Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to James Wright, 9 July 1759

To James Wright7

Copy: William L. Clements Library

London July 9; 1759


When Mr. Hunter8 came to Town, I conferr’d with him on the Subject of Supporting a regular constant Post between Charles Town in South Carolina and Williamsburgh in Virginia, agreeable to what Pass’d when I had the Pleasure of Meeting you at the General Post Office. He was Concerned to hear, that by the Death of Mr. Fareis9 who we had appointed to Carry on that Post, and who had undertaken to Procure assistance from the Governments of both Carolinas to Support it, the same had been dropt. Mr. Hunter readily agreed to my Proposal, that we would appoint and Commission such Officers for the Purpose, as should be recommended to us by those Governments, at Charles Town, George Town, Cape Fear, and Edenton, or Such other Places as may be thought more Convenient for the Several Stages; which Officers should keep exact Accounts of all Expences Attending the Affair, Such as the Wages Paid to riders, Hire of Horses, Disbursements for Mails, Bags &ca. together with their own reasonable Salaries, or Allowances for their Care and Trouble in receiving and Dispatching the Mails, Delivering Letters, &ca. and also Accounts of the Sums they have received for the Postage of Letters, all which being fairly drawn, and attested upon Oath by the Officers, shall be yearly Submitted by us to the Inspection of any Persons to be appointed by the said Governments; Provided that those Governments will for the Encouragement and Support of this Post, agree to Pay only the Difficiency, or so much as the receipts shall appear to fall Short of the Expences.

What this Dificiency may be Mr. Hunter could not undertake to say, as he knew not at what rate riders and Horses might be had in those Parts, nor what the Postage of the Letters might amount to: But as Mr. Fareis had made Trial, and Carried on the Several Stages Some time before his Death, the Expence might be found in the Account he kept, which as yet had not been rendred to us.

Mr. Hunter was then going over to America, and Probably is now there. If this Proposal should be agreeable to those Governments he will immediately take the Proper Measures for carrying it into Execution, and we shall jointly use our best Endeavours to have it Conducted in the most Satisfactory and advantageous Manner to the Public.1

Whatever the Expence may be, it will Lessen yearly as People, Commerce and Correspondence Encrease, and in a few Years there is no Doubt but the Post will be able to Support itself. Each Government, besides the more easy and expeditious Dispatch of Publick Letters, Will Probably find otherways its Account in encouraging the Post; Since encreasing the Facility of Corresponding and the Opportunities of Sending Orders and receiving Advices is found to be a Means of Encreasing Mutual Commerce. With great Esteem, I am, Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant

B Franklin

To J. Wright Esqr: Marlborough Street.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7James Wright (1716–1785), agent for South Carolina, 1757–61, was born in London but moved to Charleston as a boy with his parents. He entered Grey’s Inn, 1741, was called to the bar, and subsequently became attorney general of South Carolina. He was appointed lieutenant governor of Georgia, 1760, and promoted to governor the next year, serving until expelled in 1776. He was generally credited with preventing the Georgia Assembly from sending delegates to the First Continental Congress. He returned to his post upon the British reoccupation in 1779 but was forced to leave again in 1782. He was created a baronet in 1772. DNB.

8For William Hunter, BF’s colleague as deputy postmaster general of North America, see above, V, 18 n. Hunter sailed for America in May 1759, after spending three years in England for his health. See above, p. 324.

9Not identified.

1The establishment of a “regular constant Post” between Charleston, S.C., and Va. was not attempted until 1769, four years after the southern colonies had been made a separate postal department, administered first by Benjamin Barons and then by Peter DeLancey. Service between the two places was extremely irregular, however, until after the Revolutionary War. Ruth L. Butler, Doctor Franklin Postmaster General (N. Y., 1928), pp. 115–24.

Index Entries