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Reprinted from The Columbian Magazine , I (December, 1786), 159–61; incomplete copy: American Philosophical Society Franklin and chess have long been associated in the popular mind largely because of this bagatelle, which was the most widely reprinted product of his Passy press. Made public for the first time in 1786, it would be reprinted at least a dozen times by the end of the century, and...
Draft: American Philosophical Society I have perus’d the Letters and Papers you put into my Hands, and shall, as you desire, say what occurs to me on the considering them. I do not know Mr. Murdoch personally, but have heard that he is a Person of Credit and some Note in that Country, and esteemed by the People there. I imagine that little is to be expected from a Suit of Law, to be carried on...
Draft: American Philosophical Society Obviously written in England, this document cannot otherwise be certainly dated. Apparently Franklin contemplated having an English architect prepare plans for a “model home” in Philadelphia suitable for “Tradesmen and People of moderate Circumstances.” His description of the land on which it was to be built most nearly fits the lot on the north side of...
4Memorandum Book, 1757–1776 (Franklin Papers)
MS account book: American Philosophical Society [April 3, 1757] Before leaving for England Franklin provided his wife with a long, narrow account book in which she was to record her expenditures during his absence. She made the first entry on April 3, even before he had gone. But later, like many wives—and husbands too—she was far from meticulous in recording everything she spent. There are...
ALS (draft): Blumhaven Library (1957) I have perus’d the Parts you put into my Hands of the new Work on Commerce, &c. and must own myself extreamly pleas’d with it. It is a most valuable Collection of Facts which I should think every one in Britain, Ireland and the Colonies who has any thing to do with Publick Affairs, or is desirous of understanding that very interesting Subject, would gladly...
ALS : Frank Glenn, Kansas City, Missouri (1955) I used to put two Ounces of Bark finely powdered into a Bottle of Wine, and let it stand 24 Hours, in which time it will have given to the Wine a sufficient Quantity of its Virtue, and the Powder itself will be pretty well subsided. When I had drank two or three Glasses out of the Bottle, I used to fill it up with fresh Wine, because the Bark...
Printed forms (two) with MS insertions in blanks: Theodore Sheldon, Chicago (1954) The commission given by Franklin and William Hunter to Thomas Vernon as deputy postmaster at Newport, R.I., Dec. 24, 1754, is printed above, V , 451–2. With the text of that earliest known post-office commission signed by Franklin as deputy postmaster general appears a note listing five similar commissions known...
MS account books: American Philosophical Society December 10, 1764 As Franklin had done when he went to England in 1757, he began a new record of his financial transactions when he started his second mission in 1764. Probably the new record consisted at first of a series of rather informal entries such as those in his “Account of Expences,” 1757–1762, described above, VII , 164–5, and cited...
AD : American Philosophical Society Among Franklin’s papers are two sheets on which he entered notes about three acts of Parliament. One sheet, written on both sides, is badly torn at the top and down one edge. The other, of which he used only one side and which is in better condition, is a continuation of the first. The acts in which he was interested had granted to areas not previously...
Copy: Library of Congress; copy: American Philosophical Society It has been demonstrated that Franklin did not, as William Temple Franklin asserted and subsequent editors believed, write this dialogue shortly after arriving in France in 1776, but shortly before leaving England in 1775. If he began it considerably earlier, as seems likely, it must have been in a quite different vein; for he...
AD: British Museum The presence of this fragment among the papers of Caleb Whitefoord in the British Museum indicates that it was part of a letter to the Public Advertiser that was never published. Henry Woodfall, the printer, frequently sent such material for Whitefoord’s inspection; and in this case the manuscript seems to have gone no further. When it was written, why it was suppressed, and...
AD : American Philosophical Society These two scraps of Franklin’s ongoing argument for the colonies appear to be directed at the British public, although no trace of either one has been found in the newspapers of the period. The first fragment is divided into two parts by a gap in the manuscript; the initial paragraph might have been written at any time, but the second implies that...
AD : Library of Congress The background of this request has already been discussed in connection with the document to which it was attached, Franklin’s indictment of Lord Hillsborough in 1772 for preventing colonial petitions from reaching the throne. At some later point he decided, for reasons given here, to publish the indictment redirected at Lord Dartmouth, and then reversed his decision;...
AD (draft): Library of Congress These notes are impossible to date. At the head of the sheet a line in another hand has been crossed out; it seems to read “Mde. D’Ardonviller,” who means nothing to us. Franklin’s reference in his notation to the “old” intention suggests that he was writing long after the comment that he cites by the Attorney General; but the reference at least determines the...
AL (draft): American Philosophical Society Unsolved problems in editing, as in other areas of historical research, are frustrating out of all proportion to their significance; and this short draft is a case in point. Why Franklin wrote it is clear enough: to enable a French teacher, whose English was inadequate for the purpose, to enlist influential help in obtaining redress from the Warden of...
AD : American Philosophical Society These two notes for borrowers from the Library Company demarcated the sheep from the goats. The sheep, who were the members, promised to pay for books not returned on time and in good condition; the goats put down a refundable deposit. The requirement of a promissory note from a member went back at least to 1732, and a note to accompany a nonmember’s deposit...
MS : Library of Congress This document, of unknown provenance and in an unknown hand, is among the papers of L. C. Henley-Smith. The only evidence of its authenticity is internal, but that evidence is strong. The format shows a verbal playfulness at which Franklin was adept, and the points attributed to him were ones that he repeatedly raised during his negotiations in London. We are strongly...
AD (incomplete draft): American Philosophical Society The nature of this fragment is clear enough: it is to introduce a resolution, undoubtedly by Congress, authorizing some action against the crown. But what action is impossible to say. The preamble was not adopted and hence not recorded in the Journals , and its language is too general to identify the measure it was intended to justify. One...
Printed in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society . . ., II (1786), 325. On his voyage to America Franklin was wondering about the sea around him. Soon after setting down his speculation on the speed of ships (the preceding document) he, or perhaps his grandson under his direction, began to record the temperature of the water. For the first four days it varied little, and perhaps...
AD : American Philosophical Society The first Continental Congress had sent to London, along with its petition to the King and address to the British people, a resolution of thanks to all those in Britain who had attempted to defend the American cause. The second Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition and another address, but no resolution of thanks to any of its British friends except the...
Unfinished draft: Library of Congress During his voyage to Philadelphia Franklin made the observations on the sea that appear above under April 10. On May 16 he promised in a letter to Priestley to communicate to him “a valuable philosophical discovery” that he had made on the voyage; years later William Temple Franklin conjectured, in a note on that letter, that the discovery was related to...
ALS : Dartmouth College Library What as far as we know was the first letter Franklin wrote after landing was not to his son or sister or some close friend, as might be expected, but to an Englishman who three months earlier seems to have been no more than a casual acquaintance. In late February, when Hartley asked for information, Franklin furnished it in a formal, third-person note, and a few...
ALS : Mrs. Arthur Loeb, Philadelphia (1955) This short letter is tantalizingly uninformative. It touches on the two personal relationships that were in crisis when Franklin returned to America, with his son and with his oldest political ally; but it throws little light on either. Its contents make clear that it was in answer to a letter now missing, in which Galloway congratulated Franklin on...
ALS : Harvard University Library I arrived here on Friday Evening, and the next morning was unanimously chosen by the General Assembly a Delegate for the ensuing Congress, which is to meet on Wednesday. You will have heard before this reaches you of the Commencement of a Civil War; the End of it perhaps neither myself, nor you, who are much younger, may live to see. I find here all Ranks of...
ALS : Central Library, Sheffield The background of this letter was conversations between the two men during Franklin’s last months in London. Burke’s record of their final meeting, even though not committed to paper until years later, is revealing enough to be worth extensive quotation. “As far as a man, so locked up as Dr. Franklin, could be expected to communicate his ideas, I believe he...
ALS : Yale University Library I arrived here well the 5th. after a pleasant Passage of 6 Weeks. I met with a most cordial Reception, I should say from all Parties, but that all Parties are now extinguish’d here. Britain has found means to unite us. I had not been here a Day before I was unanimously elected by our Assembly a Delegate to the Congress, which met the 10th and is now sitting. All...
ALS : Historical Society of Pennsylvania; draft: American Philosophical Society I have just now been urged to apply to you in behalf of a Stranger who is suppos’d to have spoken some disrespectful Words of you, and who is apprehensive of the Resentment of your Company, as he is told they are exceedingly exasperated against him. He declares that the Words ascrib’d to him, are much...
Printed in Benjamin Vaughan, ed., Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces . . . Written by Benj. Franklin . . . (London, 1779), pp. 550–1. You will have heard before this reaches you, of a march stolen by the regulars into the country by night, and of their expedition back again. They retreated 20 miles in [6] hours. The Governor had called the Assembly to propose Lord North’s...
Reprinted from William Darlington, Memorials of John Bartram and Humphry Marshall . . . (Philadelphia, 1849), p. 521. I received your favour of the 13th inst. I think, with you, that the non-importation and non-exportation, well adhered to, will end the controversy in our favour. But, as Britain has begun to use force, it seems absolutely necessary that we should be prepared to repel force by...
ALS : Marietta College Library; copy: Harvard University Library I have just now heard by Mr. Adams, that you are come out of Boston, and are at Warwick in Rhodeisland Government: I suppose it must be at good Mr. and Mrs. Green’s, to whom present my affectionate Respects. I write this Line just to let you know I am return’d well from England; that I found my Family well; but have not found the...
Articles of confederation and perpetual Union proposed by the delegates of the several colonies of New Hampshire &c. in General Congress met at Philadelphia May. 10. 1775. The Art. I. name of this confederacy shall henceforth be ‘The united < colonies > states of North America.’ The Art. II. said united colonies hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other binding on...
AD : Historical Society of Pennsylvania The outbreak of hostilities created political problems in Pennsylvania that continued to vex the province for a year or more. Compulsory military service was unknown, and the inauguration of voluntary service on a larger scale than ever before raised the acute question of what to do about those who would not serve. Franklin had confronted that question...
ALS : Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania I am much oblig’d by your kind Congratulations on my Return; and I rejoice to hear that the Brethren are well and prosper. I am persuaded that the Congress will give no Encouragement to any to molest your People on Account of their Religious Principles; and tho’ much is not in my Power, I shall on every Occasion exert my self to discountenance...
Extract: Papers of the Earl of Dartmouth deposited in the Staffordshire County Record Office I have just received your Favor of April 5. giving me an Account of the Progress of my Suit. I called at your House just before I came away to settle Matters with You, and it was no small Disappointment to me that I did not meet with You. I did then propose returning in October, but I find Things here...
ALS : American Philosophical Society I wonder’d it was so long before I heard from you. The Packet it seems was brought down to Philadelphia, and carry’d back to Burlington before it came hither. I am glad to learn by your Letters that you are happy in your new Situation, and that tho’ you ride out sometimes, you do not neglect your Studies. You are now in that time of Life which is the...
Copy: American Philosophical Society I received your kind congratulations with infinite pleasure, as I learn by them that you and yours are well. I long much to see once more my native Country, and my friends there, and none more than my dear Caty and her family. Mr. Green I hope will allow an old man of 70 to say he loves his wife, it is an innocent affection. I have great Obligations to him...
ALS : American Philosophical Society I wrote to you some time since, having heard from one of the Delegates that you were at Warwick, and I supposed it must be with that good Family, so I directed my Letter to you there; I hope you receiv’d it. I have since received your kind Letter of May 14. with one from dear Mrs. Green. I sympathise most sincerely with you and the People of my native Town...
Printed in The Public Advertiser , July 18, 1777. This document has often been reprinted but, for good reason, never explained. When it appeared in the Public Advertiser in 1777, it was introduced with what purported to be an account of its origin: “The following Paper was drawn up in a Committee of Congress, June 25, 1775, but does not appear in their Minutes, a severe Act of Parliament which...
ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society Pay the Ballance of my Account to John Sargent Esqr. whose Receipt shall be your Discharge. I am, Gentlemen Your old Friend and humble Servant Why BF wrote as of London the reader must guess. No record of this transaction appears in his Jour. or Ledger, and all we know about it is contained in the note itself and in the following document. The...
ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society I have written to Messrs. Browns and Collinson to pay the Ballance of my Acct to you; and I beg you to take the Trouble of receiving and keeping it for me, or my Children. It may possibly soon be all I shall have left: as my American Property consists chiefly of Houses in our Seaport Towns, which your Ministry have begun to burn, and I suppose are...
AD : Historical Society of Pennsylvania Trade had bred controversy in the debates the previous autumn over the Continental Association, and controversy grew with the outbreak of war. The nonexportation agreement was to go into effect on September 19, 1775. After that date no commodities whatsoever, except rice destined for re-export, might clear for Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies....
AD (draft): American Philosophical Society This resolution, as Paul Smith has pointed out, is impossible to date but may reasonably, if conjecturally, be ascribed to July, 1775. The preamble, cramped at the top of the page, seems to have been drafted after the resolution itself. The unexplained “as aforesaid” in both, and the note at the end, suggest that the draft was to be inserted in a...
ALS : Library of Congress; copy: Pierpont Morgan Library This famous letter was unquestionably not sent. The positive evidence is that the original remained with Franklin’s papers. The negative evidence is that Strahan later gave no sign that he had received such a blast: when he responded on September 6 to a letter, now lost, from Franklin two days after this one, and when he wrote again on...
Extract printed in Benjamin Vaughan, ed., Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces . . . Written by Benj. Franklin . . . (London, 1779), pp. 552–4. The Congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people, that propositions of attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty...
ALS : Yale University Library I received with great Pleasure my dear Friends very kind Letter of April 19, as it informed me of his Welfare, and that of the amiable Family in Jermyn Street. I am much obliged by the Information of what pass’d in Parliament after my departure; in return I will endeavor to give you a short Sketch of the State of Affairs here. I found at my arrival all America...
ALS : Yale University Library I thank you for your kind Letter of April 11th. It grieves me that the present Situation of publick Affairs, makes it not eligible for you to come hither with your Family, because I am sure you would otherwise like this Country, and might provide better here for your Children, at the same time that I should be made more happy by your Neighbourhood and Company. I...
AD : National Archives; draft: American Philosophical Society News of the second Restraining Act infuriated and alarmed Congress. On July 12, 1775, it appointed a committee, of which Franklin was a member, to formulate a program for protecting the colonies’ trade. Three days later, on Franklin’s motion, the nonexportation agreement was modified to permit paying in produce for imported war...
ADS : Historical Society of Pennsylvania The promoters of the Walpole Company in London had decided not to wait for confirmation of their grant before putting at least part of it on the market. They had obtained two legal opinions that their title to that part, the lands that the Indians had ceded at Fort Stanwix to the “suffering traders” was a valid one. Franklin’s involvement in their...
ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society All Trade and Business, Building, Improving, &c. being at a Stand here, and nothing thought of but Arms, I find no Convenience at present of putting out your Money in this Country, and therefore have concluded not to draw it over, but return it into your Hands; and accordingly inclose an Order for it on Messrs. John & Robert Barclay, Cheapside, with...
AD : National Archives These articles and Franklin’s “Short Hints” for uniting the northern colonies in 1754 are the two occasions when he formulated his ideas of what an intercolonial constitution should be. Both formulations were developed in ways that he could not have anticipated. He and others reworked the “Hints” into the Albany Plan. He never reworked the present articles, and they were...