Benjamin Franklin Papers

William Franklin to Elizabeth Graeme, 7 April 1757

William Franklin to Elizabeth Graeme4

ALS: Morristown National Historical Park

At this time William Franklin appears to have been deeply in love with Elizabeth Graeme of Philadelphia. Seven of his letters written to her between his leaving Philadelphia with his father and their sailing from New York survive, and one written after they reached England. Those which give information about his father’s movements and activities not found elsewhere will be printed in this edition.

Elizabeth Town, April 7, 1757

My dearest Betsy

Our Horses are baiting, which gives me a few spare Moments. I seize them to let my Charmer know of my Welfare. We expected to have arriv’d at New York Yesterday, but the extreme Badness of the Roads prevented our getting farther than Woodbridge. Our Chaise Horses tir’d before we reached Brunswick, which oblig’d us to leave them and the Carriage behind, and to come forward on Horseback. We shall, however, God willing, this Day reach the Place of Embarkation. Every Morning since our Departure has had a lowering Aspect, but before Noon the Clouds have dispers’d, the Sun has shone, and the Remainder of the Day has prov’d most delightfully agreeable. The Morning of our Love, my dear Betsy, has likewise been and is still overcast, threat’ning a wrecking Storm; who knows but kind Heav’n may graciously permit a chearing Sun to scatter these Clouds of Difficulties which hang over us, and afford a Noon and Evening of Life calm and serene. I trust our Conduct will be such as to deserve this Mark of Divine Goodness; may we not then reasonably [hope for?] its Accomplishment. Drawing [at least one line missing].

I hope before I leave New York to hear of our dear Mamma’s being in a fair Way of Recovery.5 She has my most cordial Prayers; and believe me my dear Betsy, there is Nothing I more sincerely wish than the Prosperity of every Branch of your good Family. Pray let me be respectfully remembered to them.

An Invitation from Govr. Belcher to Dinner, cuts me shorter than I intended. That every Blessing may attend you is the ardent Prayer of, Dear Betsy, Your most affectionate

Wm. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Elizabeth Graeme (1739–1801) was the daughter of Dr. Thomas Graeme, Philadelphia physician and one of the provincial councilors, and his wife Ann Diggs, stepdaughter of the former governor Sir William Keith. The relationship between the young people was suddenly ended while William was in England, apparently through his initiative and to her distress. In 1772 she married a Scot, Henry Hugh Fergusson (or Ferguson), but separated from him during the Revolution when he became a Loyalist while she supported the American cause. PMHB, XXXV (1911), 415–17; XXXIX (1915), 257–60; LVI (1932), 1–2. Letters from BF, about which she wrote later, are now lost: “I have some of the kindest and fondest letters from Dr. Franklin wrote to me when he wished me to have been a member of his family, which had had [sic] vanity taken place, and I had had a mind to have shewn them, would have been circulated thro all the anecdote writers in Europe and America under the article traits of Dr. Franklin’s Domestic Character.” To Benjamin Rush, Dec. 23, 1797, Rush Papers, Lib. Co. Phila.

5Mrs. Graeme (“Mamma”) had been ill for some time.

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