Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Logan, 3 December 1747

From James Logan

Reprinted from Sparks, Works, VII, 24–7.

3 December, 1747

My Friend B. Franklin,

I have expected to see thee here8 for several weeks, according to my son’s information, with Euclid’s title-page printed, and my Mattaire’s Lives of the Stephenses;9 but it is probable thy thoughts of thy new excellent project1 have in some measure diverted thee, to which I most heartily wish all possible success; of which, notwithstanding, I have some doubts, partly for want of arms for some of the common people, who may be willing to enlist, and for want of will in many others, as well of the Dutch2 as of our people, and both these for want of a militia act to compel them. Ever since I have had the power of thinking, I have clearly seen that government without arms is an inconsistency. Our Friends spare no pains to get and accumulate estates, and are yet against defending them, though these very estates are in a great measure the sole cause of their being invaded, as I showed to our Yearly Meeting, last September was six years, in a paper thou then printed.3 But I request to be informed, as soon as thou hast any leisure, what measures are proposed to furnish small arms, powder, and ball to those in the country; and particularly what measures are taken to defend our river, especially at the Red Bank, on the Jersey side, and on our own,4 where there ought not to be less than forty guns, from six to twelve pounders. What gunners are to be depended on?

Thy project of a lottery to clear £3,000 is excellent, and I hope it will be speedily filled; nor shall I be wanting. But thou wilt answer all these questions and much more, if thou wilt visit me here, as on First day, to dine with me, and thou wilt exceedingly oblige thy very loving friend,

James Logan

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Logan’s house, Stenton.

9Logan’s copy of Euclid’s Elements was the handsome edition printed at Paris in 1516 by the celebrated typographer Henri Estienne; but it lacked a title page. Logan asked BF to print a substitute, lending him for the purpose his copy of Michael Maittaire’s Stephanorum Historia (London, 1709), which contained (pt. 2, p. 6) a transcription of the original title page of the Euclid. After some delay (see below, p. 276) BF did the job, and the volume (now in Lib. Co. Phila.) contains two printed title pages, at the foot of the first of which Logan has written, “This was printed from the original itself as it was given by the famous P. Mattaire in the Lives of the Estiennes.” Lib. Co. Phila., Annual Report, 1957, pp. 9–10.

1The Association.

2The Germans, of course.

3Logan sent a letter to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, Sept. 22, 1741, strongly stating the case for defensive military measures and proposing that those conscientiously unable to support such measures should refuse to run for, or serve in, the Assembly. When the Quakers would not lay the letter before the general meeting, Logan had BF print 30 copies, under the title To Robert Jordan, and others the Friends of the Yearly Meeting for Business, now conven’d in Philadelphia. This letter is reprinted in PMHB, VI (1882), 402–11.

4The Association battery was constructed on the Pennsylvania side, at Wicaco, just outside Philadelphia. Red Bank, farther down, was opposite the mouth of the Schuylkill, at a bend in the Delaware, where Hog, Mud, and League Islands make the river narrow for large vessels. Its importance was recognized during the Revolution, when Fort Mercer was erected there to guard the approaches to Philadelphia.

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