Post Office Accounts
AD: American Philosophical Society
Among Franklin’s miscellaneous post-office records is a folio sheet containing a memorandum of amounts due to him and his colleague John Foxcroft for traveling expenses while on official business and a balance sheet of his account with the General Post Office with entries dated between July 9, 1764, and March 20, 1765. Both are in Franklin’s hand. Parts of two pages contain various monetary calculations, but with a single unexplained exception, none of the amounts appearing in these calculations matches any of the entries in the memorandum or balance sheet, hence they are not reproduced here.
[July 9, 1764]
|G.P.O. Dr. to B.F.|
|His Allowance for travelling Expences thro” all the Colonies from Virginia to New Hampshire to visit and regulate the Offices establish new ones, &c. 79 Days at 21s.6||82.||19.||0|
|G.P.O. Dr. to J.F.|
|His Allowance &c. 93 Days at 21s.7||97.||13.||0|
|G.P.O. Dr. to J.F.|
|His Allowance &c. to Annapolis 18 Days at 21s.8||18||18||0|
|G.P.O. Dr. to J.F.|
|His Allowance to Lancaster and York
9 Days at 21.9
|See his Letter from March 16. 1765|
|Dr||General Post Office1|
|1764||July||12.||To B Franklin for Bills remitted R. Trevor Esqr.2||£1500:||0:||0|
|Aug.||9.||To Do. Do.||550:||0:||0|
|To Do. for Fees paid Lawyers3||4.||13.||11|
|Oct.||2.||To Do. for One Years Salary||300:||0.||0|
|To J.F. for One Years Salary||300:||0:||0|
|To Fr. and Foxt. Comptrollers Salary and [Int. paid?]||105:||0:|
|1765||Mar.||15.||To J.F. for Ballance of Williamsburg Office paid J Royle||46.||15:||5|
|To B F. travelling Expences 79 Days at 21||82.||19||-|
|To J F. Do.||82.||19||-|
|To J F. Journey to Portsmouth 14 Days||14.||14||-|
|To J F. Do. to Annapolis 18 Days||18.||18||-|
|To J F. Do. to Lancaster 9 Days||9:||9:||-|
|July||9.||1764.||By Ballance of Account to this Day||£2070.||12.||3¼|
|25||By B F. Cash received of J.P. Tower hill Office4||3.||11.||3|
|28.||By B F. received of Do. N York Office £500 Currency||266.||13.||4|
|Sept.||5.||By B F. received of Philadelphia Office||805.||10.||6|
|Oct.||5.||By B F. received of Philadelphia Office||68:||16:||7¼|
|By J. F. received of Annapolis Office||17.||18.||3¼|
|22.||By Do. received of York Office Virginia||2:||12.||1½|
|Nov.||2.||By Do. received of W. Dunlap per Hunter’s Executors||51:||9:||2½|
|March||5:||1765.||By Do. received of Do. per Mr. Royle5||77:||6.||5|
|15.||By Do. received of York Office Virginia||6:||2.||3¼|
|Aug.||2.||1764.||By B F. received of J P. from Tower Hill Office 32s. 6d. York||-||17.||0|
|By J F. received of Do. [Ballance of Lottery Account £36: 5. 0]6 Pennsylvania Money||21.||0.||0|
|March||18.||1765.||By B F. received of J P. £82. 4: 0 Pennsylvania Money||45.||0.||0|
|20.||By B F. received of Do. 11: 16. 0 Do.||6.||14.||10|
|Query. Whether the two last Articles of this Account were not paid by Mr. Parker as part of his private Debt to B F.?|
6. The journeys represented here were those of 1763 to Virginia in April-May and to New England in June-November. Above, X, 252, 276–9. The charge for 79 days, however, is puzzling. BF was away from Philadelphia on the Virginia trip for about 29 days and on the New England trip for 151. He probably took credit, at one guinea sterling per day, only for the days actually spent in travel, omitting the time spent in Williamsburg, New York, Boston (where he was laid up for several weeks with his injured shoulder), and other places at which he spent a few days with friends or relatives. Although many details of the New England trip are known, none is recorded for the earlier journey to Virginia, and it is impossible now to determine the exact basis BF used for this calculation.
7. As two entries in the balance sheet show, the 93 days for which Foxcroft was entitled to a per diem travel allowance were made up of one journey of 79 days and one of 14 days to Portsmouth. The longer of these matched BF’s travels in distance but in a different sequence of places: BF’s itinerary was Philadelphia-Williamsburg-Philadelphia-New England-Philadelphia; Foxcroft’s was Williamsburg-Philadelphia-New England-Philadelphia-Williamsburg. Foxcroft’s additional credit for 14 days to Portsmouth (specifically shown on the balance sheet), however, presents another puzzle. If BF’s accident occurred soon after the two men left Boston for Portsmouth in August 1763, he may have turned back, allowing Foxcroft to make that trip alone, and claiming no travel time for himself for that part of the entire expedition. But in two letters of early September, BF wrote very definitely of his return to Boston “from Portsmouth” (above, X, 337, 338), and he later told Peter Collinson that his journey had taken him “to the easternmost Part of New England” (above, X, 400), an expression which a native of Boston would hardly have used had he gone only a few miles beyond that town. It is possible, though not likely, that Foxcroft made a second trip to Portsmouth in September or early October while BF was recuperating in Boston. It seems even less likely that a journey from Williamsburg to Portsmouth, Va., was meant; there was no post office in that place at the time, and its residents were doubtless served by the office in nearby Norfolk.
8. The date of this trip is not recorded.
9. Foxcroft undoubtedly made this inspection trip during one of his stays in Philadelphia: either after they had both come up from Virginia together in May 1763; or after their return from New England in November (he did not leave for Virginia until at least the end of that month (see above, X, 384); or sometime in 1764, perhaps in September (see below, pp. 341–6). BF would probably have been too deeply involved in Assembly business to have made the trip with Foxcroft at any of these times.
1. None of the transactions entered in this balance sheet appears to have been recorded in either BF’s Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, or the Journal and Ledger he kept while in England on his second mission.
2. Receiver general of the revenue of the Post Office.
3. On Dec. 19, 1763, BF had paid Jared Ingersoll 30s. as a fee for attaching property of John Holt, former New Haven postmaster, to secure a debt due the Post Office. See above, X, 402–3. The rest of this £4 13s. 11d. may represent fees to lawyers for similar services in connection with other delinquent postmasters.
4. “J.P.” was James Parker, comptroller of the colonial postal service. Tower Hill was the landing place for Newport vessels on the west shore of Narragansett Bay.
5. Joseph Royle (d. 1766), brother-in-law of BF’s former colleague in the Post Office, William Hunter. After Hunter’s death Royle conducted the Williamsburg printing office and published the Virginia Gazette for the benefit of Hunter’s estate and his young son and heir.
6. Brackets in the original.