Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 28 March 1763

To William Strahan

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Philada. March 28. 1763

My dear Friend

I have received your Favours of Oct. 20 and Nov. 17 by my Son, who is safely arrived with my new Daughter. I thank you for your Friendly Congratulations on his Promotion. I am just return’d from a Journey I made with him thro’ his Government, and had the Pleasure of seeing him every where receiv’d with the utmost Respect and even Affection by all Ranks of People.8 So that I have great Hopes of his being now comfortably settled.

As to myself, I mention’d to you in a former Letter, that I found my Friends here more numerous and as hearty as ever. It had been industriously reported, that I had lived very extravagantly in England, and wasted a considerable Sum of the Publick Money which I had received out of your Treasury for the Province; but the Assembly, when they came to examine my Accounts and allow me for my Services, found themselves Two Thousand two hundred and fourteen Pounds 10s. 7d. Sterling in my Debt; to the utter Confusion of the Propagators of that Falshood, and the Surprize of all they had made to believe it. The House accordingly order’d that Sum to be paid me, and that the Speaker should moreover present me with their Thanks for my Fidelity, &c. in transacting their Affairs.9

I congratulate you1 on the glorious Peace your Ministry have made, the most advantageous to Britain, in my Opinion, of any your Annals have recorded. As to the Places left or restor’d to France, I conceive our Strength will now soon increase to so great a degree in North America, that in any future War we may with ease reduce them all; and therefore I look on them as so many Hostages or Pledges of good Behaviour from that perfidious Nation.2 Your Pamphlets and Papers therefore that are wrote against the Peace with some Plausibility, give one Pleasure, as I hope the French will read them, and be persuaded they have made an excellent Bargain.

I rejoice with you and Mrs. Strahan, on Rachey’s safe Delivery, and wish you much Happiness in your Grand Daughter.3 My little Family is now altogether, and join in every good Wish for you and yours. Remember me affectionately to every one of them, and particularly to my Peggy.4

I do not forget any of your Reasons for my Return to England. The Hint you add in your last, is good and wise; it could not have been wiser or better if you had drank ever so much Madeira. It is however, impossible for me to execute that Resolution this ensuing Summer, having many Affairs first to arrange; but I trust I shall see you before you look much older.5

In the mean time, be happy; and make me happy by often letting me hear that you are so. I shall ever be, with the utmost Esteem and Affection, My dear Friend, Yours most sincerely

B Franklin

I wrote to you per Capt. Friend soon after my Arrival and since via Bristol.6

Mr. Strahan

[Addressed:] To / Mr William Strahan / Printer / in Newstreet, Shoe Lane / London / via N York / per Pacquet

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Neither letter found, but letters from Strahan to Hall of the same dates are in APS.

8Writing to Strahan, April 25, 1763, WF reported on his arrival: “My father gave us an affectionate welcome and accompany’d me to Amboy when I went to take possession of my Government.” WF’s reception by the former governor “was extremely genteel, and that from all ranks of people in New Jersey was equal to my most sanguine wishes.” PMHB, XXXV (1911), 425.

9See above, pp. 195–7, 206–7; and below, p. 238.

1This paragraph repeats, with only a few minor changes, the one in BF’s draft letter to Philip Ludwell, Feb. 22, 1763, part of which he canceled with the notation “This to Dr. Pringle and Mr. Strahan,” as explained above, p. 198 n.

2In a letter to BF, July 14, 1778, APS, five months after the American alliance with France, Strahan wrote: “Suffer me only to lament, as I dare say you do, the wide Difference between the present Times, and those in which (in your Letter to me of March 28. 1763. now lying before me) you wrote as follows:”. He then quoted this paragraph through the words “that perfidious Nation,” and went on to quote BF’s report, earlier in this letter, of the “utmost Respect and even Affection” with which the people of N.J. had greeted WF’s arrival as governor. Exclaiming “What a Reverse of Fortune!” he repeated the news he had recently heard that WF was now “imprisoned in a Common Jail, and that his Wife had died last July at New York of a broken Heart.” Without knowing what had “brought upon him this severe Treatment,” Strahan commented that “whatever his Demerits may be in the Opinion of the reigning Powers in America, the Son of Dr. Franklin ought not to receive such Usage from them.”

3Rachel Strahan Johnston’s first child was born Oct. 17, 1762. Strahan to Hall, Oct. 20, 1762, APS.

4Strahan’s younger daughter.

5In his letter of April 25, 1763, WF told Strahan: “My mother is so averse to going to sea, that I believe my father will never be induc’d to see England again. He is now building a house to live in himself.” PMHB, XXXV (1911), 426. The earliest recorded mention of BF’s building project was less than three weeks before WF wrote. Under date of April 6, 1763, BF entered in his accounts a notation that he had “Advanc’d to Mr. [Robert] Smith the Carpenter £96 towards my House.” Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, p. 13. Prior to this time the Franklins had always lived in rented quarters. The fact that he had now decided to construct his own house in Philadelphia suggests strongly that in the spring of 1763 he had no real expectation of moving permanently to England with his family, whatever he might write to friends he had left there.

6A reference to his letter of December 7 and probably to that of February 23; see above, pp. 166–9, 200.

Index Entries