Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 25 June 1764

To William Strahan

ALS: Pierpont Morgan Library

Philada. June 25. 1764

Dear Sir,

I wrote a few Lines to go to you via Liverpool; but they were too late for the Ship, and now accompany this.1

I gave Mr. Parker2 a Power of Attorney to act for you and myself, with respect to Mecom’s Affairs, who has, under Oath, surrendred all he possess’d into his Hands, to be divided proportionably between us and his other Creditors, which are chiefly Rivington and Fletcher, and Hamilton and Balfour.3 The Effects consist of a Printing Press, some tolerably good Letter, and some Books and Stationary. He has render’d particular and exact Accounts, but his All will fall vastly short of Payment. I suppose it will scarce amount to 4s. in the Pound.4 Parker thinks him honest, and has let him have a small Printing-House at Newhaven in Connecticut, where he is now at work;5 but having a Wife and a Number of small Children, I doubt it will be long ere he gets anything beforehand, so as to lessen much of his old Debt. I think it would be well for each of his Creditors to take again what remains unsold of their respective Goods, of which there are separate Accounts, and join in impowering Mr. Parker to sell the Remainder, to be divided among us.6 Tho,” on second Thoughts, perhaps the fairest Way, is to sell and divide the whole. You can obtain their Sentiments, and send me your own. As to what Parker owes you, it is very safe, and you must have Interest.7

I hope the Bath will fully re-establish good Mrs. Strahan’s Health.8 I enjoy the Pleasure with which you speak of your Children.9 God has been very good to you, from whence I think you may be assured that he loves you, and that he will take at least as good Care of your future Happiness as he has done of your present. What Assurance of the Future can be better founded, than that which is built on Experience of the Past?1 Thank me for giving you this Hint, by the Help of which you may die as chearfully as you live. If you had Christian Faith, quantum suff[icit]. This might not be necessary: But as Matters are, it may be of Use.

Your Political Letters are Oracles here. I beseech you to continue them. With unfeigned Esteem, I am, as ever, Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

Mr. Strahan

Addressed: To / Mr William Strahan / Printer, Newstreet Square, / Shoe Lane / London / per Capt. Hammet2

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1The “few Lines” must have been BF’s letter of June 17 (above, pp. 228–9); he probably meant to send them by the brig Polly, Capt. P. Long, whose clearance for Liverpool Pa. Gaz., June 14, 1764, recorded.

2For James Parker, New Jersey printer and comptroller of the North American Post Office, see above, II, 341 n.

3Benjamin Mecom, whose failure to make a go of the New-York Pacquet in the summer of 1763 was only the latest in a long series of business failures, was described by BF on Dec. 19, 1763, as being “dejected and spiritless”; he was also very bankrupt. See above, X, 153 n, 406 n. Rivington and Fletcher, a bookselling firm in St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, had become bankrupt in 1760. James Rivington (1724–1802) then migrated to America and set up in business in Philadelphia and later New York. William Strahan warned David Hall against him. In 1773 Rivington started a newspaper in New York which soon led to his being regarded as one of the most obnoxious Tories in the city. DAB; DNB; Septimus Rivington, The Publishing Family of Rivington (London, 1919), pp. 41–6. Hamilton and Balfour were booksellers in Edinburgh; see above, IX, 295 n.

4See below, p. 332, for Parker’s account of Mecom’s effects.

5At New Haven Mecom revived Parker’s Connecticut Gazette, but this paper failed in 1768. Mecom was appointed postmaster of New Haven in 1765. The press was the one BF had bought in 1753; see above, V, 82–3.

6Parker sold Mecom’s effects at public auction in New York in 1770. Parker to BF, Feb. 2, April 23, 1770, APS.

7BF assumed this debt when he returned to England, paying Strahan £163 13s. 7d. on Feb. 1, 1765. See above, X, 406 n, and below, pp. 414, 470–1.

8Mrs. Strahan suffered from a “bilious, cholicy disorder” and frequently sought relief in the waters at Bath. J. A. Cochrane, Dr. Johnson’s Printer The Life of William Strahan (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), p. 96.

9For Strahan’s children, see above, X, 169 n.

1For an almost identical expression of these sentiments, see above, p. 231.

2Pa. Gaz., June 28, 1764, reported the clearance of the Dragon, Capt. Francis Hammett. London Chron., Aug. 2–4, 1764, reported its arrival off Tor Bay.

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