Benjamin Franklin and John Foxcroft
to William Dunlap
Draft: American Philosophical Society
We have read your extraordinary Letter3 upon which we shall make no other Observation but this, That it is not in our Power to give a Discharge for your whole Debt to the Post Office on your Payment of a Part; the Debt not being to us but to the Crown: and that If you do not immediately come to a Settlement with us, in which we are willing to give you all the Assistance we can, our Duty will oblige us to commence Suit against you, whereby the Accounts will be examined and settled by indifferent Men; which indeed will be more agreable to us than a private Settlement, that might give Colour or Room for the abusive Reflections after[ward?] upon us, which you already seem forward to make them on us without the least Regard to Truth, as if we desired to oppress you, tho’ we have really no Interest in getting a farthing more from you than you ought to pay.4 Your Charge against your Predecessor you are hereby immediately called upon to make good; which if you can do, as it will be a Merit with Regard to the Office, may entitle you the more to favour from, Your humble Servants
F and F.
3. Possibly a reference to the first of Dunlap’s letters immediately above, but more probably to the second, even though that was addressed to BF alone, because of the mention in the final sentence here of Dunlap’s charge against WF’s management of his post-office accounts.
4. Apparently the suggestion of a public settlement “by indifferent Men” cooled Dunlap off. The affair seems to have been handled quietly. Two years later, after Dunlap had gone to Barbados and then to England, where he was ordained by the Bishop of London, he returned to Philadelphia and combined his printing with preaching in St. Paul’s Church. William Smith wrote the bishop, Dec. 18, 1766, complaining of Dunlap’s inadequate education, but said nothing about any past legal or financial difficulties, calling him “a simple inoffensive man whom I never could have thought of recommending for Orders tho’ I know no harm of him only wish he had not come here.” William S. Perry, ed., Papers Relating to the History of the Church in Pennsylvania, A.D. 1680–1778 (n.p., 1871), p. 412.