Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Cadwallader Colden, 5 April 1744

To Cadwallader Colden

ALS: New-York Historical Society; also transcript: Library of Congress

New York, April 5. 1744


Happening to be in this City about some particular Affairs, I have the Pleasure of receiving yours of the 28th past, here.4 And can now acquaint you, that the Society, as far as relates to Philadelphia, is actually formed,5 and has had several Meetings to mutual Satisfaction; assoon as I get home, I shall send you a short Account of what has been done and propos’d at those Meetings. The Members are6

Dr. Thomas Bond, as Physician
Mr. John Bartram as Botanist
Mr. Thomas Godfrey as Mathematician
Mr. Saml. Rhodes7 as Mechanician
Mr. Wm. Parsons as Geographer
Dr. Phineas Bond as General Nat. Philosopher
Mr. Thos. Hopkinson President
Mr. Wm. Coleman8 Treasurer
BF. Secretary

To whom the following Members have since been added, viz. Mr. Alexander of New York.9 Mr. Morris (Ch. Justice of the Jerseys.)1 Mr. Home Secretary of Ditto.2 Mr. Jno. Coxe of Trenton3 and Mr. Martyn of the same Place.4 Mr. Nickolls5 tells me of several other Gentlemen of this City that incline to encourage the Thing. And there are a Number of others in Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, and the New England Colonies, who we expect to join us, assoon as they are acquainted that the Society has begun to form itself. I am, Sir, with much Respect Your most humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To  The Honbl. Cadwallader Colden Esqr  at  Coldengham

Endorsed: B. Frankilin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Not found.

5See above, pp. 378–83.

6Biographical notes on Thomas and Phineas Bond, Bartram, Godfrey, Parsons, and Hopkinson appear elsewhere in this and the preceding volume. See indexes.

7Samuel Rhoads (1711–1784), carpenter and builder, president of the Carpenters’ Company, 1780–84, supervised the construction of BF’s house in 1764–65. He was a common councilor, alderman, and mayor of Philadelphia, 1774; member of the Assembly, 1761–63, 1770–74; and a delegate to the First Continental Congress. He was a director of the Library Company and an original manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751–81. Henry D. Biddle, “Colonial Mayors of Philadelphia. Samuel Rhoads, 1774,” PMHB, XIX (1895), 64–71.

8William Coleman (1704–1769), merchant, an original member of the Junto, who helped BF set up as a printer, 1728, was later a common councilor, clerk of the city court, justice of the peace, and, in 1758, a justice of the Supreme Court. He was a trustee of the Academy. Of him BF wrote in his autobiography that he “had the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met with.” Montgomery, Hist. Univ. Pa., pp. 107–8.

9James Alexander (1691–1756), lawyer, surveyor general and attorney general of New Jersey, member of the New York Council. DAB; see BF to Alexander, Aug. 15, 1745.

1Robert Hunter Morris (c. 1700–1764), chief justice of New Jersey, 1738–64; governor of Pennsylvania, 1754–56. DAB. His career is treated more fully hereafter.

2Archibald Home (d. 1744), born in Scotland; came to America before 1733; deputy secretary of New Jersey and secretary of the New Jersey Council, 1738; member of the Council, 1741; a poet of some ability, who translated Ovid, Horace, and French poets, composed elegies, and verses in Scots dialect. I N.J. Arch., XII, 154–6.

3John Coxe (d. 1753), lawyer, member of the New Jersey Council, 1746–50. Governor Belcher suspended him in a dispute over appointments and salaries. I N.J. Arch., VII, 6, 546–8.

4David Martin (d. 1751), first marshall of Trenton under the charter of 1745; sheriff of Hunterdon Co., 1747; first rector of the Academy of Philadelphia, 1750–51. Richard Peters described him as “a perfect good scholar, and a man of good temper.” Hubertis Cummings, Richard Peters (Phila., 1944), p. 146.

5Richard Nicholls (d. 1775), lawyer, postmaster of New York. N.-Y. Hist. Soc. Colls., 1899, pp. 295–6. He played a useful part by forwarding correspondence among BF, Colden, Bartram, and others.

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