Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jared Ingersoll, 11 December 1762

To Jared Ingersoll

ALS: New Haven Colony Historical Society

Philada. Dec. 11. 1762

Dear Sir

I thank you for your kind Congratulations.3 It gives me Pleasure to hear from an old Friend, it will give me much more to see him. I hope therefore nothing will prevent the Journey you propose for next Summer, and the Favour you intend me of a Visit.4 I believe I must make a Journey early in the Spring, to Virginia, but purpose being back again before the hot Weather.5 You will be kind enough to let me know beforehand what time you expect to be here, that I may not be out of the way; for that would mortify me exceedingly.

I should be glad to know what it is that distinguishes Connecticut Religion from common Religion: Communicate, if you please, some of those particulars that you think will amuse me as a Virtuoso. When I travelled in Flanders I thought of your excessively strict Observation of Sunday; and that a Man could hardly travel on that day among you upon his lawful Occasions, without Hazard of Punishment;6 while where I was, every on[e] travell’d, if he pleas’d, or diverted himself any other way; and in the Afternoon both high and low went to the Play or the Opera, where there was plenty of Singing, Fiddling and Dancing. I look’d round for God’s Judgments but saw no Signs of them. The Cities were well built and full of Inhabitants, the Markets fill’d with Plenty, the People well favour’d and well clothed; the Fields well till’d; the Cattle fat and strong; the Fences, Houses and Windows all in Repair; and no Old Tenor7 anywhere in the Country; which would almost make one suspect, that the Deity is not so angry at that Offence as a New England Justice.

I left our Friend Mr. Jackson well.8 And I had the great Happiness of finding my little Family well when I came home; and my Friends as cordial and more numerous than ever. May every Prosperity attend you and yours. I am Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

Endorsed: Benj: Franklin Esqr, Letter Decembr. 11 1762.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Not found.

4Ingersoll’s journey southward did not materialize. He became deeply involved in a struggle with Gov. Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. who was also surveyor general of the woods in America, over a contract Ingersoll had negotiated to supply white pine masts for the Royal Navy, after floating them down the Connecticut River. Lawrence H. Gipson, Jared Ingersoll (New Haven, 1920), pp. 79–110.

5BF set out for Va. about the middle of April 1763 and was back in Philadelphia by May 20.

6A Conn. law of 1688, often reinforced and most recently in 1751, forbade the profanation of “the Sabboth by unnecessary travell or playeing thereon in the time of publique worshipe, or before or after,” under penalty of a 5-shilling fine or sitting in the stocks for one hour. Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, II, 88; x, 45–6. President Washington found himself handicapped by this law during his tour of 1789. John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Diaries of George Washington 1748–1799 (Boston and N.Y., 1924), IV, 50. On BF’s travels in Flanders in August–September 1761, see above, IX, 364–5.

7Between 1710 and 1740 Conn. issued large quantities of bills of credit which underwent steady depreciation in terms of silver. In an effort to reform the currency, the General Assembly passed an act in May 1740 providing for a new issue under somewhat different terms. While these bills also depreciated, they did not do so as rapidly as those of the “old tenor” emissions. Accounts continued to be kept in “old tenor” values, but bills of the “new tenor” came in time to be worth three and a half times as much in business transactions. The situation was extremely complicated, and a traveler in Conn. needed to be on his guard when dealing with the local currency. Henry Bronson, “A Historical Account of Connecticut Currency, Continental Money, and the Finances of the Revolution,” New Haven Col. Hist. Soc. Papers, I (1865), esp. 29–70.

8During Ingersoll’s agency in England he and Richard Jackson had become warm friends.

Index Entries