Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Read, 17 June 1766

From John Read5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada: 17th June 1766

Dear Brother

Inclosed I send You a Copy of a letter to reinstate me again into the Kings service how long it may last I know not I have agreed to go to Execute that business, under the disadvantages ariseing from the great Expence of traveling in hopes I may be allowed something at London for former Expencies as per my letter to You of the 21st May which I hope You have received.6 If You can serve me it Will lay me under great obligations to You.

Mr. Franks here tels me he wrote to Mr. Franks one of the Contractors in London very warmly recomending me to him,7 to get me apointed Commissary for the South West Districkt otherwise cauld the Pennsilvania Districkt and If posoble to Obtaine rank in the Army [torn: such as p]uts one upon a futing [footing] to do business with Officers, &ca.

I have wrote several letters formerly8 but Supose You have much other buseness upon Hands but should be glad to have a line or two to Know if any aplications have been made or If it be posoble any can be made. Mr. Leake9 thinks a frind in England could Easely get me upon the Establisment Espetialy for One who has served so long and Don so much publick business as I have.1

Mr. Allin has Roundly Asserted and that in the House that You was the great Cause of Bringing on the Stam[p] Act, it makes a good Deal of noise. I hear a Number of Your Frinds and some that loves You very well say they Hope and wish You will fall upon some method of Convincing the Publick of the falshood of his Assertions.2 Docter Smith has Said Somthing in religous Polliticks that has greatly Iretated the Prisbetearen Clerge the Sinod at New York have nominated Some Wits of the laiety to handle him it relats to the haveing of an American Bishop of which Smith has great Hopes of the apointment.3 I am Dear Sir Your Loving and Efechonate Brother

John Read

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr: / Craven Street / Lond[on]

Endorsed: Bror J. Read June 17. 1766 Wants Rank &c

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5DF’s brother. He had served as a wagonmaster under Braddock in 1755 (above, VI, 221–2) and as deputy commissary under Bouquet later in the war. DF reported to BF early in August 1765 that he had returned from New York to Philadelphia; above, XII, 226.

6Neither the letter enclosed with this one nor the letter to BF of May 21 has been found.

7David Franks (1720–1793) and William Plumsted (above, XII, 45 n, 240 n) had been mercantile partners in Philadelphia until Plumsted’s death in 1765. They had acted as agents for the London contractors for army supplies, Colebrook, Nesbitt & Franks. A member of the London firm was Moses Franks (1718–1789), brother of the Philadelphia merchant. Their father was the New York merchant Jacob Franks. There is much scattered material on this family in Edwin Wolf, 2nd, and Maxwell Whiteman, The History of the Jews of Philadelphia from Colonial Times to the Age of Jackson (Phila., 1957).

8None of Read’s earlier letters to BF has been found, but BF acknowledged the receipt of one in the fall of 1765; above, XII, 360.

9Almost certainly Robert Leake (c.1720–1774) commissary general for stores for the British Army in America.

1No reply by BF to this request has been found and the editors have discovered no evidence as to the success of Read’s application for army rank.

2Several letters from Galloway, Wharton, and others earlier in the year had reported Allen’s charges against BF and the “noise” they made. The circulation and later publication of BF’s Examination before the House of Commons provided a helpful response to the attacks.

3To a large degree Read’s account here represents rumor and gossip rather than the solid facts of “religious Polliticks” at the time he was writing. Certainly Provost William Smith was active in the effort to get Anglican bishops appointed for the colonies, and there were suspicions—not wholly groundless, perhaps—among both Anglicans and Presbyterians that he himself hoped to be named a bishop if and when such prelates should be established. On the other side there was a considerable effort to effect a union between Presbyterians and Congregationalists—partly to strengthen the opposition to the Church of England—but at the Presbyterian Synod of May 1766 there appears to have been no move to nominate “Some Wits of the laiety to handle” Provost Smith or to attack him personally in any other manner. On some aspects of the situation at this time, see Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre (N.Y., 1962), pp. 266–7, 271–4.

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