Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Josiah Quincy, 8 April 1761

To Josiah Quincy4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, April 8. 1761

Dear Sir,

I received your very obliging Letter of Dec. 25.5 by the hand of your valuable Son,6 who had before favour’d me now and then with a kind Visit. I congratulate you on his Account as I am sure you must have a great deal of Satisfaction in him. His ingenuous, manly and generous Behaviour, in a Transaction here with the Society of Arts, gave me great Pleasure as it was much to his Reputation.

I am glad my weak Endeavours for our common Interest,7 were acceptable to you and my American Friends. I shall be very happy indeed if any Good arises from them. The People in Power here do now seem convinc’d of the Truth of the Principles I have inculcated, and incline to act upon them; but how far they will be able to do so at a Peace, is still uncertain, especially as the War in Germany grows daily less favourable to us.8

My Kinsman Williams9 was but ill inform’d in the Account he gave you of my Situation here. The Assembly voted me £1500 Sterling, when I left Philadelphia, to defray the Expence of my Voyage and Negociations in England, since which they have given nothing more, tho’ I have been here near four Years. They will, I make no doubt, on winding up the Affair, do what is just; but they cannot afford to be extravagant as that Report would make them.1

I rejoice with you sincerely on the Happiness you enjoy in the Nuptial State, of which you speak so feelingly. I can easily conceive all you express, when I recollect the amiable Person, sprightly, sensible and chearful Conversation, of the Lady that favour’d us with her Company on that agreable Tour.2 Pray make my best Respects acceptable to her; and do me the Justice to believe that no one more sincerely wishes a Continuance of your Felicity, than, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Josa. Quincy Esqr

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Josiah Quincy had come to the Pa. Assembly in 1755 to solicit aid for a projected New England expedition against Crown Point. See above, VI, 3 n.

5Not found.

6Edmund Quincy (1733–1768), A.B., Harvard, 1752, merchant, and “zealous Whig” during the controversy with Great Britain, came to London in 1760 to ask the Society of Arts (above, VI, 187 n) to help in establishing a potash industry in Mass. It is not clear whether he meant to persuade the Society to offer premiums for production or merely to ascertain the amount and the conditions under which they were awarded. In discharging his mission he was assisted by Thomas Hollis and, we may presume, by BF himself. In 1766 he wrote Hollis that “the manufacture of potash is now so firmly established, it needs no farther assistance from the society. …” [Francis Blackburn], Memoirs of Thomas Hollis, Esq. F.R.S. and A.S.S. (2 vols., London, 1780), I, 120, 337–8; William S. Pattee, A History of Old Braintree and Quincy (Quincy, 1878), pp. 589–90.

7BF’s Canada Pamphlet; see above, pp. 47–100.

8In 1760 Frederick II’s enemies captured Berlin, occupied Saxony, and took much of Silesia and East Prussia. On his part Frederick routed the Austrians and Imperialists at Torgau, Nov. 3, 1760, but this victory was so costly that he was compelled to spend much of 1761 on the defensive. Stimulated by the expense and indecisiveness of the conflict and by Israel Mauduit’s famous pamphlet Considerations on the present German War (London, 1760), British public opinion began in 1761 to grow actively hostile to the King of Prussia’s cause. Gipson, British Empire, VIII, 59–61.

9Jonathan Williams, Sr. (above, I, lvii), Boston merchant and husband of BF’s niece, Grace Harris Williams (C.5.3). What rumor Williams had heard about BF’s affairs is not known.

1On Feb. 19, 1763, some three months after BF’s return, the Assembly voted him an annual salary of £500 sterling for his six years’ service in England. Norris submitted accounts to the Assembly, Feb. 16, 1763, showing that BF had spent £714 10s. 7d. “in the immediate Service” of the province in England. Thus, of the £1500 which the House had remitted to him £785 9s. 5d. remained in his hands. The Assembly subtracted this sum from the £3000 voted him on Feb. 19, and on March 4, 1763, Norris signed a certificate, payable to BF, for the balance of £2214 10s. 7d. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5402, 5405, 5414.

2Quincy married his second wife, Elizabeth Waldron, on Feb. 19, 1756. John Adams, who in 1759 was courting Hannah Quincy, Josiah’s daughter by his first wife, observed that Quincy “fondly doats” on his “young” and “very fruitful” wife. Lyman H. Butterfield, et al., eds., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams (4 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1961), I, 87, 102 n, 177 n. It is not clear to what “agreable Tour” BF is here referring.

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