Benjamin Franklin Papers

Agreement of Directors of Library Company, 22 May 1738

Agreement of Directors of Library Company

ADS: Massachusetts Historical Society

[May 22, 1738]

We the Subscribers, Directors of the Library Company for the current Year, do agree to attend all our appointed Meetings, at ½ an Hour past Eight in the Evening until the first Meeting in August inclusive, And from that Time ’till November at Eight in the Evening And from that Time ’till May ensuing at Seven in the Evening, And that for every Failure we will each of us pay to the rest One Shilling. Witness our Hands hereto the Twenty second Day of May 1738.2

B Franklin Wm. Coleman
T. Cadwalader Hugh Roberts
Thos. Hopkinson 1738 Will: Allen
Alex: Graydon Richard Peters
May 22nd. Absent PS. WPl.3
June 12th. Absent WA. RP. TC.
July 10th. Absent TC. AG. HR. WA. WP.
Augst. 14. Absent WA. RP. HR. and PS.
Septr. 11. Absent WA. RP. HR. AG. WP. WC. and tardy BF.
Octobr. 9. Absent WA. WC. WP. HR.
Novr. 13. Absent WA. HR. RP. AG. PS. and WC. the last being gone for England.
Decr. 11. Absent WA. and RP.
Janry. 8. Absent WA. WP. AG. and TH.
Febry. 12. Absent WA. WP. AG. and PS.
March 12. Absent WA. RP. BF. HR, and tardy SR.
April 9. Absent WA. RP. HR. and AG.
May 7th. Absent WA. RP.
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2This agreement, differing somewhat from the form used earlier (see above, I, 321), had two worthy purposes: to improve attendance and to increase the Library’s income. Apparently it was made annually, for another similar MS, dated May 11, 1741, survives (in Haverford Coll. Lib.) but it will not be printed in this work. Another device was adopted later: absentees were required to send a proxy in the shape of “two bottles of good wine.” Thereafter, so one historian of the Library Company relates, “the Directors attended in force with great regularity ... in the hope that the other Directors would be represented by their proxies.” Austin K. Gray, Benjamin Franklin’s Library (N.Y., 1937), pp. 14–15.

3The initials in this list are those of Philip Syng, William Plumsted, William Allen, Richard Peters, Thomas Cadwalader, Alexander Graydon, Hugh Roberts, William Parsons, William Coleman, BF, and Samuel Rhoads, who was elected a director, Dec. 11, 1738, to replace William Coleman. Lib. Co. Phila., Minutes.

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