Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Barton, 31 May 1783

From William Barton1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. May 31st. 1783


Altho’ I am, personally, an entire Stranger to your Excellency, you may perhaps recollect the late Revd. Mr. Barton,2 a Clergyman of Lancaster in this State, whose Son I am.

Permit me, Sir, to introduce to your Notice as an American, the Bearer of this, my Brother Matthias Barton; who has resided some Time at L’Orient, as a Merchant, in Copartnership with a Nephew of Mr. Macarty of the House of Cuming and Macarty.3

I beg your Excelly. will pardon this Liberty, which I should not take, if my Brother’s Character would not bear the strictest Scrutiny: My own Name is, I beleive, not unknown to some Americans at Paris.

I have the Honor to be, With the highest Respect, sir, Your Excelly’s. most obedt. hble. servt.

W. Barton

Dr. Franklin.

Addressed: His Excelly. / Benjn. Franklin, Esqr. L.L.D. / Minister &c. &c. / Versailles. / Mr. M. Barton

Notation: Barton May 31. 1783

1Barton (1754–1817), a lawyer in Lancaster, Pa., was an advocate for the revitalization of paper money and the author of Observations on the Nature and Use of Paper-Credit; and the Peculiar Advantages to be derived from it, in North America … (Philadelphia, 1781). He assisted Charles Thomson in designing the Great Seal of the United States in 1782 (XXXVIII, 152n), was elected to the APS in 1787, and published a biography of his uncle David Rittenhouse in 1813: Milton Rubincam, “A Memoir of the Life of William Barton, A.M. (1754–1817),” Pa. History, XII (1945), 179–93; Morris Papers, IV, 38n; VI, 46; Maeva Marcus and James R. Perry et al., eds., The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800 (8 vols., New York, 1985–2007), I, 188n.

2Thomas Barton: VI, 24n.

3Matthias Barton (1762–1809) eventually returned to Lancaster County, where he was admitted to the bar and served in both the Pa. legislature and the State Senate: Daniel K. Cassel, The Family Record of David Rittenhouse … (Norristown, Pa., 1896), pp. 19–20; Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania … ([Chicago], 1903), p. 187. For Cuming & Macarty see XXXVII, 53n.

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