Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Hodgson, 4 December 1780

From William Hodgson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 4 Decemr. 1780

Dear sir

I rec’d your favor of the 24th Octr with the accot of Prisoners Released3 which I laid before the Board of Sick & Hurt & they are allowed in Acc’t, there remains due from you 41 Prisoners to make up the Number of the last Cartel, & untill that Debt is paid it is in Vain to expect any more exchanges.4

Inclosed you have an Acc’t of the expenditure of the one hundred pounds Rec’d from Mr Grand for the Relief of the Prisoners distresses—5 There have been lately near one hundred more committed to Forton, the publick Subscription6 is in a manner exhausted, so that very little more future help can be expected from that Quarter— Mens Minds seem more & more soured in this unhappy contest, insomuch, that to have even common Sentiments of Humanity towards Americans, is sufficient to expose such as possess them to obloquy & Reproach, However upon that Ground no Reproaches shall alter my Resolution to do all that in me lies, consistent with the Laws of my Country to alleviate their distress, persuaded that by so doing, I shall have the perfect complacency & Satisfaction of my own Mind— At the same Time it is not only necessary to act perfectly right, but is also necessary to avoid all cause of Censure by avoiding every concern but what Relates to the Objects which have hitherto been the sole purpose of our Correspondence, in that Line or in any conciliatory Measure you may freely command me, I decline no difficulty because upon that Ground I can face any Man or body of Men—I am with great Respect Dr sir your most Obedt. Hble serv

William Hodgson

P.S. Am sorry to acquaint you our old Friend Mr Bentley died last week much regretted by the old Club—7 Your last inclosure was forwarded as directed alltho I have not the least doubt but that it was of a Nature perfectly innocent, yet in future I wish you to avoid that mode of Conveyance.

March 31.8 Cash to Mr Wren at Portmo £ 21—  
Do Mr Heath at Plymo 10.10 
May 31. a distressed American Capt 4. 4 
Oct. Cash Mr. Wren 20   
Sundry Clothing to Portmo & Plym 37. 9.6
Cash & Cloths to some prisoners in Wood st Compter9  6.16.6

Addressed: Dr. Franklin / Passy

Notation: Hodgson William. London Decr. 4. 1780.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Actually, WTF had written Hodgson on behalf of his grandfather, then ill with gout, on Oct. 21. That letter enclosed a now-missing list of prisoners who had been delivered on Oct. 5 to Capt. George Bagster of the cartel ship James at Calais (probably from St. Omer: XXXIII, 313) and asked that credit be given for them. BF had not yet received an answer about American-made prisoners in Spain, except that those taken by Capt. Harridan [Haraden] had been successfully sent to America. Library of Congress.

4The last British cartel ship sent with American prisoners to Morlaix had to return empty for want of British prisoners in exchange; the board (which had arranged the exchange) had expressed to Hodgson its disgust: XXXII, 167–8, 305–6, 556.

5Probably the money BF had sent Hodgson in March for prisoner relief: XXXII, 81n.

6Which Hodgson had helped to organize: XXXI, 142n.

7Josiah Wedgwood’s partner Thomas Bentley (XXI, 190n) died on Nov. 26: DNB. Like BF and Hodgson, he had been a member of the Club of Thirteen: XXI, 119–20; XXXII, 81n.

8The following payments are listed in Account XXVII (XXXIII, 6).

9For Wood Street compter (prison) see Henry B. Wheatley, London Past and Present … (3 vols., London, 1891), III, 530–1.

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