Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Stockton, 23 February 1765

From Richard Stockton1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New York, Febry. 23d. 1765


I came to this Town in Expectation of going [torn] in the Packet, but it’s very sudden Departure made [it impos]sible for me to be ready.2 I was favoured with several Letters from our Governour,3 which were sent me here yesterday by Express; and he put into my Care a large Packet as well as two Letters directed you,4 these I have got Mr. [Keller?] to pack up in his Trunk, with a promise to deliver them to you under the greatest Care. I had concluded not to send the inclosed Letters from the Governour, but bring them myself when the next packet may sail: but considering that perhaps they contain some matters of Business necessary to be know speedily, and that some some accident may prevent my coming, have inclosed them to you. It would be unneccessary to inform you of any American Affairs as the Governour no doubt has done it in the best way as a Friend to what I concieve the real Interest of Pennsylvania, I heartily w[ish] you success in your Embassy from that Colony: and am with the greatest Esteem, Sir your most obedient humble Servant,

Richd Stockton

Dr Franklin

1Richard Stockton (1730–1781) of “Morven” near Princeton, N.J., graduated from Princeton in 1748, was a successful attorney, a member of the N.J. Council, 1768–76, a justice of the N.J. Supreme Court, 1774, a member of the Continental Congress, 1776, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Captured by the British during the invasion of New Jersey in 1776 and imprisoned in New York, he retired from public life after being released in a much weakened state. See Lyman H. Butterfield, “Morven: A Colonial Outpost of Sensibility. With Some Hitherto Unpublished Poems by Annis Boudinot Stockton,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, VI (Nov. 1944), 1–15; John Sanderson, Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, III (Phila., 1823), 81–115; Elizabeth F. Ellet, The Women of the American Revolution, III (N.Y., 1850), 13–34.

2Stockton did not, in fact, sail for England until June 1766; he remained there until well into 1767. While in England he joined BF in trying to persuade a committee of merchants to work for the repeal of the Currency Act of 1764 and was consulted on American affairs by Rockingham and Conway. On a journey to Scotland (to attempt to persuade John Witherspoon to accept the presidency of Princeton) he was given the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. See the sources cited in the note immediately above.

3One, a letter from Gov. William Franklin to William Strahan, Feb. 18, 1765, is in Pierpont Morgan Lib. It introduces Stockton as “a particular Friend” and asks Strahan to “treat him with the Sight of S[amue]l Johnson and a few more of your Authors; for we Americans when we go to England, have as much Curiosity to see a live Author as Englishmen have to see a live Ostrich, or Cherokee Sachem.”

4No letters from WF to his father during January or February 1765 have been found.

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