Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from James Lovell, 3 October 1781

From James Lovell

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Octr. 3d. 1781.

Honorable Sir

The Bearer Mr. Gibbs7 full of Respect for your Character has not only the very natural Ambition of being introduced to your venerable Person but cherishes the Hope of obtaining your sage Counsel and your Patronage upon his Arrival in France with an Intention to establish himself there at least for some years. Your Philanthropy alone secures that Patronage to him provided his Character puts him upon the Level of a common Claim; But, Sir, I introduce him to you as a young Man of uncommon Sobriety, and yet such as one would naturally expect, if Virtue was hereditable, in a Son of Judge Gibbs, and the Grandson of that good Secretary Willard known by you formerly in Boston.8 You know Sir the Nobility of New England men non Atavis editi Regibus, sed piis nati parentibus.9 This young Gentleman can in that Way make the first Boasts.

I am with much Respect Sir Your most humble Servant

James Lovell

Honble. Doctor Franklin

Addressed: Honorable / Doctor Franklin / minister plenipotentiary / &c / France / favd by Mr. Gibbs

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Probably either William Gibbs (1757–1829) or Josiah Willard Gibbs (1752–1849), sons of Justice Henry Gibbs of the Essex County Court of Common Pleas (1709–1759) and Katherine Willard Gibbs (d. 1769) and business partners: J. Willard Gibbs, ed., Memoir of the Gibbs Family of Warwickshire, England, and United States of America (Philadelphia, 1879), pp. 14–15, 22–3. Jared Ingersoll wrote an Oct. 3 letter of introduction to WTF for him (APS). He was in Nantes by Nov. 22: JW to BF of that date (APS.)

8Joseph Willard (1681–1756), secretary of the colony of Massachusetts from 1717 to 1745: Gibbs, Memoir, p. 40; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, IV, 425–32.

9“Not born of royal lineage, but sprung from good and honest stock,” a quotation from Horace’s Odes: Smith, Letters, XVIII, 112n.

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