Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 10 July 1743

To William Strahan9

ALS: Columbia University Library

Philada. July 10. 1743


Mr. Read1 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.2 I have already three Printing-Houses in three different Colonies,3 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, 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 Twelvemonths Good Work, and to defray his Passage back if he enclines to return to England. I am Sir, Your humble Servant unknown

B Franklin

Addressed: To  Mr Wm Strahan  London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9William Strahan (1715–1785), Scottish-born printer of Wine-Office Court, London; admitted to the Stationers’ Company of London, 1738; publisher, agent, adviser of David Hume, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, Edward Gibbon, William Robertson, and William Blackstone; published the Monthly Review, 1749, and the London Chronicle, 1757. He became King’s Printer in 1770 and Master of the Stationers’ Company in 1774; and was a member of Parliament, 1774–84. In reminiscent mood BF wrote Strahan, Aug. 19, 1784, that he remembered “your observing once to me, as we sat together in the House of Commons, that no two Journeymen Printers within your Knowledge had met with such Success in the World as our selves.” What began as a business correspondence continued more than forty years, deepening in confidence and friendship, hardly interrupted by differences over American affairs. Strahan proposed a marriage between his son William and BF’s daughter Sarah. DNB; [R. A. Austen-Leigh], The Story of a Printing House (2d edit., London, 1912); and “William Strahan and his Ledgers,” The Library, 4th ser., III (1923), 261–87. These ledgers and other records, papers, and correspondence are in the British Museum.

1James Read, a relative of Deborah Read Franklin, who had met Strahan in London, 1739–40.

2The young man was David Hall, who came over to Philadelphia the following year. See below, p. 409.

3BF’s own printing house in Philadelphia, Timothy’s in Charleston, and Parker’s in New York.

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