Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to George Whitefield, 2 July 1756

To George Whitefield

ALS: The John Rylands Library, Manchester

New York, July 2. 1756

Dear Sir

I received your Favour of the 24th. of February9 with great Pleasure, as it inform’d me of your Welfare, and express’d your continu’d Regard for me. I thank you for the Pamphlet you enclos’d to me. As we had just observ’d a Provincial Fast on the same Occasion, I thought it very seasonable to be publish’d in Pensilvania, and accordingly reprinted it immediately.1

You mention your frequent Wish that you were a Chaplain to an American Army. I sometimes wish, that you and I were jointly employ’d by the Crown to settle a Colony on the Ohio.2 I imagine we could do it effectually, and without putting the Nation to much Expence. But I fear we shall never be call’d upon for such a Service. What a glorious Thing it would be, to settle in that fine Country a large Strong Body of Religious and Industrious People! What a Security to the other Colonies; and Advantage to Britain, by Increasing her People, Territory, Strength and Commerce. Might it not greatly facilitate the Introduction of pure Religion among the Heathen, if we could, by such a Colony, show them a better Sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian Traders, the most vicious and abandoned Wretches of our Nation?3 Life, like a dramatic Piece, should not only be conducted with Regularity, but methinks it should finish handsomely. Being now in the last Act, I begin to cast about for something fit to end with. Or if mine be more properly compar’d to an Epigram, as some of its few Lines are but barely tolerable, I am very desirous of concluding with a bright Point. In such an Enterprize I could spend the Remainder of Life with Pleasure; and I firmly believe God would bless us with Success, if we undertook it with a sincere Regard to his Honour, the Service of our gracious King, and (which is the same thing) the Publick Good.

I thank you cordially for your generous Benefaction to the German Schools.4 They go on pretty well, and will do better, when Mr. Smith, who has at present the principal Care of them, shall learn to mind Party-Writing and Party Politicks less and his proper Business more; which I hope time will bring about.5

I thank you for your good Wishes and Prayers, and am, with the greatest Esteem and Affection, Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

My best Respects to Mrs. Whitefield.

Revd. Mr. Whitefield.

Addressed in another hand: Mr. Williams / No. 10. Stationers Court / Ludgate Hill / London.6

Endorsed: Frankland answerd / B Franklyn / Frankolyn

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found.

1George Whitefield, A Short Address to Persons of all Denominations, Occasioned by the Alarm of an Intended Invasion (3d edit., London), reprinted by Franklin and Hall, Phila., 1756, advertised in Pa. Gaz., May 27, 1756, “to be published tomorrow.” The “Provincial Fast” had been proclaimed on May 4, 1756, to be observed on May 21. I Pa. Arch., II, 649–51. The pamphlet called for loyalty to the British nation, and a willingness to shed blood to resist the Popish French and their savage Indian allies.

2See above, V, 456–63, for BF’s earlier plans to found a western colony.

3Passage of a bill to regulate and eliminate the worst abuses in the Indian trade had been a favorite project of the Pa. Assembly for nearly a year. See above, pp. 254, 451.

4See above, V, 203–18.

5See above, pp. 420–2 n, 457, for William Smith’s partisan writings. A favorable mention of Smith’s pamphlet, A Brief View, in Whitefield’s Address mentioned above, and the agreement of the two clergymen about fighting France, make it doubtful that Whitefield shared BF’s contempt for Smith’s role in Pennsylvania’s political disputes, though Whitefield could not have known when he wrote BF that Smith’s political activities were to be so extensive.

6BF may have sent this letter to one of his London correspondents to forward to the peripatetic evangelist.

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