Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Ferdinand John Paris, 12 August 1757

From Ferdinand John Paris6

Copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hampstead7 Friday Afternoon past 4.
12. Augst. 1757.


In Consequence of my Letter to You, of the 10th. Instant,8 I am now to acquaint You, that it’s believed the Youngest of the Proprietarys9 is some where from Home, and has not received, at least he has not answered, his Brother’s Letter, touching the Appointment for to Morrow; Which, therefore, must go off; And they will take the first Opportunity to fix some other Time, Of which, You shall have due Notice, from, Sir, Your most humble Servant

F: J: P:

Benjamin Franklin Esqr.
12. August 1757
Copp Mr. Paris’s Second Letter to Mr. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Ferdinand John Paris (d. 1759), admitted to the Inner Temple, 1715, for nearly forty years specialized in representing colonial affairs before the Board of Trade. He acted as legal advisor to the Penn family as early as 1720. In 1731 he was appointed London agent for the Pa. Assembly, but in 1740 his close connection with the Proprietors led to his discharge. Shrewd, energetic, haughty, skilled in the procedures acceptable to the various ministries, and in the use of every technicality, he was a formidable opponent, and, as the Penns’ spokesman and penman, the man with whom BF as Assembly agent had to contend. BF found him “A proud angry Man [who] … had conceiv’d a mortal Enmity to me.” Thomas Hutchinson called him “one of the first rate” solicitors, but “one who had a peculiar talent at slurring the characters of his antagonists. Many of his briefs which I have seen abound in this way.” Mabel P. Wolff, The Colonial Agency of Pennsylvania 1712–1757 (Phila., 1933), pp. 39–41, 78, 88–9; London Mag., XXVIII (1759), 684; Par. Text edit., p. 414; Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Lawrence Shaw Mayo, ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1936), II, 292. At about the time he wrote this letter Paris received a report which doubtless contributed to his “enmity” to BF: “Mr. Franklin will be in England [soon], Exhibiting his complaints against the Proprietors, as is thought and expected by many that sent him; but I imagine his own schemes are very different from those of his Employers. He is a sensible Artfull man, very knowing in American affairs, and was his heart as sound as his head, few men would be fitter for Publick trust; But that is far from being the Case, He has nothing in view but to serve himself, and however he may give another turn to what he says and does; Yet you may be assured that is at the bottom, and in the End will shew itself. One motive among others, that Possibly induced him to chuse this Embassy, might be his apprehensions of danger from the back inhabitants, who in case of any remarkable blow from the french and Continuation of this note and notes 7 and 8 are on next page. Indians, would in my opinion have sacrafised him and his associates.” Robert Hunter Morris to Paris, July 4, 1757; Yale Univ. Lib.

7At this time a country village northwest of London.

8Not found; see the next document for BF’s first meetings with the Proprietors.

9Richard Penn, younger brother of Thomas. Although the brothers were legally joint Proprietors, for over ten years Richard had left the management of affairs almost entirely in his brother’s hands.

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