Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Finley, 17 March 1763

From Samuel Finley2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Princeton. March. 17th. 1763

Dear Sir,

I received Your Favour of the 7th Instant,3 with the Plan of Education in the College of Glasgow, inclosed,4 for which I most heartily Thank you. I have taken a Coppy of it, and return it inclosed according to your desire. I also delivered your Compliments, which were very acceptable.

I last night received a Letter, from a Gentleman,5 desiring me to form a Scheme for a Settlement on the Mississipi, and communicate it to some of my Friends in London, who have Access to Men in Power. I quickly resolved, that I had not Sufficient Skill in Politics for such an Undertaking; and if I even had, yet I have no Leizure to bring it to maturity: but wishing some good Plan might be laid, and considering who cou’d prosecute the Matter most advantageously, I soon fixed on Doctor Franklin, and there did and do rest. A Settlement there seems to me necessary; and if so, the Plan shou’d be well concerted, and popular. If Monopolies and Proprietaryships are admitted, I am afraid it will hurt, if not defeat the Design. The People wou’d most willingly adventure under a Leader of their own Chusing at first, and had rather have the King himself their Proprietary than any other.

I have only Time for these half-spoken embrio-notions. If you think that forming Such a Scheme wou’d be at all to the Purpose, I doubt not you will think of one.

Please, Sir, to accept my Sincere Compliments, in which mrs. Finley6 joins, and present the same to mrs. Franklin, and miss Sally. If his Excellency is yet with you, I wou’d, with all due Respect, beg his acceptance of the same. You will excuse my Hurry, and believe me to be, with cordial Respect, dear sir, Your most humble servant

Saml: Finley

Doctor Franklin

Endorsed: March 17th. 1763 Saml. Finley to B Franklin7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Samuel Finley (1715–1766) emigrated to Philadelphia in 1734 from County Armagh, Ireland. He studied at the famous “Log College,” a seminary founded at Neshaminy, Pa., by William Tennent to train New Light Presbyterian ministers, and he was ordained in 1742. Finley took a leading part in the Great Awakening, preaching as far north as Conn. and publishing several polemical pamphlets. From 1744 to 1761 he was a minister at Nottingham, Pa., where he conducted a school which produced such men as Benjamin Rush and John Bayard. On May 31, 1761, he was unanimously elected president of the College of N.J. and served until his death. DAB.

3Not found. The letter probably arose from discussions which BF had with Finley while he and WF were visiting the College of N.J. on March 2, 1763. See above, pp. 200–1 n.

4The plan has not been found. BF spent several days in Glasgow in September 1759, being admitted a burgess and guild brother on September 19, and may have acquired there either a published plan of education of the college or have taken notes which he passed on to Finley. See above, VIII, 430–1.


6Finley’s second wife, whom he married in 1761, was Anne Clarkson, the daughter of Matthew Clarkson of N.Y. and the stepdaughter of the famous revivalist, Gilbert Tennent. DAB. Her sister Catherine was the wife of Samuel Hazard, whose scheme for a western settlement BF had criticized in 1755; above, VI, 87. Her brother, Matthew Clarkson, was associated with BF in 1765 in a project to acquire lands in Nova Scotia. PMHB, LI (1927), 273–4 n.

7BF sent this letter to Richard Jackson, along with Finley’s of March 21.

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