Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 8 March 1782

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes March 8. 1782.

Dear & hond sir.

The present serves to introduce to your Acquaintance Doctor Mason Weems and his Companion Mr Manifold; these Gentlemen mean both to go to Britain, the former to pursue the study of his Profession in Edinburgh, and the latter for some affairs which will make his stay but short. I request you to honour these Gentlemen with your kind Notice, and to favour them with the necessary Passports,6 which will oblige Dear & hond sir

Your dutifull & Affectionate Kinsman

Jona Williams J

Notation: J. Williams— March 8 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6According to the List of Passes, published under Jan. 5, Manifold received a passport on June 5 but Mason Locke Weems (ANB, DAB) did not. Weems seems not to have gone to Passy; on July 9, 1784, writting to BF from London, he introduces himself as though for the first time (APS). Just what Weems did in Europe until the end of the war is not clear. He is rumored to have studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but the university has no record of his matriculation: Emily Ellsworth Ford Skeel, ed., Mason Locke Weems: His Works and Ways … (3 vols., New York, 1929), III, 382–3. In 1784 Weems was ordained by the archbishop of Canterbury. He then returned to his native Maryland and served as a priest until 1792, when he began selling books and writing. His biography of George Washington is famous for promoting the cherry-tree myth. His highly fictionalized Life of Benjamin Franklin (Hagerstown, Pa., 1818) claimed, with justification, to contain anecdotes “never before published.”

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