friend and well-wisher to all honest, industrious people, and desirous of promoting their happiness.

Richard Price
Price, Richard
5 November, 1785
Newington Green
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin


Dear Friend:

I heard a few days ago with particular pleasure of your safe arrival at Philadelphia, and of the joy with which you were received there. We had been alarmed here by accounts in the public papers of your being taken by an Algerine pirate, and carried into slavery. I was so foolish as to believe this account when I first read it; but a little inquiry and consideration soon convinced me that the distress it gave me was groundless. May you still live to be happy in the respect and gratitude of your country, and to bless it by your counsel. It was a mortification to me that I could not make one of the friends who had the pleasure of being with you at Southampton. I return you many thanks for the kind lines you sent me from thence. They gave me great pleasure.

I received some time ago from Mr. Vaughan a diploma, constituting me a member of the Philosophical Edition: current; Page: [379] Society at Philadelphia. Will you be so good as to convey to the President and other members of the Society, in whatever manner you may think proper, my very grateful acknowledgments? I cannot but be impressed by the honors they have done me, and I hope they will accept my wishes of their increasing credit and prosperity, to which, were it in my power, I should be glad to contribute.

I am sorry for the hostile aspect of affairs between this country and yours. The general cry during the war was, that the colonies were too important to be given up, and that our essential interests depended on keeping them. It seems now to be discovered among us, that they are of no use to us; and the issue may be that we shall lose the trade and friendship of an increasing world, and throw it into the scale of France. Our restraints, however, will do no good to the United States, should their effect be to oblige them to strengthen their federal government, to check their rage for trade, and to render them more independent, by causing them to find all they want within themselves.

Should you happen to see Mr. Vaughan, or any of his family, deliver my kind compliments to them. With every respectful sentiment, the most affectionate regard, I am ever yours,

Richard Price.
Edition: current; Page: [380] Edition: current; Page: [381]


Edition: current; Page: [382] Edition: current; Page: [383]
  • 1706-1734
  • Franklin’s Skeleton Sketch of his Autobiography . page 28
  • The Autobiography as Written . . . . . 31
  • 1735-1753
  • The Speech of Polly Baker . . . . . 129
  • The Drinker’s Dictionary . . . . . . 133
  • To George Whitefield, July 6, 1749 . . . . 266
  • The Importance of Gaining and Preserving the Friendship of the Indians, March 20, 1751 . . . . 332
  • 1753-1763
  • To Joseph Huey, June 6, 1756 . . . . . 131
  • To George Whitefield, July 2, 1756 . . . . 139
  • To Mr. Dunlap, April 4, 1757 . . . . . 170
  • To Henry Potts, April 23, 1761 . . . . . 354
  • To William Strahan, July 20, 1762 . . . . 420
  • To William Strahan, July 23, 1762 . . . . 421
  • To William Strahan, December 2, 1762 . . . 428 Edition: current; Page: [384]
  • B. Franklin’s Services in the General Assembly of Pennsylvania . . . . . . . . 434
  • To ———, February 9, 1763 . . . . . 445

    Expenses and compensation as agent of the province of Pennsylvania in England.

  • To William Strahan, June 2, 1763 . . . . 454
  • To William Strahan, June 10, 1763 . . . . 455
  • 1763-1768
  • To William Strahan, September 22, 1763 . . . 5
  • To William Strahan, March 30, 1764 . . . . 7
  • To William Strahan, June 25, 1764 . . . . 13
  • To William Strahan, September 24, 1764 . . . 15
  • From Mrs. Deborah Franklin, April 7, 1765 . . 137

    Domestic news.

  • To Charles Thomson, July 11, 1765 . . . . 162

    Proprietary government in Philadelphia—Stamp Act.

  • To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, June 13, 1766 . . . 233
  • From William Franklin . . . . . . 237

    Indian murders—Land riots in New York—“The Firebrand” Otis—His triumph over the New Jersey Assembly—Death of Peter Franklin.

  • To Mrs. Mary Franklin, August 26, 1766 . . . 239

    The death of his brother—Provision for his sister.

  • From William Franklin, November 13, 1766 . . 275

    Trouble with Hall, Franklin’s former partner—New printing establishment projected in Franklin’s interest.

  • 1768-1772
  • To Dupont de Nemours, July 28, 1768 . . . 26

    The Economistes—Physiocratie.

  • To the London Chronicle, May 9, 1769 . . . 77
  • To Dupont de Nemours, October 2, 1770 . . . 212
  • From Mrs. Deborah Franklin, October 11, 1770 . . 214 Edition: current; Page: [385]
  • To William Strahan, November 17, 1771 . . . 270
  • To Mr. Timothy, November 3, 1772 . . . . 387
  • To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, December 1, 1772 . . 398
  • To Mr. Abel James, December 2, 1772 . . . 401
  • To William Franklin, December 2, 1772 . . . 402
  • 1773-1775
  • To Joseph Galloway, January 6, 1773 . . . . 63

    Franklin’s remuneration as agent in England—A qualification of his lecture on office-holding.

  • To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 2, 1773 . . 65
  • To Anthony Benezet, February 10, 1773 . . . 67
  • To Messrs. Abel James and Benjamin Morgan, February 10, 1773 . . . . . . . . 68

    Depressed state of silk business in England.

  • To James Johnston, February 10, 1773 . . . 69

    American senna.

  • To Humphrey Marshall, February 14, 1773 . . . 72

    The spots on the sun—Dr. Wilson’s hypothesis.

  • To William Marshall, February 14, 1773 . . . 74

    Scruples about oaths.

  • To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 14, 1773 . . 75

    Presents for his wife and daughter—The death of the “good bishop’s” gray squirrel.

  • To Josiah Davenport, February 14, 1773 . . . 76

    His opinion of the punctuality of cousins.

  • To Joseph Galloway, February 14, 1773 . . . 77

    The effect in England of the loss of the tea market in America.

  • To Mr. Colden, March 3, 1773 . . . . . 84
  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, March 9, 1773 . . . . 87

    Sober second thought.

  • To William Franklin, March 15, 1773 . . . . 94
  • To Abel James and Benjamin Morgan, March 15, 1773 . . . . . . . . . . 94
  • To his Daughter, April 6, 1773 . . . . . 103

    The importance to housekeepers of keeping accounts.

  • To Mr. Coombe, April 6, 1773 . . . . . 105 Edition: current; Page: [386]
  • To Mr. Colden, June 2, 1773 . . . . . 123

    The indolence of the age.

  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, July 7, 1773 . . . . 170
  • To Jonathan Williams, July 7, 1773 . . . . 172
  • To Anthony Benezet, July 14, 1773 . . . . 180
  • To Mr. Foxcroft, July 14, 1773 . . . . . 181
  • To William Franklin, August 3, 1773 . . . . 189
  • To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, September 1, 1773 . . 194
  • To Thomas Cushing, September 23, 1773 . . . 216
  • From Mrs. Deborah Franklin, October 29, 1773 . . 225
  • From his Daughter Sally, October 30, 1773 . . . 226
  • From Thomas Cushing, December 10, 1773 . . . 250

    Preparation for the “Tea Party.”

  • From Thomas Cushing and Others, December 21, 1773 . . . . . . . . . 254

    The “Tea Party.”

  • The Georgia Agency, February 24, 1774 . . . 302
  • From the Committee of the Assembly of Georgia, March 14, 1774 . . . . . . . 327

    The difference between the upper and lower house of the Georgia legislature about Franklin’s reappointment as agent.

  • Queries Relating to the Colonies to be Discussed with Lord C——m . . . . . . . . 330
  • To Thomas Cushing, June 30, 1774 . . . . 346
  • To Thomas Cushing, July 27, 1774 . . . . 349
  • To Thomas Cushing, September 15, 1774 . . . 356
  • To Thomas Cushing, September 27, 1774 . . . 360
  • 1775-1779
  • Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, Proposed in General Congress . . . . . 94
  • To Thomas Morris, December 4, 1776 . . . . 148

    Arrival in France.

  • To Silas Deane, December 4, 1776 . . . . 149

    On his way to France—Captures on his voyage—Shipment of indigo by Congress to pay the Commissioners’ expenses—Requests Deane to notify Lee of his appointment, and to secure lodgings for himself in Paris.

    Edition: current; Page: [387]
  • To M. Barbeu Dubourg, December 4, 1776 . . . 151

    Corrects false impressions prevailing in France about reported military reverses at home.

  • To the Count de Vergennes, December 23, 1776 . . 157

    Notification to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs by the Commissioners of Congress of their appointment.

  • To Juliana Ritchie, January 19, 1777 . . . . 170

    Franklin’s precaution against spies.

  • Instructions to Captain Nicholson, January 26, 1777 172

    Directions to purchase a vessel for the United States.

  • Supposed to be to M. Montaudoin, January 26, 1777 . . . . . . . . . . 172
  • To General Washington . . . . . . 186
  • From Georgiana Shipley, February 11, 1777 . . . 187
  • To Richard Peters, March 6, 1777 . . . . . 196

    Introducing Captain Garanger.

  • To Mr. Rybot, April 9, 1777 . . . . . . 207
  • To Richard Bache, Esq., April 14, 1777 . . . 208
  • To the Bishop of Tricomie, April 22, 1777 . . . 208
  • To his Excellency the Viscount de Ponte de Lima, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Portugal, April 26, 1777 . . . . . . 210
  • To his Excellency the Ambassador from Portugal, April 26, 1777 . . . . . . . . 211

    A remonstrance.

  • To General Washington, September 4, 1777 . . . 224

    Introducing Baron Steuben.

  • To Captain Thompson and C. Hinman, November 25, 1777 . . . . . . . . . 231

    Instructions for cruising.

  • To Mr. Thornton . . . . . . . . 233

    Instructions for the relief of American prisoners in England.

  • To Sir Grey Cooper, December 11, 1777 . . . . 235

    American prisoners in England.

  • To James Hutton, February 1, 1778 . . . . 245

    On the means of reconciling Great Britain and America.

  • To M. Gérard, February 24, 1778 . . . . . 255

    Contradicting reports of treaties between English Commissioners and Congress.

  • To M. Gérard, February 25, 1778 . . . . . 256 Edition: current; Page: [388]
  • A True History of the Difference between the Colonies and the Author of the Stamp Act, March 12, 1778 . . . . . . . . . . 262
  • To Mr. President Laurens, March 31, 1778 . . . 273

    Introducing M. Gérard.

  • To Monsieur Gérard, April 1, 1778 . . . . 275

    England’s propositions come too late.

  • To the Grand Pensionary of Holland, April 10, 1778 . . . . . . . . . . 286
  • To M. Dumas, April 10, 1778 . . . . . 287
  • To Mr. John Ross, April 26, 1778 . . . . . 297

    Thomas Morris—Arthur Lee and the accounts—Lee “artful and disputatious.”

  • To David Hartley, May 25, 1778 . . . . . 302

    Exchange of prisoners.

  • To David Hartley, June 16, 1778 . . . . . 306
  • Proposed Letter to Lord North concerning Prisoners, June, 1778 . . . . . . . . . 309
  • To Mr. Grand, July 3, 1778 . . . . . . 320

    British seizures of French ships.

  • To David Hartley, July 13, 1778 . . . . . 321
  • To David Hartley, September 3, 1778 . . . . 329
  • To David Hartley, September 14, 1778 . . . . 332
  • Franklin’s Notes on the Condition of his Health, October 4, 1778 . . . . . . . . 333
  • To David Hartley, October 20, 1778 . . . . 340
  • To Mr. Grand, November 3, 1778 . . . . . 345

    Spanish complaints of Captain Conyngham.

  • To David Hartley, November 29, 1778 . . . . 346
  • To Dr. Priestley (probably) . . . . . . 347

    Assaults upon his character—Volta’s experiment—Governor William Franklin’s arrest as a royalist—Confidence in the republic.

  • Franklin’s Personal Expense Accounts with Congress during his First Two Years’ Official Residence in Paris, 1776-78 . . . . . . . . 350
  • To David Hartley, January 25, 1779 . . . . 424
  • To Messrs. Lloyd and Others, January 26, 1779 . . 428

    The Barbary powers.

    Edition: current; Page: [389]
  • To Jonathan Williams, Jr., February 13, 1779 . . 433

    Franklin announces his appointment as Minister—Governor Greene.

  • To Arthur Lee, February 18, 1779 . . . . 435
  • To M. Dumas, February 19, 1779 . . . . 436

    A loan in Holland—Lafayette.

  • From Arthur Lee, February 21, 1779 . . . . 437
  • To David Hartley, February 22, 1779 . . . . 438
  • To Count de Vergennes, February 25, 1779 . . . 440

    Some suggestions for the future prosecution of the war.

  • To Count de Vergennes, February 25, 1779 . . . 444
  • To Count de Vergennes, March 9, 1779 . . . . 447
  • To Messrs. Hill, Parkes, Adams, Degge, Buckley, Elwood, and Warren, officers of the Alliance, March 11, 1779 . . . . . . . . . 450

    Application for advances considered—Frugality urged upon them.

  • To Arthur Lee, March 13, 1779 . . . . . 452

    Mr. Williams’s accounts.

  • To Honorable Arthur Lee, Esq., March 13, 1779 . . 454

    The records and archives of the Commissioners.

  • 1779-1781
  • To Richard Oliver, Esq., March 14, 1779 . . . 3

    A passport.

  • To Jonathan Williams, March 16, 1779 . . . . 4

    Examination of Williams’s accounts.

  • To M. Joshua Johnson, March 17, 1779 . . . . 6

    About an exemption from duties.

  • To Montaudoin, March 17, 1779 . . . . . 8
  • To M. Dumas, March 18, 1779 . . . . . 8

    Loan in Holland—Return of Mr. Adams—Arthur Lee.

  • To Jonathan Williams, March 19, 1779 . . . . 10

    His accounts and Arthur Lee.

  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, March, 22, 1779 . . 14

    On the method of harassing England by sea.

  • To Arthur Lee, March 27, 1779 . . . . . 16

    Mr. Williams’s accounts.

    Edition: current; Page: [390]
  • To Arthur Lee, March 27, 1779 . . . . . 18

    More difficulties and discontent.

  • To —— Sayre, March 31, 1779 . . . . . 19

    Disposition of the Swedish court—Unanimity of the colonists for independence—Depreciation of the currency.

  • To William Lee, April 2, 1779 . . . . . 21

    Supplies of arms.

  • To John Adams, April 3, 1779 . . . . . 22
  • To Joshua Johnson, April 8, 1779 . . . . . 23
  • To Jonathan Williams, April 8, 1779 . . . . 24
  • To John Adams, April 21, 1779 . . . . . 26

    About relief of the prisoners in England.

  • To John Quincy Adams, April 21, 1779 . . . . 27
  • To John Adams, Esq., April 24, 1779 . . . . 40
  • Memorial of Arthur Lee, May 1, 1779 . . . . 46
  • To ——— Lloyd, May 4, 1779 . . . . . 65

    Good news from Holland.

  • To the Marine Committee of Congress, June 2, 1779 91
  • To Charles Carroll of Carrollton, June 2, 1779 . . . 97

    Chevalier de la Luzerne—Sending artisans to America.

  • To Francis Hopkinson, June 4, 1779 . . . . 102
  • To Honorable the Council of the Massachusetts Bay, June 4, 1779 . . . . . . . . 104

    Lafayette—Chevalier de Ramondis—Chevalier de la Luzerne.

  • To John Jay, June 9, 1779 . . . . . . 106

    The lack of hard money for taking Canada.

  • To Mr. Bache (his son-in-law), June 9, 1779 . . . 107
  • To Messrs. J. Rocquette, I. Elsvier, and Brothers Rocquette, June 13, 1779 . . . . . . 109

    As to the value of United States notes.

  • To M. Ar. Gillon, July 5, 1779 . . . . . 110
  • To Jonathan Williams, July 8, 1779 . . . . 111
  • To Jonathan Williams . . . . . . . 113
  • To M. Dubourg, August 13, 1779 . . . . . 114
  • To Mr. Digges, August 20, 1779 . . . . . 116

    Captain Conyngham.

  • To Mr. Charles Epp, August 27, 1779 . . . . 117

    Reasons for not going to America.

  • To Mr. Schweighauser, September 17, 1779 . . . 119 Edition: current; Page: [391]
  • To Mr. Nesbit, September 29, 1779 . . . . 123

    Captain Conyngham’s imprisonment.

  • To Arthur Lee, Esq., September 30, 1779 . . . 125
  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, October 1, 1779 . . 126

    On copper coinage in the United States.

  • To Honorable Captain Landais, October 15, 1779 . . 142
  • To Honorable the Commissioners of the Navy for the Eastern Department, Boston, Oct. 17, 1779 . . 143

    The American squadron’s achievements under Paul Jones—Prizes taken.

  • To ——— Austin, October 20, 1779 . . . . 149
  • To the Commercial Committee of Congress, Philadelphia, October 21, 1779 . . . . . . 150

    Caution not to draw on the ministers without authority.

  • To Mr. Holker, October 28, 1779 . . . . . 155
  • To Messrs. Fizeaux and Grand, October 29, 1779 . . 155
  • To Captain Conyngham, November 22, 1779 . . . 159
  • From Captain Conyngham, December 22, 1779 . . 164
  • To Joshua Johnson, December 29, 1779 . . . 166
  • To William Strahan, January 24, 1780 . . . . 168
  • To M. de Sartine, February 13, 1780 . . . . 177

    American prisoners in England—Urging an exchange for English prisoners brought into France.

  • To Col. Fleury, February 26, 1780 . . . . 181

    Touching the extension of the furlough.

  • To Louis XVI., March, 1780 . . . . . . 183

    Asks for a vessel to transport clothing for 1,500 soldiers to America.

  • To M. de Sartine, March 20, 1780 . . . . . 215

    Declines to ask Congress to erase Capt. Landais from the list of naval officers—Refers him to a court-martial in America.

  • To the Count de Vergennes, May 16, 1780 . . . 224

    Relating to an exchange of prisoners.

  • To the Officers of the Admiralty of Vannes, May 18, 1780 . . . . . . . . . 227
  • To MM. de Neufville & Son, June 6, 1780 . . . 240
  • To Captain Landais, June 7, 1780 . . . . . 245
  • To Lieutenant James Degge, of the Ship Alliance, and Others, June 7, 1780 . . . . . . 246

    Prize-money disputes—Captain Landais’s caprices.

    Edition: current; Page: [392]
  • To Mr. Wharton, June 17, 1780 . . . . . 253
  • To Commodore Jones, June 17, 1780 . . . . 259

    Withdraws order to receive Arthur Lee on board his ship as passenger.

  • To M. Van der Ouder Meulen, June 22, 1780 . . . 262

    Proposal for a shipping company for the American trade.

  • To M. de Rayneval, June 24, 1780 . . . . . 263

    In reference to a proposal to land 4,000 troops in the west of England.

  • To Mr. Digges, June 25, 1780 . . . . . 265

    Declines to receive a medal from Congress if procured by solicitation—Declines to sit for his portrait—Provisions for American prisoners in England—Mr. Hartley’s efforts for peace.

  • To Jonathan Williams, June 27, 1780 . . . . 267

    Plagued almost to death with the passions, vagaries, illhumors, and madnesses of other people.

  • To Commodore Jones, July 5, 1780 . . . . 271

    How to become a great captain.

  • To Count de Vergennes, August 3, 1780 . . . 277

    The indiscretion of Mr. Adams.

  • To Mr. Schweighauser, August 10, 1780 . . . 288

    Debts improperly contracted by Landais.

  • To Mr. and Mrs. West, August 16, 1780 . . . 293
  • To Count de Vergennes, September 7, 1780 . . . 293

    Proposes that the consular convention with France be negotiated in the United States.

  • Mémoire de M. Franklin, September 26, 1780 . . 295

    Enclosing financial statement.

  • To John Adams, October 2, 1780 . . . . . 302

    Prospects at home.

  • To John Adams, October 8, 1780 . . . . . 304

    Anxiety about Mr. Laurens—Straitened for money—Suggests that Mr. Adams write the Count de Vergennes a letter to efface unpleasant impressions.

  • To Count de Vergennes, November 22, 1780 . . . 330

    De Chaumont’s claims—Wishes no more drafts drawn by Congress without funds sent to meet them.

  • Extract from the Instructions to B. Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary, November 28, 1780 . . . 331
  • To Mr. Searle, November 30, 1780 . . . . 335

    Arnold’s treason.

    Edition: current; Page: [393]
  • To Rev. Dr. Cooper, December 2, 1780 . . . 338

    Governor Hancock—The insanity of Landais and Lee.

  • To Mr. Jonathan Williams, December 27, 1780 . . 344

    De Chaumont’s embarrassments—A caution.

  • Fragment of a Diary . . . . . . . 345
  • From Samuel Huntington, President of Congress, January 1, 1781 . . . . . . . 356

    Instructions to procure a further loan.

  • To Miss Georgiana Shipley . . . . . . 367

    Coldness of nights on the desert—Pleasant reminiscences of Twyford—Her picture of its inhabitants—Part of Journal, 1780-1781.

  • From Francis Dana, April 6, 1781 . . . . 395
  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, May 14, 1781 . . 411

    Expedition against Arnold—British policy—Colonel Laurens.

  • To William Jackson, July 10, 1781 . . . . 445

    His impudence rebuked.

  • VOLUME IX 1781-1782
  • To Charles W. F. Dumas, August 10, 1781 . . . 18
  • To John Adams, November 26, 1781 . . . . 49

    Capitulation of Cornwallis—General Greene.

  • To William Strahan, December 4, 1781 . . . 60

    Tully on Old Age—Printing in Paris.

  • To Messrs. Henry Royle and others, January 4, 1782 83

    Advice about emigrating to the United States.

  • To Robert Morris, January 9, 1782 . . . . 100

    Another warning against after-clap demands.

  • To William Carmichael, January 23, 1782 . . . 114

    Money difficulties—John Jay—Spanish ink—Lafayette.

  • To Robert Morris, January 28, 1782 . . . . 125

    Lafayette’s pressure for a new loan.

  • To John Adams, February 12, 1782 . . . . 130
  • To Mr. Barclay, February 12, 1782 . . . . 131

    New drafts and new embarrassments.

  • To Robert Morris, March 4, 1782 . . . . 143

    A new loan of six millions—Gillon—Captain Barry.

    Edition: current; Page: [394]
  • To Robert Morris, March 9, 1782 . . . . 155

    Great affairs and great men sometimes influenced by small matters—The sense of the English nation against continuing the war—The king’s obstinacy.

  • To M. de Rayneval, March 22, 1782 . . . . 161
  • To Jonathan Williams, March 23, 1782 . . . 161
  • To Robert Morris, March 30, 1782 . . . . 166

    Supplies for the army—Change of sentiment in England—Silas Deane’s letters and accounts.

  • To William Hodgson, March 31, 1782 . . . 174
  • To M. l’Abbé de St. Favre, March 31, 1782 . . 175

    An impostor that was worse than a simple thief.

  • To Madam Greene, April 7, 1782 . . . . 183
  • To David Hartley, April 14, 1782 . . . . 196
  • To M. Dumas, May 3, 1782 . . . . . 208

    English barbarities.

  • To Miss Alexander, June, 1782 . . . . . 226
  • To Count de Vergennes, July 18, 1782 . . . 388
  • Certificate of Conyngham’s Commission, August 7, 1782 . . . . . . . . . 395
  • To Count de Vergennes, August 24, 1782 . . . 416
  • To Count de Vergennes, September 8, 1782 . . 428
  • 1782-1784
  • To Count de Vergennes, November 15, 1782 . . 23
  • To M. Dumas, February 17, 1783 . . . . 82
  • To Count de Vergennes, March 9, 1783 . . . 90
  • To Count de Vergennes, March 16, 1783 . . . 91
  • To John Dickinson, President of the State of Pennsylvania, March 23, 1783 . . . . . 98

    Introducing Mr. Penn—Legislation in regard to the Penn Estate.

  • To Count de Vergennes, May 4, 1783 . . . . 111
  • To Count de Vergennes, May 5, 1783 . . . . 112
  • To Dr. Ingenhousz, May 16, 1783 . . . . 115

    Consent to the dedication of a book to him—Tired of the correspondence of Mr. V—.—Mr. Wharton—Advice to Vienna merchants.

    Edition: current; Page: [395]
  • To Count de Vergennes, May 23, 1783 . . . 119
  • To Count de Vergennes, June 3, 1783 . . . 121
  • To Count de Vergennes, July 14, 1783 . . . 129

    Communicates the resolution of Congress of May 2d.

  • To Count de Vergennes, July 24, 1783 . . . 146
  • From Benjamin Vaughan, August 8, 1783 . . . 150

    Introducing Dugald Stewart.

  • Wm. Temple Franklin to M. de Rayneval, August 15, 1783 . . . . . . . . . 151
  • To Count de Vergennes, August 16, 1783 . . . 152
  • To Count de Vergennes, August 24, 1783 . . . 152
  • Wm. Temple Franklin to M. de Rayneval, August 25, 1783 . . . . . . . . . 154
  • To Sir Joseph Banks, August 30, 1783 . . . 155
  • To Elias Boudinot, President of Congress, September 10, 1783 . . . . . . . . . 171
  • To Dr. Price (probably), September 16, 1783 . . 188

    Balloons—A jocular paper in ridicule of a prize question given out by the Belgium Academy of Science.

  • To Sir Joseph Banks, October 8, 1783 . . . 194
  • To Sir Joseph Banks, November 21, 1783 . . . 203
  • To Sir Joseph Banks, December 1, 1783 . . . 210
  • To Mr. Laurens, December 6, 1783 . . . . 214

    A question of handwriting—Balloons.

  • To Count de Vergennes, December 6, 1783 . . . 216
  • To Count de Vergennes, December 15, 1783 . . . 218
  • To the Rev. Dr. Cooper, December 26, 1783 . . . 236
  • To Mrs. Hewson, December 26, 1783 . . . . 239

    His grandson—French grammars.

  • Baynes’s Journal of Conversations with Franklin . . 240
  • To Count de Vergennes, January 13, 1784 . . . 269

    “A certain Schaffer.”

  • To ———, January 25, 1784 . . . . . 271

    In reference to farming in the United States.

  • To Count de Vergennes, February 26, 1784 . . . 287
  • To Count de Vergennes, March 5, 1784 . . . 290
  • To Henry Laurens, March 12, 1784 . . . . 292

    Continental drafts—Kicking the hedgehog.

  • To Paul Jones, March 23, 1784 . . . . . 298 Edition: current; Page: [396]
  • Impolicy of War . . . . . . . 299
  • To Henry Laurens, April 29, 1784 . . . . 309
  • To Count de Vergennes, May 31, 1784 . . . . 331
  • To M. St. Jean de Crèvecœur . . . . . 363

    Project of a line of packets between France and America—The division of the ships into water-tight compartments—Chart of the Gulf Stream.

  • From John Adams, July 19, 1784 . . . . . 370

    Impatient at the neglect of him by Congress—Proposes to banish politics from his thoughts and begin a course of experiments in physics.

  • 1784-1788
  • To John Jay, February 8, 1785 . . . . . 6

    Effect in Europe of the misrepresentations of the British press.

  • To Mr. Francis Childs, Printer at New York, February 8, 1785 . . . . . . . . 8
  • To William Strahan, March 5, 1785 . . . . 10

    Unsettled accounts with Hall—Value of a copyright in an established newspaper.

  • To Benjamin Vaughan, March 14, 1785 . . . . 11
  • To Jonathan Williams, April 13, 1785 . . . . 23

    Imprisonment of Jonas Hartwell—Refining backwards from white sugar to brown.

  • To John Ingenhousz, April 20, 1785 . . . . 24

    Invitation to accompany Franklin to America—Idle stories about that country—The emperor of Germany.

  • To M. Cadet de Vaux, April 28, 1785 . . . . 30

    Beer made from Indian corn.

  • To John Ingenhousz, April 29, 1785 . . . . 30

    Mr. Penn’s mercenary descendants.

  • To Mr. and Mrs. Bache, May 10, 1785 . . . . 38

    Preparations for his return.

  • To Edward Bridgen, July 4, 1785 . . . . . 72
  • To Mr. Limozin, July 25, 1785 . . . . . 83
  • To Mr. Ruellan, July 25, 1785 . . . . . 84

    Preparations for voyage.

    Edition: current; Page: [397]
  • To Mr. Holker, July 25, 1785 . . . . . 85
  • To Thomas Paine, September 27, 1785 . . . . 201

    Reasons for entering the public service—His health.

  • To Francis Childs, October 1, 1785 . . . . 204
  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, January 24, 1786 . . . . 221

    His health—Chesterfield’s advice to his son’s widow—Pocket complaints.

  • To Jonathan Williams, January 27, 1786 . . . 223
  • To Jonathan Williams, February 16, 1786 . . . 230

    Asking for his account of the temperature of the water during their last voyage—Though old not insensible to reputation.

  • Printing Types Made at Passy, February 25, 1786 . . 236
  • To Mr. Grand, March 5, 1786 . . . . . 236

    The emperor and the Dutch—Cagliostro—English press—English fictions—English wishes not American realities.

  • To Mr. Grand, March 20, 1786 . . . . . 241

    Hams and soap to distribute—Lalande’s History of All the Navigable Canals.

  • To Thomas Jefferson, March 20, 1786 . . . . 243
  • To General Roberdeau, March 23, 1786 . . . . 245

    Declines to purchase a plantation.

  • To M. l’Abbé de la Roche, April, 1786 . . . . 245

    The Archbishop of Bordeaux and his wooden houses—The cardinal bird and Madame Helvetius—Her eighteen cats—The particle on—Fickleness of popular favor.

  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, April 8, 1786 . . . . 250

    Her soap—Sally’s experiment.

  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, April 25, 1786 . . . . 251

    More about soap.

  • To M. Le Roy, June 27, 1786 . . . . . 260
  • To John Jay, July 6, 1786 . . . . . . 263

    Inviting his attention to Scotosh, chief of the Wyondots—Speeches of Scotosh and President Washington’s replies.

  • To Noah Webster, July 9, 1786 . . . . . 267
  • To Mr. Carey, August 10, 1786 . . . . . 272

    Discourages the publication of notes of his early life.

  • To John Jay, August 24, 1786 . . . . . 276

    Asks for a copy of the treaty with Portugal—The monument to Montgomery—Wishes Mr. Jay to send him the copy of his will in Mr. Jay’s custody.

    Edition: current; Page: [398]
  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, September 21, 1786 . . . 283

    Enlarging his house—Advises her to teach his grandson to make her soap.

  • To M. de Chaumont, October 7, 1786 . . . . 284

    Approves of his son’s fiancée.

  • To Mr. Thomas Wright, Jr., November 25, 1786 . . 291
  • To ———, November 25, 1786 . . . . . 291

    Advice not to publish.

  • To the Captain of a Spanish Man-of-War, December 16, 1786 . . . . . . . . . 292

    Sends aid to a ship at sea.

  • To Nathaniel Falconer, December 16, 1786 . . . 293

    Instructions to go to the relief of a Spanish man-of-war at sea.

  • To M. Le Veillard, April 15, 1787 . . . . . 306

    The memoirs—Independence not complete till debts are paid and frontier posts delivered up—“Thoughts Concerning Executive Justice”—Paper money—House-building—Thomas Paine.

  • To the Count d’Estaing, April 15, 1787 . . . . 315

    Grant of land to Franklin by the State of Georgia—Duplicates—Thomas Paine.

  • To Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1787 . . . . 322

    The insurrection in Massachusetts—Hancock—Bowdoin—Proposed constitutional convention.

  • To M. Grand, April 22, 1787 . . . . . 324

    Illness and death of Vergennes—President of Pennsylvania votes against himself—An old man’s amusement.

  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, May 30, 1787 . . . . 336

    The alterations of his dwelling—His library.

  • From Madame Helvetius, July, 1787 . . . . 351
  • To Arthur St. Clair and Other Delegates in Congress, September 20, 1787 . . . . . . 355

    The Shay rebellion—Order of arrest—Letter to Governor Clinton.

  • To Gaetano Filangieri, October 14, 1787 . . . . 388
  • To M. Grand, October 22, 1787 . . . . . 389

    Sending a copy of the new Constitution—Charles Pinckney.

  • To M. de Chaumont, October 22, 1787 . . . . 390
  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, December 11, 1787 . . . 393

    Declines to endorse for her son—Sends her money.

    Edition: current; Page: [399]
  • To the Governor of Georgia, December 16, 1787 . 396

    A Creek Indian war—Indian wars usually provoked by the whites—The New England system of township recommended.

  • To St. John de Crèvecœur, February 16, 1788 . . 405
  • To Mrs. Colas, April 12, 1788 . . . . . 417
  • To Madame Brillon, April 19, 1788 . . . . 417

    Personal and domestic details.

  • To M. Le Veillard, April 22, 1788 . . . . 419

    The autobiography—Two chambers of Congress not necessary reasons for a customs tariff forevermore.

  • To Madame Helvetius, April 23, 1788 . . . 421

    Personal details—Cardinal birds.

  • To Messrs. Benjamin Chambers and Other Gentlemen of Chambersburgh, September 20, 1788 . . . 441

    The blowing a furnace by falling water not new—Swedenborg.

  • 1788-1790
  • To M. Le Roy, October 25, 1788 . . . . 9

    The new boat propelled by steam.

  • To Don Diego Gardoqui, Minister from the Court of Spain, October 26, 1788 . . . . . . 10

    Asks protection for a commercial expedition to New Orleans.

  • To Mr. Elam, November 10, 1788 . . . . 11

    Declines jurisdiction of a sectarian squabble.

  • To Mr. Francis Childs, November 19, 1788 . . . 15

    Asks payment of a debt.

  • To Mrs. Partridge, November 25, 1788 . . . 15

    His health—Children and grandchildren—Loss of his letter-books.

  • To Benj. Vaughan, December 9, 1788 . . . 31
  • Analysis of the American Loyalists . . . . 60
  • Catalogue List of British Cruelties . . . . 61
  • From Mr. B. Vaughan, March 4, 1789 . . . 69

    The autobiography—Last days of “the good bishop”—War and heresy—The king of Sweden—Rumsey—The king of England—Pitt and Fox and Sheridan.

  • Contemplated Restraint upon Emigration . . . 107 Edition: current; Page: [400]
  • Inscription for the Philadelphia Library, August 29, 1789 . . . . . . . . . 125
  • On a Late Auspicious Marriage . . . . . 126
  • To M. Le Veillard, September 5, 1789 . . . 127

    His health—Unable to continue the memoirs.

  • To the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, September 21, 1789 . . . . . . . . . 138

    Recommending the selection of M. Le Roy de Chaumont for Minister Plenipotentiary from France to the United States.

  • To Mrs. Jane Mecom, October 19, 1789 . . . 140
  • To Mr. Urban, October 20, 1789 . . . . 140

    Corrects an error in his magazine about Americans.

  • To M. de Chaumont, October 31, 1789 . . . 142

    Declines to lend him money—Loss sustained from the sale of bills in France—Advice to remain in the United States a few months longer to look after his claims before Congress.

  • To James Logan, November 2, 1789 . . . . 144

    Urges the filling of vacant trusteeships.

  • To M. de Chaumont, November 14, 1789 . . . 161

    His claims upon Congress.

  • To ———, December 17, 1789 . . . . . 165

    The man that saved his life.

Edition: current; Page: [401]

Alluding probably to Fitch’s steamboat.


Bigelow’s Life of Franklin, Appendix No. 3.


Bigelow’s Life of Franklin, Vol. III., Appendix No. 4.


Je me trompe, en relisant votre lettre je vois que vous l’avez reçu.


Dr. Franklin’s niece.


See letter to Mr. Barclay, dated June 19, 1785.


The requests contained in this letter were never complied with. Some months afterwards, Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, wrote to him as follows:

Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles
March 7, 1789.
New York
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
“Dear Sir:—

I am sorry to inform you, that the apprehensions suggested in my last are realized. The delegates, whom the States appointed to conduct the business of the Union in Congress till the meeting of the new government, have not assembled in sufficient number to form a House. Consequently there was no opportunity of laying your letter before them, and getting it inserted on their minutes. I now wish to be informed what is to be done with it; whether you would desire it to remain among the other papers of the late Congress, or have it returned to you. I shall wait your orders. In the meanwhile accept a fresh assurance of the sincere esteem and regard with which I am, etc.”

There is no evidence that any farther efforts were made by Dr. Franklin to obtain justice from Congress. On the 1st of April, 1789, a sufficient number of members had assembled to organize the Congress under the new Constitution; but there is no record in the Journals which shows that the above letter to the President of the old Congress was ever laid before that body, or that the subject was in any manner brought into consideration. Dr. Franklin’s accounts, therefore, remained unsettled till his death, notwithstanding his repeated solicitations to have them examined, adjusted, and closed. No allowance was ever granted for the “equitable demands for extra services,” to which he thought himself entitled, nor were the grounds of them even made a subject of inquiry; nor was any vote of thanks or approbation ever passed for his long, steady, and most successful labors in the cause of his country. For this he was probably indebted to the Lees of Virginia—Arthur chiefly—and to the proprietary party in Pennsylvania, whose animosity is not yet entirely extinct.—Editor.


Madame Helvetius.


The Bishop of St. Asaph died in London on the 9th of December, 1788.


These “Reflections” are here presented in a translation from the French, as published in Castéra’s edition of the author’s writings. Castéra says that a copy was found among Franklin’s papers, and inserted in the Journal d’Economie Publique (du 10 Ventôse an V.); but not being able to procure that journal, he translated it from the German version contained in the Minerva, edited by Archenholz. After passing through two languages, the style and other characteristics of the original must of course be essentially changed, and probably not for the better.


Book i., chap. 3. This was written in the year 1773. The money price of wages has, since that time, risen very much in the United States. At present (1835) in Boston, the rate of wages in the same trades is about as follows, viz.: common labor, per diem, sixty-eight and ¾ cents, equal to five shillings and sixpence of the New York currency in shillings and pence; ship-carpenters, $2, equal to sixteen shillings New York; housewrights, $1.75, equal to fourteen shillings New York; bricklayers, $2.25, equal to twenty shillings New York; tailors, $1.50, equal to twelve shillings New York. This is the rate of wages for journeymen in each of the above trades. The rate in the principal towns in the northern and middle States generally does not vary materially from that in Boston. The laborer is supposed to support himself at the above rate of wages; and fortunately the pint of rum is not now so generally a part of his requisite supplies, as it was at the time when Adam Smith wrote his work.—W. Phillips.


About thirty-three inches.


The suggestion in this essay, that the capacity of a nation for cheap production is not dependent solely upon the lowness of wages, is very just, indeed quite obvious, and yet it is not usually so satisfactorily presented in works on political economy, as it is above. Those works are apt to lead the reader into a misapprehension on this subject, by assigning to the money rate of wages too predominant an influence on the money price of products. That it is not decisive in this respect is demonstrated in the example put in the text, namely, that of England, where wages are higher than in any other European country; and yet England maintains a successful competition in the foreign markets with other nations, and not only with those where labor is cheaper, but also with those where interest is lower, for instance, Holland. These are disadvantages under which England, and still more the United States, labor in competition with the Dutch in her foreign markets, and also the home markets, provided all goods, both foreign and domestic, are admitted into the home market upon the same footing without discrimination.

How are these disadvantages to be compensated? It may be by some or all of the following advantages, viz.: 1. By low rents and cheap materials. 2. By plenty and cheapness of fuel. 3. By facility of inland transportation. 4. By a good geographical position for marine transportation. 5. By a good mercantile marine. 6 By commercial advantages secured by treaties and conventions with foreign nations. 7. By superior intelligence and skill of operatives. 8. By improvements in machinery and more perfect implements. 9. By more intense industry, rendering a day’s labor more effective, independently of any superiority of skill or implements. 10. By superior sagacity, activity, and enterprise on the part of the undertakers and conductors of the national industry. 11. By the greater enterprise, skill, and activity of the merchants. In comparing the condition of different nations as competitors in commerce, these causes ought all to be kept in view, no less than the money rate of wages and the rate of interest; and so presented, that a just weight may be assigned to each.

In regard to the influence of the growth of the United States upon the rate of wages in Europe, Franklin’s argument supposes that the increase of employment for European laborers will be greater in proportion to the increase of the laborers themselves, than if the country were stationary. The proposition is probably true, but not so obviously so, that it can be taken for granted. The essay would have been clearer and more satisfactory, had this question been treated.—W. Phillips.


Marked “Ideas for the prints.”


Relating to the claims of the so-called American Loyalists. See Supra, p. 58.


This performance was published in 1774, and entitled: A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.


Mr. Carroll was at this time a Senator in Congress from Maryland. The first Congress under the new Constitution had recently convened in New York. In March, 1776, Dr. Franklin and Mr. Carroll had been joint commissioners, appointed by the Continental Congress with instructions to form a union between the Canadas and the United Colonies.


That the rector be a man of good understanding, good morals, diligent and patient, learned in the languages and sciences, and a correct, pure speaker and writer of the English tongue; to have such tutors under him as shall be necessary.

The English language might be taught by grammar; in which some of our best writers, as Tillotson, Addison, Pope, Algernon Sidney, Cato’s Letters, etc., should be classics; the styles principally to be cultivated being the clear and the concise. Reading should also be taught, and pronouncing properly, distinctly, and emphatically; not with an even tone, which under-does, nor a theatrical, which over-does nature.

Mr. Locke, speaking of grammar (p. 252) says that “To those, the greatest part of whose business in this world is to be done with their tongue, and with their pens, it is convenient, if not necessary, that they should speak properly and correctly, whereby they may let their thoughts into other men’s minds the more easily, and with the greater impression. Upon this account it is that any sort of speaking, so as will make him be understood, is not thought enough for a gentleman. He ought to study grammar, among the other helps of speaking well; but it must be the grammar of his own tongue, of the language he uses, that he may understand his own country speech nicely, and speak it properly, without shocking the ears of those it is addressed to with solecisms and offensive irregularities. And to this purpose grammar is necessary; but it is the grammar only of their own proper tongues, and to those who would take pains in cultivating their language and perfecting their styles. Whether all gentlemen should not do this, I leave to be considered, since the want of propriety and grammatical exactness is thought very misbecoming one of that rank, and usually draws on one guilty of such faults the imputation of having had a lower breeding and worse company than suit with his quality. If this be so (as I suppose it is), it will be matter of wonder why young gentlemen are forced to learn the grammars of foreign and dead languages, and are never once told of the grammar of their own tongues. They do not so much as know there is any such thing, much less is it made their business to be instructed in it. Nor is their own language ever proposed to them as worthy their care and cultivating, though they have daily use of it, and are not seldom in the future course of their lives judged of by their handsome or awkward way of expressing themselves in it. Whereas the languages, whose grammars they have been so much employed in, are such as probably they shall scarce ever speak or write; or, if upon occasion this should happen, they should be excused for the mistakes and faults they make in it. Would not a Chinese, who took notice of this way of breeding, be apt to imagine that all our young gentlemen were designed to be teachers and professors of the dead languages of foreign countries, and not to be men of business in their own?”

The same author adds (p. 255): “That if grammar ought to be taught at any time, it must be to one that can speak the language already; how else can he be taught the grammar of it? This at least is evident from the practice of the wise and learned nations among the ancients. They made it a part of education to cultivate their own, not foreign tongues. The Greeks counted all other nations barbarous, and had a contempt for their languages. And though the Greek learning grew in credit among the Romans towards the end of their commonwealth, yet it was the Roman tongue that was made the study of their youth. Their own language they were to make use of, and therefore it was their own language they were instructed and exercised in.” And (p. 281): “There can scarce be a greater defect,” says he, “in a gentleman than not to express himself well either in writing or speaking. But yet I think I may ask the reader whether he doth not know a great many who live upon their estates, and so, with the name, should have the qualities of gentlemen, who cannot so much as tell a story as they should, much less speak clearly and persuasively in any business. This I think not to be so much their fault as the fault of their education.” Thus far Locke.

Monsieur Rollin reckons the neglect of teaching their own tongue a great fault in the French universities. He spends great part of his first volume of Belles-Lettres on that subject, and lays down some excellent rules or methods of teaching French to Frenchmen grammatically, and making them masters therein, which are very applicable to our language, but too long to be inserted here. He practised them on the youth under his care with great success.

Mr. Hutchinson (Dial, p. 297) says: “To perfect them in the knowledge of their mother tongue, they should learn it in the grammatical way, that they not only speak it purely, but be able both to correct their own idiom and afterwards enrich the language on the same foundation.”

Dr. Turnbull, in his Observations on a Liberal Education, says (p. 262): “The Greeks, perhaps, made more early advances in the most useful sciences than any youth have done since, chiefly on this account, that they studied no other language but their own. This, no doubt, saved them very much time; but they applied themselves carefully to the study of their own language, and were early able to speak and write it in the greatest perfection. The Roman youth, though they learned the Greek, did not neglect their own tongue, but studied it more carefully than we now do the Greek and Latin, without giving ourselves any trouble about our own tongue.”

Monsieur Simon, in an elegant discourse of his among the Memoirs of the Academy of Belles-Lettres, at Paris, speaking of the stress the Romans laid on purity of language and graceful pronunciation, adds: “May I here make a reflection on the education we commonly give our children? It is very remote from the precepts I have mentioned. Hath the child arrived to six or seven years of age, he mixes with a herd of ill-bred boys at school, where, under the pretext of teaching him Latin, no regard is had to his mother tongue. And what happens? What we see every day. A young gentleman of eighteen, who has had this education, cannot read. For to articulate the words, and join them together, I do not call reading, unless one can pronounce well, observe all the proper stops, vary the voice, express the sentiment, and read with a delicate intelligence. Nor can he speak a jot better. A proof of this is, that he cannot write ten lines without committing gross faults; and, because he did not learn his own language well in his early years, he will never know it well. I except a few, who, being afterwards engaged by their profession, or their natural taste, cultivate their minds by study. And yet even they, if they attempt to write, will find by the labor composition costs them, what a loss it is not to have learned their language in the proper season. Education among the Romans was upon a quite different footing. Masters of rhetoric taught them early the principles, the difficulties, the beauties, the subtleties, the depths, the riches of their own language. When they went from those schools they were perfect masters of it; they were never at a loss for proper expressions; and I am much deceived if it was not owing to this that they produced such excellent works with so marvellous facility.

Pliny, in his letter to a lady on choosing a tutor for her son, speaks of it as the most material thing in his education, that he should have a good Latin master of rhetoric, and recommends Julius Genitor for his eloquent, open, and plain faculty of speaking. He does not advise her to a Greek master of Greek rhetoric, though the Greeks were famous for that science; but to a Latin master, because Latin was the boy’s mother tongue. In the above quotation from Monsieur Simon we see what was the office and duty of the master of rhetoric.

To form their style they should be put on writing letters to each other; making abstracts of what they read; or writing the same things in their own words; telling or writing stories lately read, in their own expressions. All to be revised and corrected by the tutor, who should give his reasons, explain the force and import of words, etc.

This Mr. Locke recommends (Educ., p. 284) and says: “The writing of letters has so much to do in all the occurrences of human life that no gentleman can avoid showing himself in this kind of writing. Occasions will daily force him to make this use of his pen, which, besides the consequence that, in his affairs, the well or ill managing of it often draws after it, always lays him open to a severer examination of his breeding, sense, and abilities, than oral discourses, whose transient faults, dying for the most part with the sound that gives them life, and so not subject to a strict review, more easily escape observation and censure.”

He adds: “Had the methods of education been directed to their right end, one would have thought this so necessary a part could not have been neglected, whilst themes and verses in Latin, of no use at all, were so constantly everywhere pressed, to the racking of children’s invention beyond their strength, and hindering their cheerful progress by unnatural difficulties. But custom has so ordained it, and who dares disobey? And would it not be very unreasonable to require of a learned country-school-master (who has all the tropes and figures in Farnaby’s Rhetoric at his fingers’ ends) to teach his scholar to express himself handsomely in English, when it appears to be so little his business or thought, that the boy’s mother (despised, ’t is like, as illiterate for not having read a system of logic or rhetoric) outdoes him in it?

“To speak and write correctly gives a grace, and gains a favorable attention to what one has to say. And since ’t is English that an Englishman will have constant use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his style. To speak or write better Latin than English may make a man talked of; but he will find it more to his purpose to express himself well in his own tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain commendations of others for a very insignificant quality. This I find universally neglected, nor no care taken anywhere to improve young men in their own language, that they may thoroughly understand and be masters of it. If any one among us have a facility or purity more than ordinary in his mother tongue, it is owing to chance, or his genius, or any thing, rather than to his education or any care of his teacher. To mind what English his pupil speaks or writes, is below the dignity of one bred up among Greek and Latin, though he have but little of them himself. These are the learned languages, fit only for learned men to meddle with and teach; English is the language of the illiterate, vulgar. Though the great men among the Romans were daily exercising themselves in their own language; and we find yet upon the record the names of orators who taught some of their Emperors Latin, though it were their mother tongue. ’T is plain the Greeks were yet more nice in theirs. All other speech was barbarous to them but their own, and no foreign language appears to have been studied or valued amongst that learned and acute people; though it be past doubt that they borrowed their learning and philosophy from abroad.”

To the same purpose writes a person of eminent learning in a letter to Dr. Turnbull. “Nothing, certainly,” says he, “can be of more service to mankind than a right method of educating the youth, and I should be glad to hear ——— to give an example of the great advantage it would be to the rising age, and to our nation. When our public schools were first established, the knowledge of Latin was thought learning; and he that had a tolerable skill in two or three languages, thought his mind was not enlightened by any real knowledge, was a profound scholar. But it is not so at present; and people confess, that men may have obtained a perfection in these, and yet continue deeply ignorant. The Greek education was of another kind,” which he describes in several particulars, and adds: “they studied to write their own tongue more accurately than we do Latin and Greek. But where is English taught at present? Who thinks it of use to study correctly that language which he is to use every day in his life, be his station ever so high, or ever so insignificant. It is in this the nobility and gentry defend their country, and serve their prince in parliament; in this the lawyers plead, the divines instruct, and all ranks of people write their letters, and transact their affairs; and yet who thinks it worth his learning to write this even accurately, not to say politely? Every one is suffered to form his style by chance; to imitate the first wretched model which falls in his way, before he knows what is faulty, or can relish the beauties of a just simplicity. Few think their children qualified for a trade till they have been whipt at a Latin school for five or six years, to learn a little of that which they are obliged to forget; when in those years right education would have improved their minds, and taught them to acquire habits of writing their own language easily under right direction; and this would have been useful to them as long as they lived.”—Introd., pp. 3-5.

To form their pronunciation, they may be put on making declamations, repeating speeches, delivering orations, etc.; the tutor assisting at the rehearsals, teaching, advising, correcting their accent, etc. By pronunciation is here meant, the proper modulation of the voice, to suit the subject with due emphasis, action, etc. In delivering a discourse in public, designed to persuade, the manner, perhaps, contributes more to success, than either the matter or method. Yet the two latter seem to engross the attention of most preachers and other public speakers, and the former to be almost totally neglected.—B. F.


From the Pennsylvania Gazette.


Extract from an act of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, entitled, “An Act for directing the Mode of recovering Debts contracted before the first Day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven.”

Exceptions in Favor of British Creditors

“Sect. 7. And provided also, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that this Act nor any thing therein contained, shall not extend, or be construed to extend, to any debt or debts which were due before the fourth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, by any of the citizens of the State, to any of the subjects of Great Britain.”


On this point his sister replied: “I was a little suspicious whether Excellency was according to rule in addressing my brother at this time; but I did not write the address; and of late, because he lives nearer than Cousin Williams, I have sent my letters to Dr. Lathrop, who is very obliging to me, and I thought he must know what is right, and I gave no directions about it. But I shall do it another time.”—August 23d.


The Guadiana, which is said to run underground eighteen Spanish leagues.


Bigelow’s Life of Franklin, Vol. III., Appendix No. 5.


From the Federal Gazette, September 12, 1789.


The Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Blacks, mentioned in the next article.


Probably the Parable on Brotherly Love.


The Princess of Daschkoff had for several years held the office of President and Director of the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburgh.


The London Society for Promoting Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, of which Mr. Moore was Secretary.


The first Constitution of Pennsylvania was adopted in 1776. Dr. Franklin was a principal agent in forming it. The following Queries and Remarks were written in reply to a paper, entitled “Hints for the Members of Convention,” which was published in the Federal Gazette, November 3, 1789.—Editor.


The note from President Stiles, to which this is a reply, was dated at Yale College, 28th January, 1790, and runs as follows:

Ezra Stiles
Stiles, Ezra

We have lately received Governor Yale’s portrait from his family in London, and deposited it in the college library, where is also deposited one of Governor Saltonstall’s. I have also long wished that we might be honored with that of Dr. Franklin. In the course of your long life, you may probably have become possessed of several portraits of yourself. Shall I take too great a liberty in humbly asking a donation of one of them to Yale College? You obliged me with a mezzotinto picture of yourself many years ago, which I often view with pleasure. But the canvas is more permanent. We wish to be possessed of the durable remembrance of the American patriot and philosopher. You have merited and received all the honors of the republic of letters; and are going to a world where all sublunary glories will be lost in the glories of immortality. Should you shine throughout the intellectual and stellary universe, with the eminence and distinguished lustre with which you have appeared in this little detached part of the creation, you would be, what I most fervently wish to you, sir, whatever may be my fate in eternity. The grand climacteric, in which I now am reminds me of the interesting scenes of futurity.

“You know, sir, that I am a Christian, and would to heaven all others were such as I am, except my imperfections and deficiencies of moral character. As much as I know of Dr. Franklin, I have not an idea of his religious sentiments. I wish to know the opinion of my venerable friend concerning Jesus of Nazareth. He will not impute this to impertinence or improper curiosity in one who for so many years has continued to love, estimate, and reverence his abilities and literary character with an ardor and affection bordering on adoration. If I have said too much, let the request be blotted out and be no more; and yet I shall never cease to wish you that happy immortality which I believe Jesus alone has purchased for the virtuous and truly good of every religious denomination in Christendom, and for those of every age, nation, and mythology who reverence the Deity are filled with integrity, righteousness, and benevolence. Wishing you every blessing, I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

Ezra Stiles.

It seems worthy of note here that the terms in which Bryant records the faith and trust of the poet Rogers in the goodness of God are substantially the same as those here used by Franklin. It enabled both to contemplate the approach of death with cheerfulness:

“In approaching the close of a life so much prolonged beyond the usual lot of man—a life the years of which circumscribed the activity of three generations—he contemplated his departure with the utmost serenity. The state of man after death he called the great subject, and calmly awaited the moment when he should be admitted to contemplate its mysteries. ‘I have found life in this world,’ he used to say, ‘a happy state; the goodness of God has taken care that none of its functions, even the most inconsiderable, should be performed without sensible pleasure; and I am confident that in the world to come the same care for my happiness will accompany me.’ ”—Godwin’s Life of Bryant, Vol. II., p. 86.


Probably the letter presumed to have been written to Whitefield, and dated Philadelphia, June 6, 1753.—Editor.


The letter here alluded to is one supposed to have been written to Thomas Paine.—Editor.


Dr. Franklin’s name, as President of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery, was signed to the memorial presented to the House of Representatives of the United States, on the 12th of February, 1789, praying them to exert the full extent of power vested in them by the Constitution, in discouraging the traffic of the human species. This was his last public act. In the debates to which this memorial gave rise, several attempts were made to justify the trade. In the Federal Gazette of March 25, 1790, there appeared an essay, signed Historicus, written by Dr. Franklin, in which he communicated a speech, said to have been delivered in the Divan of Algiers, in 1687, in opposition to the prayer of the petition of a sect called Erika, or Purists, for the abolition of piracy and slavery. This pretended African speech was an excellent parody of one delivered by Mr. Jackson of Georgia. All the arguments urged in favor of negro slavery are applied with equal force to justify the plundering and enslaving of Europeans. It affords, at the same time, a demonstration of the futility of the arguments in defence of the slave-trade, and of the strength of mind and ingenuity of the author at his advanced period of life. It furnishes, too, a no less convincing proof of his power of imitating the style of other times and nations than his celebrated Parable against Persecution. And as the latter led many persons to search the Scriptures with a view to find it, so the former caused many persons to search the book-stores and libraries for the work from which it was said to be extracted.”—Dr. Stuber.

This paper is dated only twenty-four days before the author’s death, which happened on the 17th of April following.—Editor.


This letter, which was such a satisfactory test of the unabated strength of Franklin’s memory, was written during the illness which was destined to prove his last, and only nine days before his death. He died on the 17th of April, 1790, aged eighty-four years and three months.

During the greatest part of his life Dr. Franklin had enjoyed almost uninterrupted good health. In the year 1735, indeed, he had an attack of pleurisy, which ended in a suppuration of the left lobe of the lungs. But from this, as well as from another attack of the same kind, he recovered completely.

As he advanced in years, however, he became subject to fits of the gout, to which, in 1782, a nephritic colic was superadded. From this time, he was also affected with the stone, as well as the gout; and for the last twelve months of his life, these complaints confined him almost entirely to his bed.

“Notwithstanding his distressed situation,” his grandson tells us, “neither his mental faculties nor his natural cheerfulness ever forsook him. His memory was tenacious to the very last; and he seemed to be an exception to the general rule,—that at a certain period of life the organs which are subservient to this faculty become callous. A remarkable instance of which is, that he learned to speak French with considerable facility after he had attained the age of seventy!”

In the beginning of April, 1790, he was attacked with a fever and pain in his breast, which terminated his existence. The following account of his last illness was written by his friend and physician, Dr. Jones:

“The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed; and during the extremely painful paroxysms, he was obliged to take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures—still, in the intervals of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing cheerfully with his family, and a few friends who visited him, but was often employed in doing business of a public as well as private nature, with various persons who waited on him for that purpose; and in every instance displayed, not only that readiness and disposition of doing good, which was the distinguishing characteristic of his life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental abilities; and not unfrequently indulged himself in those jeux d’esprit and entertaining anecdotes, which were the delight of all who heard him.

About sixteen days before his death he was seized with a feverish indisposition, without any particular symptoms attending it, till the third or fourth day, when he complained of a pain in the left breast, which increased till it became extremely acute, attended with a cough and laborious breathing. During this state when the severity of his pains drew forth a groan of complaint, he would observe—that he was afraid he did not bear them as he ought—acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had received from that Supreme Being, who had raised him from small and low beginnings to such high rank and consideration among men—and made no doubt but his present afflictions were kindly intended to wean him from a world, in which he was no longer fit to act the part assigned him. In this frame of body and mind he continued till five days before his death, when his pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthumation, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a great quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had sufficient strength to do it; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed—a calm lethargic state succeeded—and, on the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven o’clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months.”

In a letter from Dr. Rush to Dr. Price, dated at Philadelphia a week after Franklin’s death, the writer says:

“The papers will inform you of the death of our late friend Dr. Franklin. The evening of his life was marked by the same activity of his moral and intellectual powers which distinguished its meridian. His conversation with his family upon the subject of his dissolution was free and cheerful. A few days before he died, he rose from his bed and begged that it might be made up for him so that he might die in a decent manner. His daughter told him that she hoped he would recover and live many years longer. He calmly replied, ‘I hope not.’ Upon being advised to change his position in bed, that he might breathe easy, he said, ‘A dying man can do nothing easy.

All orders and bodies of people have vied with each other in paying tributes of respect to his memory.”

Mrs. Hewson, writing to one of Dr. Franklin’s oldest friends in England, thus spoke of her own and the nation’s loss:

“We have lost that valued, that venerable, kind friend, whose knowledge enlightened our minds, and whose philanthropy warmed our hearts. But we have the consolation to think, that, if a life well spent in acts of universal benevolence to mankind, a grateful acknowedgment of Divine favor, a patient submission under severe chastisement, and an humble trust in Almighty mercy, can insure the happiness of a future state, our present loss is his gain. I was the faithful witness of the closing scene, which he sustained with that calm fortitude which characterized him through life. No repining, no peevish expression, ever escaped him during a confinement of two years, in which, I believe, if every moment of ease could be added together, would not amount to two whole months. When the pain was not too violent to be amused, he employed himself with his books, his pen, or in conversation with his friends; and upon every occasion displayed the clearness of his intellect and the cheerfulness of his temper. Even when the intervals from pain were so short, that his words were frequently interrupted, I have known him to hold a discourse in a sublime strain of piety. I say this to you, because I know it will give you pleasure.

I never shall forget one day that I passed with our friend last summer. I found him in bed in great agony; but, when that agony abated a little, I asked if I should read to him. He said, yes; and the first book I met with was Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. I read the Life of Watts, who was a favorite author with Dr. Franklin; and, instead of lulling him to sleep, it roused him to a display of the powers of his memory and his reason. He repeated several of Watts’ Lyric Poems, and descanted upon their sublimity in a strain worthy of them and of their pious author. It is natural for us to wish that an attention to some ceremonies had accompanied that religion of the heart, which I am convinced Dr. Franklin always possessed; but let us, who feel the benefit of them, continue to practise them, without thinking lightly of that piety, which could support pain without a murmur, and meet death without terror.”


This letter was written in French. For the original see Bigelow’s Life of Franklin, Vol. III., p. 465.

More than a month elapsed before William Temple Franklin announced the decease of his grandfather to their old friend, Le Veillard. It is difficult, even at this late day, to read with composure the excuses which he then assigned in the letter above for omitting all details of the last illness of his illustrious relative. This young man appears nowhere to so little advantage as in his utter inability to comprehend the nature and magnitude of his inheritance.

The mortal remains of Dr. Franklin were interred in the cemetery of Christ Church, in Philadelphia, beside those of his wife, on the 21st day of April, 1790. A plain marble slab covers the two graves, pursuant to the directions of his will, with no other inscription than their names and the year of his decease.

No funeral in America had ever before been so numerously attended, and no customary testimonial of respect for the most illustrious dead was lacking on this occasion. Dr. Smith, provost of the College of Philadelphia, and David Rittenhouse, one of its members, were selected by the Philosophical Society to prepare a suitable tribute to its founder, and President Stiles interpreted the sentiments of the collegiate institutions of the city in a Latin eulogy. On motion of Mr. Madison, it was unanimously resolved by Congress, then sitting in New York, “that the members should wear the customary badge of mourning for one month, as a mark of due veneration to the memory of a citizen whose native genius was not more an ornament to human nature than his various exertions of it have been precious to science, to freedom, and to his country.”

A more unusual, if not more flattering, homage was paid to the memory of the deceased by the National Assembly of France.

On the morning after the news reached Paris, June 11th, Mirabeau rose and addressed the Assembly as follows:

“Franklin is dead!

The genius, which gave freedom to America, and scattered torrents of light upon Europe, is returned to the bosom of the Divinity.

The sage, whom two worlds claim; the man, disputed by the history of the sciences and the history of empires, holds, most undoubtedly, an elevated rank among the human species.

Political cabinets have but too long notified the death of those who were never great but in their funeral orations; the etiquette of courts has but too long sanctioned hypocritical grief. Nations ought only to mourn for their benefactors; the representatives of free men ought never to recommend any other than the heroes of humanity to their homage.

The Congress hath ordered a general mourning for one month throughout the fourteen confederated States, on account of the death of Franklin; and America hath thus acquitted her tribute of admiration in behalf of one of the fathers of her Constitution.

Would it not be worthy of you, fellow-legislators, to unite yourselves in this religious act, to participate in this homage rendered in the face of the universe to the rights of man, and to the philosopher who has so eminently propagated the conquest of them throughout the world?

Antiquity would have elevated altars to that mortal, who for the advantage of the human race, embracing both heaven and earth in his vast and extensive mind, knew how to subdue thunder and tyranny.

Enlightened and free, Europe at least owes its remembrance and its regret to one of the greatest men who has ever served the cause of philosophy and of liberty.

I propose, that a decree do now pass, enacting, that the National Assembly shall wear mourning during three days for Benjamin Franklin.”

La Rochefoucauld and Lafayette rose immediately to second the motion of the orator, which was adopted by acclamation. It was further resolved that the discourse of Mirabeau should be printed, and that the President of the Assembly, the Abbé Sieyès, should address a letter of condolence to the Congress of the United States.

“The name of Benjamin Franklin,” said President Sieyès, in fulfilling the instructions of the Assembly, “will be immortal in the records of freedom and philosophy; but it is more particularly dear to a country where, conducted by the most sublime mission, this venerable man knew how very soon to acquire an infinite number of friends and admirers, as well by the simplicity and sweetness of his manners, as by the purity of his principles, the extent of his knowledge, and the charms of his mind.”

To this letter, in compliance with the instructions of Congress, President Washington sent a reply, in which he said that “so peculiar and so signal an expression of the esteem of so respectable a body for a citizen of the United States, whose eminent and patriotic services are indelibly engraved on the minds of his countrymen, cannot fail to be appreciated by them as it ought to be.”

Two days after the decree of the National Assembly, M. de la Rochefoucauld read to the “Society of 1789” a paper on the Life and Character of Franklin. The Commune of Paris also ordered a celebration in his honor, and invited the Abbé Fauchet to deliver a eulogy of the deceased, of which they sent twenty-six copies to Congress. Condorcet pronounced an elaborate eulogy also before the Académie des Sciences, on the 13th November. The printers of Paris testified their sense of the loss their calling had sustained by assembling in a large hall, in presence of a column surmounted by a bust of Franklin, with a civic crown upon his head, and surrounded by printers, cases, types, press, etc. And while one of their number delivered a eulogy, they printed it on the spot, and delivered copies of it to the vast concourse attracted by the occasion.

The city of Passy, then a suburb, but now one of the most attractive parts of the city of Paris, testified its respect for Franklin’s memory by giving his name to one of its principal streets within less than a year after his decease, the impulse, no doubt, of his old friend, Le Veillard, who was then Mayor of that place. The motives for this step are officially set forth in the following extract from the official register, which was kindly furnished the editor by the custodian des Archives de la Bibliothèque et des Travaux historiques, at the Hôtel de Ville, of Paris, in 1866:

“On Saturday, the third of September, of the year seventeen hundred and ninety-one, at seven o’clock in the morning. . . .

The council-general offers no opposition to the execution of the decree relating to the inscriptions of the names of the streets, while observing that the old denominations be followed, with the exception of that running from the Grand Rue to the heretofore barrier of the Ladies of St. Mary, which not yet having received any name shall bear that of Franklin, in perpetual remembrance to the inhabitants of this municipality of the long sojourn of that eminent man in this parish.”

As the register from which the foregoing is an extract was destroyed with the Hôtel de Ville in 1871, and as there is probably no other record of this interesting deliberation now in existence, save that from which I quote, I need offer no apology for giving the authenticated record at length in these pages.

Secrétariat général, 3e Section 3e Bureau


Exposé des motifs qui ont fait donner le nom de Franklin à une des rues de la commune de Passy

D’un régistre déposé aux archives de la Préfecture de la Seine, contenant les déliberations du Conseil général de la commune de Passy et portant au commencement la date du 3 Juillet 1791, a été extrait ce qui suit:

L’an mil sept quatre-vingt-onze, le samedi trois Septembre sept heures de relevée. . . . Le Conseil général ne s’oppose pas à ce que l’arrêt relatif au jour pris pour la perception et celui relatif aux inscriptions des noms de rues soient exécutés, en observant à l’égard des rues, que les anciennes dénominations soient suivies, à l’exception de celle allant de la grande rue à la cydevant Barrière des Dames Sainte-Marie, laquelle, n’ayant point encore de nom, portera celui de Franklin, pour rappeler à perpetuité aux habitants de cette municipalité le long séjour de ce grand homme sur la paroisse. . . .

Signé au régistre:
Leveillard (Maire),
Dussault et Periseux
(Officiers municipaux),
Toussaint, Girandier,
Dandumont, Husson,
Harroel et Ollivier

Certifié conforme à l’original.

La chef de la section des archives de la bibliothèque et des travaux historiques.—Charles Read.


This part of Franklin’s will was prepared about two years before his death. His estate was then estimated to be fairly worth about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

He never saw his son William after they separated at Southampton, in 1785, nor does it appear that they ever held any correspondence with each other subsequent to that event. The ex-governor continued to reside in London, and attained the ripe age of eighty-two years. After the war he married a second time, but there is no evidence that he left any issue by these nuptials.—Editor.


The dwelling-house in which Franklin died was torn down in 1812, and the carriage-way which led to it is now called Franklin Court.—Editor.


In pursuance of the instructions and implications of this clause, Mrs. Bache sold the outer circle of diamonds, and upon the proceeds she and her husband made the tour of Europe. The miniature was as late as 1874 in the custody of W. J. Duane, Esq., of Philadelphia.—Editor.


Mrs. Mecom survived to enjoy her illustrious brother’s liberality about four years, when she too was gathered to her fathers, the last of seventeen children, at the ripe age of eighty-two.—Editor.


William Temple Franklin sailed for England soon after his grandfather’s death, and never returned to the United States. Of his career in England little is known beyond what is set forth in the “Introductory” pages of this work in relation to his part in the publication of his father’s papers. He died in Paris in 1823.—Editor.


This boy was born August 12, 1769, accompanied his grandfather to Paris, was some time at school at Geneva, and finally became the first publisher and editor of the Aurora newspaper. He married Margaret Hartman Markoe, a native of Santa Cruz, of Danish origin, and died in Philadelphia of yellow fever, September 10, 1798, leaving four children, two of whom died unmarried. All the male descendants of the other two, I believe, hold or have held positions of distinction and influence.—Editor.


This one hundred pounds proved a singularly auspicious investment. With the addition of a little to the fund from the city treasury of Boston, its medals have rewarded the diligence and exemplary conduct of over four thousand boys who have been found to merit them, and have no doubt stimulated to extra exertion perhaps hundreds of thousands who were less fortunate. The amount of this fund has more than doubled since Franklin’s death.—Editor.


This bequest did not realize the hopes and wishes of its author. After trying seven years to get something from it, the managers of the hospital decided formally that, as many of the bequeathed debts were small, numbers of them due from persons unknown, and all of them from thirty to sixty years old, which precludes every hope of recovering as much as will answer the demands exhibited against the decedent, the legacy be not accepted, and the ledger be returned to the Doctor’s heirs.—Editor.


These bequests have failed to realize the hopes of the testator. The conditions upon which the money was to be loaned were all practically fatal to its success. The number of persons who are married, under twenty-five years of age, in need of so small a sum as two hundred dollars, who would be able and willing to produce two responsible sureties for a loan, has probably diminished every year in Boston since Franklin’s death.

There were but two hundred and fifty-five loans from this fund from May, 1791, to the end of the year 1836, in sums varying from seventy dollars to two hundred and sixty-six up to the year 1800, and of about two hundred dollars since that time. From July, 1811, to 1836, fifty out of ninety-one loans were repaid in whole or in part by sureties.

The following extract from the report of the City Auditor of Boston for 1872-3 gives the condition of the fund up to that time:

“Amount of fund (for mechanics) as per report of F. U. Tracy, City Treasurer, Jan. 1, 1873, $171,315.80
Amount January 1, 1872, $160,911.15
Interest accrued during the year 10,404.65
$171,315.80 $171,315.80

“No loan has been made in 1873. Only one application was made during the year, and upon that the aldermen had not acted up to November.

The Treasurer also reports that he will have to sue one or two of the three bonds now out.”

The fate of the bequest in Philadelphia, so far as it has differed from this, has been for the worse. It was more reckessly lent and the unloaned balances less prudently invested.

The following statement of the condition of the fund, taken from the Third Annual Report of the Directors of City Trusts, for the year 1872, shows that its accumulations are scarce one third as great as those of the Boston fund:

Income to be loaned to young married artificers who have served an apprenticeship in Philadelphia, and faithfully fulfilled the duties required in their indentures, and who can furnish two satisfactory securities for the return of the money. (Application for this loan can be made to Charles Oat, No. 19 South Fifth St.)
5 per cent. City of Philadelphia Loan $ 4,300.00
6 per cent. City of Philadelphia Loan 47,900.00
Loaned to young married artificers 950.00
Jan. 1. By balance $82.79
By cash, 12 months’ interest on City Loan 2,414.35
By cash, City Loan paid off 500.00
By cash, from R. W. B. King, 1st instalment on Loan to him 30.00
Jan. 4. To cash, invested in City Loan $2,100.00
To cash, Loans made during 1872 750.00
To cash, Expenses of Trust 124.25
Dec. 31. To balance 52.89
$3,027.14 $3,027.14

The foregoing epitaph was written by Dr. Franklin for himself, when he was only twenty-three years of age, as appears by the original (with various corrections), found among his papers, and from which this is a faithful copy.—W. T. F.


The young man here referred to was a Mr. Hall, who in the following June arrived at Philadelphia, consigned to Mr. James Read, who appears to have been a dealer in books and stationery in that city. Mr. Hall entered into Franklin’s employ at once and soon became his partner. When Franklin went abroad as agent of the Colonies, Hall succeeded to the business. Mr. Read, in a letter to William Strahan, dated Philadelphia, Feb. 12, 1744, says:

“Mr. Hall is perfectly well and gains ground daily in the esteem of all that know him. I have no doubt that Mr. Hall will succeed well in all he undertakes. He is obliging, discreet, industrious, and honest, and where those qualities meet, things seldom go amiss.

Nothing in my power shall be wanting to serve him.”

In another letter from Mr. Read, dated July 1, 1744, he says:

“I wish you did but know that Mr. Hall is with me in perfect health. I have assured him (and he shall find me sincere) that I will be his friend in every case where I can assist him, and will omit no pains by which I can make this distance from his old acquaintance easy to him, and shall introduce him into such a new acquaintance as shall make his leisure hours pass on pleasantly. I believe he is well satisfied with his present situation, and I hope will succeed well in any scheme which Mr. Franklin and he may enter into.

On this head I refer you to himself, as he is now writing.

. . . In my last I hinted that I would have you decline dealing with Mr. Franklin for books upon his writing for them, but I would rather have you do it than not, upon second thoughts. For I believe a close correspondence between you and him may be of service both to Mr. Hall and yourself.”


The “Spouse” here alluded to, Sarah Franklin, afterwards Mrs. Bache, was then in the sixth year of her age. Master Strahan the “son-in-law” was presumably not much older.


Preparatory to his admission to the bar. See p. 249, letter of Feb. 4, 1750.


Merchant in London.


This postscript is in Franklin’s handwriting.


Address: “To Mr. John Franklin. Boston. Free. B. Franklin.”


For the privilege of publishing this letter I am indebted to the courtesy of Dr. F. N. Otis, of New York, to whom I am also indebted for the following instructive note:

F. N. Otis
Otis, F. N.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
My Dear Mr. Bigelow:

The letter of Benjamin Franklin, written in 1752, in regard to the manufacture of a flexible catheter, seems to convey the impression that the instrument he so graphically describes was one of his own invention. I think, however, that it simply indicates his familiarity with the instrument previously in use abroad. The first mention of a flexible catheter which I can find is by Roncalus, who at first used a catheter made of a band of silver twisted in a spiral and covered with a fine skin. This he improved in 1720 by ‘winding the spiral with entwisted silk, then dipped it in rosin, and afterward gave it a coat of Nuremberg plaster.’

“Bernard, a jeweller (according to French authority), in 1800 (or thereabouts) sewed finely woven silk upon a staff or mandril and stiffened it with elastic gum. This is practically the method which is in use in the manufacture of catheters and other flexible urethral instruments at the present day.

Very truly yours,
F. N. Otis.

This note in the margin is in a different handwriting from the body of the letter, and was doubtless made by John, to whom it was addressed.


Benjamin, the son of his sister, Mrs. Mecom.


From the papers in the New Haven Colony Historical Society Collection.


This is but one of several intimations that Franklin had serious thoughts of quitting America, and establishing himself in England. How different might have been the history of both countries, had this intention ripened.


Endorsed: “Plans Gen. Extract of a letter from Benjamin Franklin, Esq., Deputy Postmaster-General of North America to the Secretary of the Post-Office, dated January 16, 1764, respecting the communication carried on between New York and other colonies by post. Read March 3, 1764. R. 46.”


I do not find this passage precisely in any of Voltaire’s writings. It certainly is not in the most accepted edition of his Traité sur la Tolérance. Franklin probably quoted at second-hand. What Voltaire actually wrote, which is the foundation for Franklin’s quotation probably, will be found in his Commentaire sur le livre des délits et des peines (Œuvres de Voltaire par Beuchot, vol. 42, p. 476), and runs as follows:

“Le Parlement de Toulouse a un usage bien singulier. On admet aillieurs des demi-preuves, qui au fond ne sont que des doutes; car on sait qu’il n’y a point de demi-vérités: mais à Toulouse on admet des quarts et des huitièmes de preuves. On y peut regarder, par example, un ouï-dire comme un quart, un autre ouï-dire plus vague comme un huitième; de sorte que huit rumeurs qui ne sont qu’un écho d’un bruit mal fondé peuvent devenir une preuve complète.”—Editor.


The modern practice of extorting subscriptions for monuments to political notorieties and for dowers to their widows would seem to prove that this phase of Scythianism “still lives.”


Probably the Plan for Benefiting Distant Unprovided Countries, see Vol. V., p. 264.


Of West Bradford, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. I am indebted for this letter to Alfred D. Chandler, Esq., of Boston.


This letter, which was intercepted and ultimately found its way to the English Public Record Office, from whence this copy is taken, is thus endorsed:

“A scurrilous and very wicked letter, being highly defamatory of the Earl of Hillsborough, and contains the most criminal insinuations and instigations against the authority of the British Parliament in North America. This letter intimates dangerous negotiations in the manufacturing towns of Yorkshire—by them to raise jealousies in both countries.”


Or charge against the king himself. I have not the book by me from whence this note was taken, but think it was some minister of Henry VI. Search the history.


This letter was intercepted by English cruisers, and in due time found its way to the English Public Record Office. It is endorsed: “Very remarkable and requires no commentary.”

A portion of it is presented in the fifth volume at page 288, as given by Sparks. Since this collection of letters was made, I have become indebted to Mr. B. F. Stevens, of London, for a copy of the entire letter, of which the unpublished part constitutes so large a portion that I have determined to give the letter here complete.—Editor.


When read by the light of current events in Great Britain and the United States in the year of our Lord 1887, this paragraph furnishes a startling illustration of Franklin’s sagacity and foresight.


It is interesting to compare Franklin’s impressions of Ireland in 1772 with those of Arthur Young, another acute observer, four years later, and note the inconsiderable change for the better during the intervening century. In his Tour in Ireland, 1776-1779, Young writes: “So much knowledge of the state of a country is gained by hearing the debates of a Parliament that I often frequented the gallery of the House of Commons. Since Mr. Flood has been silenced with the Vice-Treasurership of Ireland, Mr. Daly, Mr. Grattan, Sir William Osborn, and the prime sergeant Burgh are reckoned high among the Irish orators. I heard many very eloquent speeches, but I cannot say they struck me like the exertion of the abilities of Irishmen in the English House of Commons, owing perhaps to the reflection both on the speaker and auditor, that the Attorney-General of England, with a dash of his pen, can reverse, alter, or entirely do away the matured result of all the eloquence and all the abilities of this whole assembly. Before I conclude with Dublin I shall only remark that walking in the streets there, from the narrowness and populousness of the principal thoroughfares, as well as from the dirt and wretchedness of the canaille, is a most uneasy and disgusting exercise.

. . . . . . . .

“A landlord in Ireland can scarcely invent an order which a servant, laborer, or cottar dares to refuse to execute. Nothing satisfies him but an unlimited submission. Disrespect, or any thing tending towards sauciness, he may punish with his cane or his horsewhip with the most perfect security; a poor man would have his bones broke if he offered to lift his hands in his own defence. Knocking-down is spoken of in the country in a manner that makes an Englishman stare. Landlords of consequence have assured me that many of their cottars would think themselves honored by having their wives and daughters sent for to the bed of their master, a mark of slavery that proves the oppression under which such people must live. Nay, I have heard anecdotes of the lives of people being made free with without any apprehension of the justice of a jury. But let it not be imagined that this is common; formerly it happened every day, but law gains ground. It must strike the most careless traveller to see whole strings of cars whipped into a ditch by a gentleman’s footman to make way for his carriage; if they are overturned or broken in pieces, no matter; it is taken in patience; were they to complain they would perhaps be horsewhipped. The execution of the laws lies very much in the hands of justices of the peace, many of whom are drawn from the most illiberal class in the kingdom. If a poor man lodges a complaint against a gentleman, or any animal that chooses to call itself a gentleman, and the justice issues out a summons for his appearance, it is a fixed affront, and he will infallibly be called out. Where manners are in conspiracy against law, to whom are the oppressed people to have recourse? It is a fact that a poor man having a contest with a gentleman must — but I am talking nonsense; they know their situation too well to think of it; they can have no defence, but by means of protection from one gentleman against another, who probably protects his vassal as he would the sheep he intends to eat.

The colors of this picture are not charged. To assert that all these cases are common would be an exaggeration, but to say that an unfeeling landlord would do all this with impunity is to keep strictly to truth, and what is liberty but a farce and a jest if its blessings are received as the favor of kindness and humanity instead of being the inheritance of right?

. . . . . . . .

A better treatment of the poor in Ireland is a very material point of the welfare of the whole British Empire. Events may happen which may convince us fatally of this truth; if not, oppression must have broken all the spirit and resentment of men. By what policy the government of England can for so many years have permitted such an absurd system to be matured in Ireland is beyond the power of plain sense to discover.”


The following memorandum is written in the margin of p. 2 and scratched through with a pen:

[Sent my father another bill for £30 sterling by Capt. Falkner in Nov., 1774,—and lent my mother some time before 3½ Joes (£9) to be charged to my father].—W. F.


A small portion of this letter as published by Sparks is given in Vol. VI., p. 349. Since this collection was first made the manuscript of the letter has been found, and at the risk of reprinting a portion I have thought it my duty to give the letter here entire.—Editor.


The State Department has no key to the cipher here used by Franklin.—Editor.