Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from David Hall, 27 January 1767

From David Hall

Letterbook copy: American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia Janry 27th. 1767

Dear Sir

I have your Favours of the 12th August, and 27th of September,7 now before me, which I ask Pardon for not answering sooner, but you may believe the Delay, did not proceed from Want of Respect.

As to the Contents of that, of the 26th. August, I need say nothing relating to them, as Mr. Brown, who is with you long before this can reach, will be able to inform you every thing, relating to your Sister’s Death, and the State of your Brother’s Affairs.8 And as to that of the 27th September, I shall only say, that Mrs. Franklin is always welcome, to any service it may be in my Power to do for her.9

You will, no Doubt, know too from Mr. Brown, if you had not heard it before, that a new Printing-Office is set up by Mr. Goddard, from Rhode Island; and that a Monday’s Paper, was to be published by him, the first Number of which appeared Yesterday, under the Title of The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser.1 As you must have seen his Proposals in our Paper, it is needless for me, to say anything, of what he proposes, or of his Invitation and Encouragement to come to this Place. All I shall trouble you with, relating to him is, that his Printing-Office being in one of your Houses; he having (as I am told) that office, that was Mecom’s; his working with a new Press that belongs to you; your Son being the first Mover of his coming this Way, as was given out by those that took in his Subscriptions, Mr. Galloway a principal Promoter of him; and the Wharton Family, and some others connected with them, uncommonly busy in dispersing his Proposals, and getting him Customers; All this I say, makes me at no loss to know who are his Friends, Nay, it is indeed said by some (and I would fain hope, some of them, at least are not designedly my Enemies) that you are a Partner in the House; but this, I will never allow my self to believe, having still, as I always had, the highest Opinion of your Honour, and know, that you will never forget that Clause of our Agreement, by which, tho’ you are not absolutely prohibited from being any farther concerned in the Printing-Business in this Place, yet so much is plainly implied.2 And my real Belief is, that you would not countenance any other Printer to my Disadvantage; but would be of any Service to me in your Power; and your Friendship, you may depend upon it, I shall always value, and endeavour to deserve.

Your Son’s interesting himself in this Affair, I do not much wonder at,3 as he threatned me with it above a Twelve Month’s ago, and alledged many Things against me, in a Letter I received from him, which I thought were unkind, and took the Liberty of telling him so; nay, he even found fault with me, for publishing some Things, which I had your particular Desire to do; One of which, An Address to John Montgomery Esq. of Cumberland County, which no Doubt, you will remember.4

However, since he, and one or two others, have carried their Resentments so far, I must even endeavour to bear the Mischief they intend me, as well as I can; having for my Comfort, that I never was guilty of doing any one thing to the Disadvantage of you, or your Family, or of doing one of the many base Things, he, in particular, laid to my Charge.

I should be exceeding glad, that the Affair of our Partnership was concluded, as you are at so great a Distance; and you, or I, or both of us may die, which might prove a great Inconvenience to me, or both of our Families. You wrote, you thought there were some considerable Mistakes in the Accounts, as settled by Mr. Parker, and that there were some Things, you did not understand. In answer to that I desired you, to point out these Mistakes, likewise what you did not understand, and they should be rectified, and cleared up; But to this I have had no Return.5

You know when you left Philadelphia, you thought you would be at Home time enough your self, to settle the Affairs of the Partnership, before the Term should expire; and yet it has been expired Twelve Months, and you are not returned; and something may happen that may keep you still longer in England than you design, and I shall not be easy, while so weighty an Affair remains unsettled; so must therefore beg, that you will let me know what the Mistakes are? You apprehend to be in the Accounts, and what it is you do not understand, with Directions to Mr. Parker how to act, that Things may be brought to a Conclusion.

As to the Outstanding Debts, they are very large, and am afraid, as I have often told you, that but a small Part of them, will ever be got in; but I shall keep a just Account of what I receive, and be accountable to you, for your Part of the Money.

Underneath I have stated the Account, as it now stands between us. Viz6

By Ballance due to me as Settled by Mr.
Parker Febry. 1st. 1766       £993  11  6

March 8. By Cash paid Mrs. Franklin as per Receipt 200 . .
July 12 By Ditto as per Ditto 91 . .
Novr. 25 By Ditto as per Ditto 50 . .
Decr. 27 By Ditto as per Ditto 160 . .
By Sundries had out of the Shop since 1 Febry. 1766 1 11 9
£1496 3 3
1767. Janry. 29. Cash received by D. Hall belonging to the Partnership since Febry 1st. to this Date.
£637.9 2½
B.F’s part of the above 318 14
Ballance due to D. Hall. £1177 8

This Sir, is the present State of our Account, supposing the settlement by Mr. Parker to be right. And I can remember nothing left out by me, excepting the Number of Historical Reviews of the Province of Pennsylvania you sent me for Sale, which quite escaped me.7 Also a few Books I may have sold, of those you left in a Press in the back Chamber, up one Pair of Stairs, and which you did not put down with the other Books you left in my hands, imagining as I suppose, that being unsaleable, they would fetch but little, however, they are still where you left them, except the few, as I said, may have been sold. The Number of the Reviews received, I do not just now remember, but think I have it in one of your Letters; and if I have not, you know how many you sent, the greatest Part of which, are still on hand. Your Family are all well, I am, Dear Sir Yours most affectionately


To Benjamin Franklin Esq Via Dublin per Capt. Plasket (Copy) per Capt Irwin8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF’s letter of August 12 not found; for that of Sept. 27, 1766, see above, XIII, 427.

8BF’s letter of August 26 (not found) probably explained to Hall his proposal, mentioned in his letter of that date to Mary Franklin, that she and Ephraim Brown go into a printing partnership, using the press and equipment formerly used by Benjamin Mecom and now stored in Philadelphia. See above, XIII, 391–2. Mary Franklin’s death, unknown to BF when he wrote, made this scheme inoperative.

9BF had thanked Hall for advancing money to DF.

1On the establishment of the Pennsylvania Chronicle with William Goddard as publisher and Joseph Galloway and Thomas Wharton as silent partners in the enterprise, see above, p. 9 n.

2In reply to this complaint BF wrote Hall, April 14 (below, pp. 126–7), that Goddard’s enterprise had been “set on foot without my Knowledge or Participation,” and that he had declined, prior to returning home, to consider an offer of assuming a share in it. He vigorously denied, however, that there was any agreement between Hall and himself, “either express’d or imply’d as you say,” prohibiting BF from being concerned in the printing business in Philadelphia after the expiration of the partnership. What may have passed between the two men in informal conversation at any time since 1748 cannot be known, but the text of the partnership agreement, Jan. 1, 1748, supports BF’s position; see above, III, 263–7. He had agreed there not to engage in working with any other types or materials in order to perform or cause to be performed any printing in another printing house “during the Continuance of the Copartnership as aforesaid,” without offering Hall an equal share in the operation. At the termination of the partnership Hall might buy from BF the printing equipment used by the partnership if he wished, otherwise he was to return it to BF. The phraseology of the agreement at this point leaves room for an implication that BF might return to the printing business in 1766 perhaps using this equipment if Hall had surrendered it, even though Hall might be continuing in the business with other materials and even possibly with a new partner.

3On this estrangement between WF and Hall, as explained from WF’s point of view, see above, XIII, 499–502. Although WF certainly encouraged the launching of the Chronicle under Goddard, he was not one of the silent partners in the firm and does not seem to have been financially involved in its operations.

4This address appeared in Pa. Gaz., Oct. 11, 1764. It was from inhabitants of the county congratulating Montgomery on his reelection to the Assembly and commending him and William Allen for opposing the petition for a change in the government. If BF had urged Hall to print this address and Montgomery’s reply, it may have been because these documents were so much more moderate in tone than an address to Isaac Saunders of Lancaster and his reply that had appeared in Pa. Jour., Aug. 16, 1764, and had brought upon Saunders severe criticism in the Assembly; above, XI, 340 n.

5As indicated above, XIII, 110–11, BF never did send Hall a copy of his “Observations” on the final accounts of the partnership.

6What follow here are initial entries (or sums forming parts of entries) in the account between BF and Hall as carried forwarded to Hall’s death in 1773, printed in full above, XIII, 101–4.

7BF had sent 500 copies to Hall for sale, but Hall had reported that they were not going very well; above, VIII, 402, 448, 453.

8Pa. Gaz., Feb. 12, 1767, reported the clearance for Whitehaven of the brig Tryal, Capt. J. Plasket, and of the brig Elizabeth, Capt. J. Erwin, for Falmouth.

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