Benjamin Franklin Papers
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John Jay: Account of Conversation with Franklin, September 1783

John Jay: Account of Conversation with Franklin7

AD: Columbia University Library

Sep. 1783

Dr. Franklin lived at Pha. in the Neighbourhood of Mr Boudinot the Father of Elias Boudinot the present Presidt. of Congress—the Father was a Silver Smith who had come from NYork to settle at Pha., a man much devoted to Whitfield, by whom his Son was baptized Elias after the Prophet of that Name— Dr. Franklin remembers Elias coming to his Father’s Door with half a Water Melon & a Spoon in his Hand—several of the neighboring Boys gathered round in hopes of sharing in the Melon— Elias observd their Intention, but told them as they came up, that those who asked shd recieve nothing, & went on eating his Melon— The others imagining he meant to Share with them, & fearing to ask lest they shd. as he threatned be refused, silently waited his Motions—he went on however eating his Melon, & finished it— He was 8 or nine Yrs. old— He had a Sister who was a sensible Girl—she wrote Verses & had Wit— Mr. Stockton of Printon married her—& took Elias into his Office & taught him Law, which he practiced at Eliz. Town until the War, with the Reputation of Integrity & fairness—8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7This is the second of four casual conversations with BF that Jay recorded in a small quire. The first took place on July 19, about six weeks after the Jay family moved into the Hôtel Valentinois: XL, 342–6. The final two conversations took place the following March and will be published in our next volume. All entries are in Jay Papers, III, 436–42.

8Annis Boudinot Stockton (1736–1801) was a renowned poet and hostess in Princeton. She married Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, in the winter of 1757–58. Four years later, his sister Hannah wed Elias Boudinot: Carla Mulford, ed., Only for the Eye of a Friend: the Poems of Annis Boudinot Stockton (Charlottesville, 1995), pp. 8–9, 12, 15, 19, 26–8, 187n.

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