Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 5 March 1760

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, March 5. 1760

My dear Child,

I receiv’d the Enclos’d some time since from Mr. Strahan.3 I afterwards spent an Evening in Conversation with him on the Subject. He was very urgent with me to stay in England and prevail with you to remove hither with Sally. He propos’d several advantageous Schemes to me which appear’d reasonably founded. His Family is a very agreable one; Mrs. Strahan a sensible [and]4 good Woman, the Children of amiable [char]acters and particularly the young Man, [who is] sober, ingenious and industrious, and a [desirable] Person. In Point of Circumstances [there can] be no Objection, Mr. Strahan being [in so thriving] a Way,5 as to lay up a Thousand [Pounds] every Year from the Profits of his Business, after maintaining his Family and paying all Charges. I gave him, however, two Reasons why I could not think of removing hither. One, my Affection to Pensilvania, and long established Friendships and other Connections there: The other, your invincible Aversion to crossing the Seas. And without removing hither, I could not think of parting with my Daughter to such a Distance. I thank’d him for the Regard shown us in the Proposal; but gave him no Expectation that I should forward the Letters. So you are at Liberty to answer or not, as you think proper. Let me however, know your Sentiments.6 You need not deliver the Letter to Sally, if you do not think it proper.

My best Respects to Mr. Hughes, Mr. Bartram,7 and all enquiring Friends. I am, Your ever loving Husband

B [Franklin]

PS. I have wrote several Letters to you lately.8 But can now hardly tell by what Ships.

Addressed: To / Mrs Franklin / Philadelphia / per favour of / Mr Drinker9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Not found, but from what follows, clearly a formal proposal for the marriage of Sarah Franklin and William Strahan, Jr. (above, V, 439 n), and for the permanent settlement of the Franklin family in England. Both fathers had contemplated the match since Sarah was seven and William ten; see above, III, 479–80; VI, 220; VII, 69, 115, 297.

4The MS is torn; missing words or parts of words are supplied conjecturally in brackets. With one exception, noted below, they agree with the insertions printed without brackets by Sparks (Works, VII, 194–5). Bigelow followed Sparks exactly (Works, III, 44–5); Smyth used brackets and deviated from Sparks where the present editors have, but in a different way (Writings, IV, 9–10).

5Sparks, and Bigelow after him, printed “Mr. Strahan being in such a way,” thereby ignoring the plainly written “iving” which remains in the MS. Smyth suggested “Mr. Strahan being [now] living a Way,” which seems less satisfactory than the suggestion made here.

6No letter from DF in response has been found; her steadfast refusal to cross the ocean would have been a barrier to Strahan’s plan, whatever she might have thought of the proposed match.

7John Hughes (above, VI, 284–5 n) and John Bartram, the botanist (above, II, 378 n).

8For BF’s letters of Feb. 21 and 27, 1760, see above, pp. 25, 27.

9Henry Drinker (1734–1809), Quaker merchant and partner in the Philadelphia firm of James and Drinker. PMHB, XIV (1890), 41–5.

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