Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan: Two Versions, 24 January 1780

To William Strahan: Two Versions5

(I) Two AL (drafts): American Philosophical Society; (II) ALS: Pierpont Morgan Library; AL (draft): American Philosophical Society


Passy, Jan. 24. 1780


Your intelligent Friend has I think been misinformed. It does not seem to me at all probable, that Propositions of Peace are coming to England from America.6 You began the War, and it belongs to you to propose putting an End to it, which you will do when you think you have had enough of it. You will find your Enemies always ready to listen to Terms that are just & reasonable; which we think you never were. It is impossible to “take in evil Part” your Offers of Service to the General Cause in any Negociation for a Reconciliation. I wish the good Disposition you express were more general.7 I congratulate you on the Marriage of your Daughter, which I lately heard of. I am your formerly affectionate Friend & humble Servant


Passy, Jan. 24. 1780


I received yours of Dec. 31. By this time you are probably satisfied that the Subject of it was a Mistake, & therefore requires no Answer.8 I congratulate you on the Marriage of your Daughter, which I lately heard of.9 My ancient Regard for her is undiminish’d, and my best Wishes attend her. Please to present to Mrs. Strahan the Respects of Your long affectionate humble Servant

B Franklin

W. Strahan Esqe.

Addressed: To / Wm Strahan Esqr / M. P. / London / per favour of / Mr Strange1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5In answer to Strahan’s Dec. 31 letter, above, BF first penned an angry retort, which we print as (I). Half way through making a fair copy of it, he apparently thought better of sending it (as he had done with Strahan on an earlier occasion: XXII, 85). He lined through what he had written and immediately below it drafted letter (II), which he marked “sent.”

6BF added a caret at this point in the text, probably indicating the insertion of a sentence written in the margin: “It is one of the annual January Tales, fram’d to amuse the Lenders of Money, before the new Loan.” He did not, however, incorporate it into the fair copy.

7Deleted: “Sacrifices enough have been made to Moloch.”

8On Dec. 31 Strahan had reported prematurely JA’s arrival in France to negotiate peace. BF had not yet received the letter informing him of JA’s appointment as peace commissioner (XXX, 542–4) nor apparently JA’s Dec. 8 announcement of his arrival in Spain, above.

9Margaret Penelope Strahan married John Spottiswoode on June 10, 1779: X, 137n. As a child she had chosen BF as her future husband and BF called her his “little Wife”: X, 162, 169; William Strahan to BF, May 27, 1782 (APS).

1The engraver Robert Strange, who carried correspondence between BF and his English friends: XXIII, 226–7; XXVI, 600; XXVII, 96–8.

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