Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to James Bowdoin, 25 October 1750

To James Bowdoin1

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

Philada. Oct. 25. 1750


Enclos’d with this I send you all my Electrical Papers fairly transcrib’d, and I have as you desir’d examin’d the Copy and find it correct.2 I shall be glad to have your Observations on them; and if in any Part I have not made my self well understood, I will on Notice endeavour to explain the obscure Passages by Letter. My Compliments to Mr. Cooper3 and the other Gentlemen who were with you here: I hope you all got safe home. I am, Sir, Your most humble Servant

B Franklin

Endorsed: Philadl. October 25. 1750 Benjamin Franklin’s Letter

1James Bowdoin (1726–1790), merchant, statesman, amateur of science; A.B., Harvard, 1745; inherited from his father part of one of the largest fortunes in New England; served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1753–56, and was a member of the Council, 1757–74, except one year, when Governor Bernard negatived his selection. In close touch with Revolutionary leaders like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and James Otis, he succeeded in winning the Council to the popular view, thus uniting the General Court on political measures. Declining appointment to the Continental Congress because of ill health, he accepted a post on the Massachusetts Executive Council, 1775–77. He was president of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, 1780, governor of the state, 1785–87, when Shays’ Rebellion broke out, and a member of the Massachusetts convention to ratify the Federal Constitution, 1788. His daughter married John Temple, who was involved in the Hutchinson Letters affair. He contributed papers on scientific subjects to the Transactions of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which he was a founder and first president, 1780. He had honorary degrees from Harvard, 1783, and Edinburgh, 1785, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1788. DAB; Robert C. Winthrop, Washington, Bowdoin, and Franklin, as Portrayed in Occasional Addresses (Boston, 1876), pp. 40–84.

2See above, III, 115–18.

3Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), minister of Brattle Square Church, Boston, 1743–83. His keen interest and participation in politics are reflected in his correspondence with BF after 1771 and his involvement in the Hutchinson Letters affair. He was the first vice-president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1780. BF used his influence to get Cooper an honorary divinity degree from Edinburgh, 1767. DAB. Ezra Stiles recorded a “ludicrous description” of the Boston ministers’ attitudes toward liberty, about 1772, which included a quatrain on Cooper:

In Brattle street we seldom meet

With silver-tongued Sam,

Who smoothly glides between both sides,

And so escapes a Jam!

Franklin B. Dexter, ed., The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles (N.Y., 1901), I, 492.

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