Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jane Mecom, 25 November 1762

To Jane Mecom

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Nov. 25. 1762

Dear Sister,

I thank you for your obliging Letter of the 12th. Instant.7 My Wife says she will write to you largely by next Post, being at present short of Time. As to the Promotion and Marriage you mention,8 I shall now only say that the Lady is of so amiable a Character, that the latter gives me more Pleasure than the former,9 tho’ I have no doubt but that he will make as good a Governor as Husband: for he has good Principles and good Dispositions, and I think is not deficient in good Understanding.1 I am as ever Your affectionate Brother

B Franklin

Our Love to Brother and your Children.

Addressed: To / Mrs Jane Mecom / Boston / Free / B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Not found.

8Pa. Gaz., Nov. 25, 1762, carried a report from Boston, dated November 11, of WF’s marriage to Elizabeth Downes and his appointment as governor of N.J. BF had kept silent on both matters, even in his letter to his sister of November 11, apparently until he knew that both had been publicly announced.

9It seems that WF had been courting Miss Downes for some time; Richard Jackson’s brother-in-law, Thomas Bridges, wrote Jared Ingersoll (who had known WF in England), Sept. 30, 1762, that soon after BF had sailed, “the Young Gentleman took unto him a Wife, I will not leave you to Guess who, for You cannot suppose it to be any other than his Old Flame in St. James’s Street; we think the Lady has great luck on her side, to get a Smart Young fellow for her Husband, and the Honour of being a Governor’s Lady.” New Haven Col. Hist. Soc. Papers, IX (1918), 278. Strahan shared BF’s pleasure in the marriage; writing to David Hall, Nov. 1, 1762, he declared that WF’s “Lady is, in my mind, as good a Soul as breathes, and they are very happy in one another. She is indeed a Favourite with all who know her, give me leave therefore to recommend her to your particular Attention.” APS.

1Governor Hamilton did not share BF’s opinion of WF’s qualifications for a governorship. The appointment, he told Thomas Penn, Nov. 21, 1762, “occasioned a universal astonishment” in both Pa. and N.J., “as he is, perhaps, a Man of as bad a heart as I ever was acquainted with. He would certainly make wild work, without his Fathers experience and good Understanding to check and moderate his Passion.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. Actually, neither BF’s optimism nor Hamilton’s pessimism was fully justified in the end. WF experienced the usual difficulties of any royal governor in reconciling his instructions with the Assembly’s wishes, but he tried harder than some of his colleagues to get the home authorities to understand the reasons for colonial desires. He showed some skill in political maneuvering, and until the pre-Revolutionary crisis became acute, and he became an outspoken Loyalist, his administration was marked by considerable good will on both sides. For a survey of his governorship see Catherine Fennelly, “William Franklin of New Jersey,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, VI (1949), 361–82.

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