Philadelphia Post Office Accounts, 1757–1764
MS account papers: American Philosophical Society
In addition to the Philadelphia Post Office Record Book described immediately above, there survives among Franklin’s papers a series of loose sheets, mostly but not all in his hand, relating to William Dunlap’s financial accounts, March 30, 1757, to July 11, 1764, and the operations of the Philadelphia Post Office during his tenure. The most important document is a balance sheet Franklin prepared from these and other records. It is reprinted here in full since it shows the gross business of this office during approximately seven and a quarter years. The other records on these sheets are described in footnotes but various arithmetical calculations used in preparing the entries are not specifically noticed.
[March 30, 1757]
William Dunlap Postmaster of Philadelphia
|To undercharg’d Letters 78 dwt. is||1||12||4|
|No. 2||To the whole Amount of Paid Letters sent by him to other Offices 15568 dwt: 8 at Do.||324||6||5|
|To the Postage of Way Letters receiv’d by him 1452 dwt. at Do.||30||5||0|
|No. 3||To Postage of paid Letters from Aug. 18. 1763 to Oct. 6. omitted above 228 dwt: at Do. is||4||15||0|
|By the amount of Dead Letters return’d to the General Post Office 44201 Dwt. at 5d. is||920||17||1|
|By Letters overcharged 18780 Dwt. at 5d. is||391||5||0|
|By Letters forwarded 40273 Dwt. at 5d. is||839||0||5|
|By his Commissions at 10 per Cent on the net Proceeds £5877 6s. 2d. is||587||14||7|
|By Cash paid Riders to Michaelmas 1763||1297||10||0|
|To the above Ballance||3992||1||7|
|To Postage receiv’d of Mr. Plowman for Letters sent to Baltimore Office2||22||8||9|
|To Ballance of the 3 Quarters from Oct. 1763 to July 6. 1764||491||18||11½|
|By Do. paid ditto at sundry times to Feb. 26. 1763||810||16||0|
|By Do. paid Ditto at sundry Times to July 11. 1764||501||16||9|
|By his Account for Mails and Bills||48||6||0|
|By Cash paid Hift, and Woolen a Gratuity from Postmaster General5||50||0||0|
1. One set of figures also on these sheets shows, in pennyweight (dwt.) and grains and by quarterly report dates, the total quantity of unpaid letters received in the Philadelphia Post Office from June 25, 1757, through Oct. 1, 1763, the way letters (picked up by the rider along his route), the undercharged, overcharged, and forwarded letters, and the ship letters paid for, although the first and last of these categories are not entered for the whole period. The unpaid letters received—the most significant items in this set of figures—averaged 14,159 dwt. per quarter.
2. Jonathan Plowman, a prominent merchant of Baltimore, was probably the local postmaster there at this time.
3. An error; the total should read £4506 9s. 3½d.
4. One sheet of these records, headed “Mr. Dunlap’s Payments to Mrs. Franklin,” lists, in columns, a series of 190 separate amounts. The only one dated is the last, marked May 17, 1761. Their final total, £2051 15s. 7d., is noted: “Sum total paid by Dunlap to Mrs. Franklin.” The payments ranged from a low of £4 to a high of £85; three-fourths were for £10 or less. For BF’s orders to make weekly payments see below, p. 169.
5. The identity of the recipients and the occasion for the gratuity have not been discovered.
6. An error; the total should read: £3464 4s. 4d. The balance due in the line below should remain the same, however, because this error and that in the total of the debit entries cancel each other out.
7. The remaining sheet in this group, headed, in BF’s hand, “W. Dunlap’s Quarterly Accounts,” contains a column of figures in pounds, shillings, and pence for each quarter from June 25, 1757, through April 1761, with a total of £2105 18s. 2d. None of the amounts matches any of the others in these records. There is a parallel column of numbers of undetermined purpose. At the bottom of this paper are some entries in two columns headed respectively “Recd by B.F.” and “W H.,” (William Hunter) which total £1822 1s. 10d. sterling and £2381 17s. 4d. sterling, which include references to James Parker, the Philadelphia office, and Alexander Colden. None of these entries is precisely duplicated in BF’s “Account of Expences” (see below, p. 164).