Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Belcher, 20 January 1752

From Jonathan Belcher

Letterbook copy: Massachusetts Historical Society

Eliz: Town (NJ) Janua: 20: 1752


I wrote you a few lines the 18th: of last month telling you of the misfortune that had befell your Electrical Globe.9 I have however made some use of the rest of the Apparatus and with Mr. Burr’s1 assistance have been electrifyd several times but at present without any alteration in my Nervous disorder. As Mr. Burr has such another Apparatus as yours and lends it to me I think to go on with the Operation some little time longer. I now return your Apparatus with a great many thanks and am very sorry for the mischance it met with.

I wish you and Mrs. Franklin happy in the joye of a new year and that you may live to see a long succession of such. I am Sir Your Assured Friend and Servant.

Mr. Franklin per Mrs. Teale

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9See above, p. 216; and also see pp. 197–8 for the first step in Belcher’s quest for health through electric-shock treatment.

1Aaron Burr (1716–1757), minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, N.J., was one of the original trustees of the College of New Jersey, 1746, and became its president, 1747, the college moving to his parsonage until Nassau Hall at Princeton was completed, 1756. Much interested in science, Burr lectured to the seniors on Martin’s Natural Philosophy; in the summer of 1751 he arranged with David James Dove to borrow the philosophical apparatus of the Academy of Philadelphia so that Lewis Evans might illustrate his lectures (see above, III, 48), and later that year he raised £200 to purchase apparatus for the college. Evans’ lectures stimulated at least one undergraduate to buy himself a small electrical machine. John Maclean, History of the College of New Jersey (Phila., 1877), I, 141–2.

Belcher was a warm friend of Burr and the college, to which he bequeathed his library. Burr, just returned from an exhausting journey through New England in 1757, heard that Belcher had died; he spent most of the night preparing a sermon and next day, in a high fever, traveled to Elizabeth to conduct the funeral. He died less than a month later. DAB.

Index Entries