Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Bache, 19[–24] October 1775

To Richard Bache

ALS: Bristol, R.I., Historical Society

Cambridge Head Quarters, Oct. 19 [-24]. 1775.

Dear Son

We hear you have had an Alarm at Philada. I hope no ill consequences have attended it.7 I wonder I had no Line from you. I make no doubt of our People’s defending their City and Country bravely, on the most trying Occasions.

I hear nothing yet of Mr. Goddard, but suppose he is on the Road.8 I suppose we shall leave this Place next Week. I shall not return in Company with the other Delegates, as I must call for my Sister, and we shall hardly be able to travel so fast, but I expect to be at Philada within a few Days of them.

There has been a plentiful Year here as well as with us: And there are as many chearful Countenances among those who are driven from House and Home at Boston or lost their All at Charlestown, as among other People. Not a Murmur has yet been heard, that if they had been less zealous in the Cause of Liberty they might still have enjoy’d their Possessions. For my own Part tho’ I am for the most prudent Parsimony of the publick Treasure, I am not terrified by the Expence of this War, should it continue ever so long. A little more Frugality, or a little more Industry in Individuals will with Ease defray it. Suppose it £100,000 a Month or £1,200,000 a Year: If 500,000 Families will each spend a Shilling a Week less, or earn a Shilling a Week more; or if they will spend 6 pence a Week less and earn 6 pence a Week more, they may pay the whole Sum without otherwise feeling it. Forbearing to drink Tea saves three fourths of the Money; and 500,000 Women doing each threepence Worth of Spinning or Knitting in a Week will pay the rest.*I wish nevertheless most earnestly for Peace, this War being a truly unnatural and mischievous one: but we have nothing to expect from Submission but Slavery, and Contempt. I am ever Your affectionate Father


Love to dear Sally and the Children.

P.S. Oct. 24. We purpose setting out homewards tomorrow. Here is a fine healthy Army, wanting nothing but some Improvement in its Officers, which is daily making.

This Letter should have gone by last Post, but was left by Accident. You may publish the Part of it that is mark’d9 mentioning no Name. We have just receiv’d Advice of the burning of Falmouth Casco Bay; and are assur’d that Orders are come over to burn, ravage and destroy all the Sea Coast;1 such is the Government of the best of Princes! If the People of Philadelphia, to be more at their Ease in defending the City should think fit to remove their Families, and some of their Goods, do you after taking Care of Sally and the Children, remember to secure my Account Books and Writings which are in the Glass Desk and two Trunks in my Library. I hope too that the Library may be sav’d; but we must run all Risques, that being to bulky to be remov’d.

Addressed: To / Mr Richard Bache / Postmaster / Philadelphia

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7On Oct. 6 the Pa. committee of safety arrested Dr. John Kearsley (above, XXI, 516) and others for hatching a plot against Philadelphia. The conspirators had written Dartmouth promising that five thousand Loyalists would turn out if the same number of regular troops appeared, and had also sent a map of the Delaware on which they marked the location of the chevaux-de-frise. Smith, Letters, II, 151–3; see also William Duane, ed., Extracts from the Diary of Christopher Marshall . . . (Albany, N.Y., 1877), pp. 45–6; Pa. Col. Recs., X, 357–61.

8See BF to Greenleaf below, Oct. 26.

9BF made no marks.

1For accounts of this episode see Naval Docs., II, 500–2, 513–16, 590–2. The British commander reportedly informed a committee of townsfolk, before the bombardment, that orders had been received to destroy all the seaports on the American coast that would not deliver up their arms and give hostages. Ibid., p. 595.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º *How much more then may be done by the superior Frugality and Industry of the Men?

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