Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Solomon Williams, 25 January 1764

From Solomon Williams3

Draft: Lyme Historical Society-Florence Griswold Association, Inc., Old Lyme, Conn.

Leb: 25 Jany 1764.

Honored Sir

You Will Pardon this Trouble and My Freedom In using your Name When I inform you that Mr. Webster4 for Whom is the Enclosed Desired me thus to Make use of your Name to Carry a Letter to him with the Assurance that he had your Favorable permission for it. Since I have this Occasion to Speak to you Allow me sir in the Crowd of your Admirers to Return you My Sincere Thanks for your Eminent Services to the literary World by your Wonderful discoverys and Improvements In Electricity. I wish you Increasing and abundant Success and honor in All your Generous Endeavors to promote the Improvement and happiness of Mankind. I am Honored Sir with Great Respect your very humble Servant

S: W:

Copy of the Cover of my Letter to Mr. Webster to Mr. Franklin.5

Endorsed: Copy of My Lr to Mr Pelatiah Webster

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Solomon Williams (1700–1776), A.B., Harvard, 1719; D.D., Yale, 1773, was the minister of the First Congregational Church at Lebanon, Conn., from 1722 to 1776. A moderate New Light who supported George Whitefield but opposed Jonathan Edwards, Williams founded the Lebanon town library and grammar school and was a trustee of Yale, 1749–76. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, VI, 352–61. His son William (1731–1811) was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

4Pelatiah Webster (1726–1795), B.A., Yale, 1746, was born in Lebanon, Conn. (hence his acquaintance with Williams) and was ordained to preach at Greenwich, Mass., in 1749, but left the ministry six years later and went to Philadelphia where he became a merchant. During the Revolutionary War he wrote a series of essays on money and commerce which won him a considerable reputation as a political economist. He was an ardent advocate of a strong central government and wrote cogently in support of the adoption of the Federal Constitution. DAB.

5The draft of Williams’ letter to Webster is on the same sheet as the above. It chiefly concerns the disastrous circumstances of Webster’s relatives in Lebanon. Because of their penury he suggested that Webster get BF to frank his and their letters back and forth—an example of what the deputy postmaster general might be expected to do for acquaintances. A new statute soon explicitly forbade such abuses of the franking privilege. See below, p. 39 n.

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