Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Parsons, 19 June 1756

From William Parsons

ALS: Huntington Library; draft: American Philosophical Society

Easton June the 19th. 1756

Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 10th. Instant3 came safe to Hand, but I was not at Home when it came here; being over the Mountains visiting some of the Forts and Companies there. And since my Return have been very busily employed in making out the Returns of the several Companies of the first Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment, by Order of his Honour the Governor, and therefore could not possibly answer your Letter sooner. And I think I cant do it so well any other way as by sending you a Copy of the Notes and Observations &c. which I sent to the Governor with the Returns. By which you will perceive that I had not done with the Returns ’till yesterday: it was near Night when I got done.4

Perhaps it may, by some, be thought an unnecessary Expence to send a Person from time to time to view the several Forts and Companies in the Pay of the Province. But I do assure you it is my real Opinion, from what I have seen, that the Province would save by it; and probably the Companies would be kept better to their Duty. And I persuade my self when you have read over the Notes you will not think I have been idle. I believe it would have been of use if I had spent more time in that Service, but this being the first time I could not judge so well of what was best as I imagine I can now.5

Some People have grac’d the Fort at Allemengel with your Name, and I dont blame them for it; but I am sure it will not grace your Name, till it is put in a much better Condition than it is at present.6 I am highly obliged to you for your very friendly manner of writing to me, and think with you that it is very long since I received a Line from you. I cant say that I have not heard of you because I omitted no Opportunity of enquiring after you. I congratulate you upon your Virginia Promotion7 and am Dear Sir Your most humble Servant

Wm: Parsons

B. Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3See above, p. 453.

4Parsons had inspected the forts and garrisons between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, May 28–June 13, 1756, and had sent his journal of the trip to Governor Morris, June 18, 1756. Long extracts from it are in Hunter, Forts, pp. 222–342 passim. The copy of the journal in the Loudoun Papers, Huntington Library, may be the one sent to BF, or Morris may have sent the original or a copy to Loudoun on July 5, 1756, along with other information on “the Military state of this … Province.” I Pa. Arch., II, 691–2.

5At this point Parsons’ draft contains the crossed-out sentence: “Often wit may be of Use in Matters that do not require very quick and sudden Determinations: but generally speaking ’tis but a poor kind of Wit.”

6Two crossed-out sentences follow in the draft: “I think at present it suits Trexler’s Name better than yours. I believe Lieut. Engel if he had [illegible] would do something towards mending it.” Among other deficiencies, according to Parsons’ report, Fort Franklin’s palisades “in places stand so far from one another, that [it] is as safe for an Enemy to fire into, as it is for the Garrison to fire out of,” and one officer “had been obliged to carry away several Loads of Horse Dung and Litter” and to delouse the men. Hunter, Forts, pp. 260–1. See above, pp. 308, 343–7, for BF’s part in building the forts Parsons inspected and for the officers serving in Northampton Co.

7Parsons could have read in the newspapers about BF’s honorary degree from the College of William and Mary (above, p. 430).

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