Benjamin Franklin Papers

Directors of Library Company to John Penn, 8 August 1738

Directors of Library Company to John Penn7

MS Minute Book: Library Company of Philadelphia

Philadelphia August 8th. 1738.

Honourable Sir,

The Library Company of Philadelphia beg leave to return their most hearty Thanks for your noble Benefaction of an Air Pump with its costly and curious Apparatus.

Useful and necessary as that excellent Invention must be to a Society whose View is the Improvement of Knowledge, we might have been long without this Advantage if your judicious Generosity had not come in to our Assistance.

It gives us great Pleasure that the Proprietary Family so many other Ways endeared to us, are so early and in so iminent a Manner the particular Benefactors of our Society; the honorable your Brother having not long since bestowed on us a valuable and well-situated Lot of Ground for the Conveniency of a Library Room and Garden.

Permit us to accompany our thankful Acknowlegements of these Favours, with our sincere Assurances of doing all that lies in our Power to merit the Continuance of your Regards.

William Allen, Thos. Hopkinson,
Alexr. Graydon, Wm. Plumstead,
Thos. Cadwalader, Wm. Coleman,
B. Franklin, Hugh Roberts,
Richard Peters, Philip Syng Jnr.
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Following their announcement, May 1, that Thomas Penn had presented the Library Company “a large and commodious Lot of Ground” for a building, and that John Penn had just sent it “a valuable Present... consisting of an Air Pump, and other curious Instruments of great Use in the Study of Natural Knowledge” (Pa. Gaz., May 4, 1738; see below, p. 210), the Directors, May 8, appointed BF, William Coleman, and Richard Peters to draft an address of thanks. This was presented at the meeting, August 14, approved, and ordered spread on the minutes.

The lot, located on the south side of Chestnut street between Eighth and Ninth, was surveyed to William Allen, James Hamilton, William Plumsted, and BF, as trustees for the Library Company, on January 12, 1738; but it was never used for the purpose. Warrants and Surveys of the Province of Pennsylvania, VII, 182, Dept. of Records, Phila. The air pump was brought over by one Samuel Jenkins, who instructed the Directors in its use. Austin K. Gray, Benjamin Franklin’s Library (N.Y., 1937), p. 17. Among the Franklin Papers in Lib. Cong. are MS “Directions for the Air Pump,” which may be Jenkins’ instructions for John Penn’s gift. The pump does not survive.

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