Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 9 November 1765

To Deborah Franklin

ALS:5 American Philosophical Society

London, Nov. 9. 1765

Dear Debby,

I received yours and Sally’s kind Letters of Sept. 22. and Brother Read’s.6 Also one from our good Neighbour Thomson, and one from Brother Peter; one from Mr. Hall and one from Mr. Parker:7 All which I pray you to acknowledge for me, with Thanks, as I find I can not have time to write to them by this Packet. I honour much the Spirit and Courage you show’d, and the prudent Preparations you made in that [Time] of Danger. The [Woman?] deserves a good [House] that [is?] determined [torn] to defend it. I hope that Mr. Hughes [recovers?] from that Illness. [Torn and illegible] and affectionately [to everyone on?] that List [that] you give me, who were so good as to visit you [that] Evening. I shall long remember their Kindn[ess. As] to that pious Presbyterian Countryman of mine8 [whom you] say sets the People a madding, by telling them [that I] plann’d the Stamp Act, and am endeavo[uring to] bring the Test over to America, I thank him he does not charge me (as they do their God) with having plann’d Adam’s Fall, and the Damnation of Mankind.9 It might be affirm’d with equal Truth and Modesty. He certainly was intended for a Wise Man; for he has the wisest Look of any Man I know; and if he would only nod and wink, and could but hold his Tongue, he might deceive an Angel. Let us pity and forget him. I am, my dear Girl, Your ever loving Husband

B Franklin

My Love to Sally. Mrs. Stevenson presents her best Respects. Remember me kindly to Nanny.1

Addressed: To / Mrs Franklin / at / Philadelphia / via New York / per Pacquet / Free B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5A considerable tear and a large stain have caused the loss of parts of the middle of this letter.

6For DF’s letter of Sept. 22, 1765, in which matters mentioned in this letter are discussed, including her preparations to defend her house against a mob, see above, pp. 270–4. Sally’s and John Read’s letters of September 22 have not been found.

7For Charles Thomson’s letter of Sept. 24, 1765, and David Hall’s of September 6, see above, pp. 278–80 and 255–9. The letters from Peter Franklin and James Parker have not been found.

8Samuel Smith; above, p. 274.

9This sentence recalls a passage in one of BF’s pamphlets of 1735 defending the Reverend Samuel Hemphill from the attacks of more orthodox Presbyterians. Speaking of the imputation to mankind “of old Father Adam’s first Guilt,” he declared that he looked upon this opinion as “every whit as ridiculous as that of Imputed Righteousness. ’Tis a Notion invented, a Bugbear set up by Priests (whether Popish or Presbyterian I know not) to fright and scare an unthinking Populace out of their Senses. … ’Tis absurd in it self. … Moral Guilt is so personal a Thing, that it cannot … be transferr’d from one Man to Myriads of others, that were no way accessary to it.” above, II, 114.

1Ann Hardy, a former servant of Mrs. Stevenson’s who lived with DF for several years before returning to England; above, X, 334 n.

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