Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Aaron Burr, 20 March 1753

From Aaron Burr8

Letterbook copy: Andover-Newton Theological Seminary9

Mr. Franklin.

Mch. 20. 53.


Your Febry. 28.1 with the enclos’d Letters was very acceptable. I am sorry we [are] not provid’d with Instruments to observe the approaching Transit of Mercury. But have long since been determined to be ready for Venus 1769. By Mr. Evans’s2 Advice I wrote to one Mr. Adams’s3 in London sending a Catalogue of Instruments for a philosophical Apparatus, desiring to know his Price, designing to purchase as far as the small stock we have raised for that Purpose will go, but can gett no Answer from him.

This Spring I propose to send for such as are most needed and add as we are able.

I should esteem it a Favour you communicated the Observations on Mercury. If the Weather admits of the making any.4

I add but my hearty Wishes that the general Design of promoting usefull Knowledge in the World may be still attended with desired Success and am with great Respect your most humble Servant.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Aaron Burr (1716–1757), Presbyterian clergyman, president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) from 1748 to his death. In 1753 the college was conducted at the parsonage of the First Church of Newark, which Burr also served as minister. He was renowned for his learning and, though he had no special training in astronomy, tutored students in that field. A close friend of Gov. Jonathan Belcher, he was the son-in-law of Jonathan Edwards, who briefly succeeded him in the college presidency. His son of the same name was later vice-president of the United States. DAB; Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Princeton 1746–1896 (Princeton, 1946), pp. 28–9, 93.

9On permanent deposit in Yale Univ. Lib. This document in Burr’s letterbook was located too late for inclusion in its chronological place at p. 457, above.

1Not found, but see above, p. 446, for a letter of that date on the same subject to James Bowdoin, and above, pp. 415–22, for the papers on the transit of Mercury.

2Lewis Evans (see above, III, 48 n) had given a series of lectures on natural philosophy at the College of New Jersey, September 1751. John Maclean, History of the College of New Jersey (Phila., 1877), I, 141–2.

3George Adams, London instrument maker. See above, p. 3 n.

4For William Shervington’s observation of the transit from Antigua, see above, pp. 508–10.

Index Entries