Benjamin Franklin Papers

Ezra Stiles: List of Franklin’s Honors, 11 July 1763

Ezra Stiles: List of Franklin’s Honors

AD: Yale University Library

During his stay at Newport in July Franklin had an opportunity to renew acquaintance with his old friend Ezra Stiles, now minister of the Congregational Church there, and to engage in conversations with him. On July 11 Franklin showed Stiles some of the papers which reflected the recognition accorded him, in America and abroad, for his scientific achievements. Almost certainly Franklin had brought these documents with him from Philadelphia at Stiles’s request. Stiles copied these papers into a volume of miscellaneous extracts now among the Stiles MSS in the Yale University Library, pp. 97–108. He headed them: “July 12, 1763. Copies of Papers taken by the Leave of Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia in Newport July 11, 1763.” Eleven documents follow.1 Ten of them are copies of diplomas, citations, or extracts of letters, most of which have been previously printed in this edition. The next to last, however, is the summary of Franklin’s “Honors” which Stiles compiled on this occasion and which is printed here.

Series of Dr. Franklin’s Honors &c.

1706. Born in Boston N England2
1746. Immersed in Electrical Experiments3
1752. Received a Compliment from the King of France4
1753. Complimented with the Degree of A.M. in Harvard College.5
1753. Do. in Yale College—and an Oration6
1756. Apr. 2.   Do. Wm and Mary College7
Id. June Father Beccarias Letter to P. Collinson8
1757 Elected F.R.S.9
1759. Feb. 12. Degree of J.U.D. from the University of St. Andrew1
1762 Feb. 22. Degree of J.C.D. voted him at Oxford and conferred the Summer following2
1759 Sept. 5 Freedom of the City of Edinburgh3
Sept. 19 Do. City of Glasgow4
Oct. 2 Do. City of St. Andrew5
1760 Letter of Count de Saluce at Turin6
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1In the order of their appearance in the Stiles volume these documents are: 1. Diploma from the University of St. Andrews, Feb. 12, 1759 (above, VIII, 277–80); 2. Freedom of the city of Edinburgh, Sept. 5, 1759 (above, VIII, 434–5); 3. Freedom of the city of Glasgow, Sept. 19, 1759 (above, VIII, 436); 4. Joseph Browne’s note to John Kelly, Feb. 22, 1762, containing the vote of the Oxford “Heads of Houses” to confer the doctorate on BF (above, this vol., p. 59); 5. Freedom of the burgh of St. Andrews, Oct. 2, 1759 (above, VIII, 439); 6. Diploma from the College of William and Mary, April 2, 1756 (above, VI, 430–1); 7. Extract of a letter from Giambatista Beccaria to Peter Collinson, 1756 (see a later note to the present document); 8. Extract of a letter from the Count de Saluce (Saluzzo) to Henry Baker, Sept. 17, 1760 (see a later note to the present document); 9. “Compliments from Father Beccaria of Turin” (above, VII, 315); 10. The “Series of Dr. Franklin’s Honors &c.” printed herewith; 11. Extract of Peter Collinson’s letter to BF, May 27, 1756?, on the unanimity of BF’s election to the Royal Society (above, VI, 449). Later Stiles copied nos. 1–7 above and the text of BF’s Yale M.A. diploma into a volume of Yale College Records (Yale Univ. Lib.).

2Stiles had recorded this fact at the end of one of the documents listed in the preceding note. Whether this son of Connecticut regarded the place of BF’s birth as one of his “Honors” is problematical.

3For the beginning of BF’s electrical experiments, see above, III, 110–11, 114–15, Autobiog. (APS-Yale), pp. 240–1.

4Above, IV, 315–16, 466–7.

5July 25, 1753; above, V, 16–17. It may be observed that at this time Stiles (almost certainly on information from BF) correctly placed the Harvard honorary degree ahead of the Yale one, although years later BF twice stated that Yale had been the first to honor him. Autobiog. (APS-Yale), p. 209; BF to Stiles, March 4, 1790, Yale Univ. Lib.

6The degrees, Sept. 12? 1753; above, V, 58. Stiles’s Latin oration, Feb. 5, 1755; above, V, 493–500. Stiles did not copy either the Harvard or Yale diploma or his Yale oration in honor of BF into this volume of miscellaneous extracts.

7Above, VI, 430–1. In copying this diploma Stiles stated that “this was the first Degree conferred in Virginia College.”

8This letter, dated the Ides of June (June 13), 1756, which Stiles had copied in its Latin original a few pages earlier, may be summarized as follows: I have received the second Paris edition of BF’s experiments with Dalibard’s notes. I see that on p. 308 BF has courteously and fully given his opinion of me, even while disagreeing on the subject of whirlwinds (above, VI, 98), and he has my gratitude. I shall also be most grateful to him and to you if I may receive from you, as my deputy, whatever he writes. If you have any others of his papers I beg you to send them to me (see below, p. 340). Be assured that I want nothing more eagerly than to make progress and shall acknowledge the source of that progress. I have ready some selected specimens relative to the history of fossils to send to Dr. Parsons (above, VI, 85 n) but see no way to send them. Give my greetings to him, and to BF when you write and let me know how I may oblige you. Consider me deeply indebted to you and take care of your health.

9Above, VI, 375–6.

1Above, VIII, 277–80. In the Latin of the diploma, St. Andrews created BF “Utriusque Juris Doctorem,” that is, “Doctor of Both Laws,” civil and canon, a title which Stiles indicated by the initials “J.U.D.” The less specific title of “Legum Doctor” was the more familiar usage, especially in England and America, indicated by “LL.D.,” the initials normally affixed to BF’s name after he received this degree. In copying this diploma Stiles noted that St. Andrews was “the oldest University in Scotland.”

2Above, pp. 59, 76–8. Oxford conferred the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws on BF, April 30, 1762.

3Above, VIII, 434–5.

4Above, VIII, 436.

5Above, VIII, 439.

6Count Guiseppe Angelo Saluzzo was one of the founders of the Academy of Sciences at Turin. Antonio Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy (Phila., 1958), pp. 63, 65–6, 87–8. Stiles copied into his volume of extracts part of Saluzzo’s letter of Sept. 17, 1760, to Henry Baker, a founder of the Society of Arts (above, VI, 449 n), in both the original French and in an English translation. The latter reads: “It is reported here that the Theory upon Electricity, of which Mr. Benjamin Franklin has laid the Foundation, to the Admiration of true and celebrated Philosophers, is at present refuted or rather rejected by modern Electricians. Mr. the Abbe Nollet has printed two Volumes of Words and Invectives to oppose that ingenious Doctrine. This Frenchman often has Recours to very futile Resources. Our celebrated Father Beccaria laughs at his Works and continues to unfold with surprising Success this so interesting Branch of Natural Philosophy.”

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