Benjamin Franklin Papers

On the Death of His Son, 30 December 1736

On the Death of His Son2

Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 30, 1736.

Understanding ’tis a current Report, that my Son Francis, who died lately of the Small Pox, had it by Inoculation; and being desired to satisfy the Publick in that Particular; inasmuch as some People are, by that Report (join’d with others of the like kind, and perhaps equally groundless) deter’d from having that Operation perform’d on their Children, I do hereby sincerely declare, that he was not inoculated, but receiv’d the Distemper in the common Way of Infection: And I suppose the Report could only arise from its being my known Opinion, that Inoculation was a safe and beneficial Practice; and from my having said among my Acquaintance, that I intended to have my Child inoculated, as soon as he should have recovered sufficient Strength from a Flux with which he had been long afflicted.

B. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Francis Folger Franklin, born Oct. 20, 1732, died of smallpox Nov. 21, 1736. BF regretted to the end of his life, he wrote in his autobiography, that he had not had the boy inoculated. To Jane Mecom he wrote, Jan. 13, 1772, that accounts of his grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache brought “often fresh to my Mind the Idea of my Son Franky,... whom I have seldom since seen equal’d in every thing, and whom to this Day I cannot think of without a Sigh.” His parents placed on his gravestone the words: “The Delight of all that knew him.”

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