Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Price, 1 August 1767

To Richard Price

Facsimile of ALS: Catalogue of Charles Hamilton Sale, Dec. 13, 1966, p. 95, no. 284.2

Cravenstreet Saturday Aug 1. 67

Reverend and dear Sir,

Last Night I received a Letter from Dr. Robertson, acquainting me that the University of Edinburgh have on my Recommendation conferr’d the Degree of Dr. in Divinity upon the Revd. Mr. Cooper of Boston:3 an Event, that when I last had the Pleasure of seeing you, you may remember I was desirous of waiting for, before I should be concern’d in any new Application of the same kind. And indeed as I have made three already,4 I begin to feel a little unwilling to apply again immediately to the same University in favour of another, lest they should think me troublesome; tho’ they have hitherto been very obliging. And recollecting that you mention’d your having a Correspondence with the Principal of the College at Glasgow, I now purpose applying to that University for Mr. Elliot’s Degree,5 if you approve of it, and will with Mr. Radcliffe6 address your recommendation to the same Place, to accompany mine. Please to present my respectful Compliments to Mrs. Price and Mrs. Barker;7 and believe me, with sincere Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Previously printed in 2 Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., XVII (1903), 263–4; and in Smyth, Writings, V, 36–7, where the editor recorded that in 1906 the MS was “in the possession of Walter Ashburner, Esq., of London, a descendant of Dr. Price’s sister,” and that copies of this and 80 other letters addressed to Price had been presented to Mass. Hist. Soc. “by Mr. Norton.”

3See the document immediately above.

4Two of the three were Ezra Stiles and Samuel Cooper. The third—quite inadequately documented among BF’s surviving papers—was Eleazer Wheelock, at this time head of Moor’s Charity School for Indians at Lebanon, Conn. and in 1769 the founder of Dartmouth College at Hanover, N.H. He received the D.D. degree from Edinburgh in June 1767. None of BF’s correspondence with Wheelock’s friends in Great Britain or with the Edinburgh officials relating to this degree has been found; the one definite clue to his participation is an entry in his accounts, Aug. 4, 1767, of his procuring from Brown & Collinson a draft for £12 7s. 6d. “in fav. of Roffey for a Degree of Doct. of Divinity.” Journal, 1764–1776, p. 13; Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 4, 28. Samuel Roffey, a London banker, was an active member of the Board of Trustees recently established in England to handle money raised there for the support of Wheelock’s educational activities among the Indians. Evidently BF was here providing the funds to pay the fees for Wheelock’s degree. On the successful efforts to procure this degree for him, see Leon B. Richardson, An Indian Preacher in England (Hanover, N.H., 1933), pp. 264, 267, 279, 282, 285.

5This was Andrew Eliot (1718–1778), A.B., 1737, and M.A., 1740, Harvard; Minister of the New North Church, Boston, since 1742; a member of the Harvard Corporation, 1765. The efforts of BF and Price in his behalf proved to be unnecessary, as Clifford K. Shipton has pointed out: “Benjamin Franklin in 1767 was moving distinguished Europeans to help him to obtain an S.T.D. degree for Eliot at Edinburgh or Glasgow when Deacon John Barrett of the New North [Church] obtained the degree from the former for his pastor by the simpler process of paying cash.” Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, X, 148, citing inter alia William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, I (1859), 418.

6Ebenezer Radcliffe became pastor of a congregation of English Presbyterians in Poor Jewry Lane, London in 1762, and Price became his assistant, giving up the pulpit at the afternoon service at Newington Green in order to preach at that service to the Poor Jewry Lane congregation. Roland Thomas, Richard Price Philosopher and Apostle of Liberty (London, 1924), p. 40.

7Perhaps a housekeeper or attendant-companion to Mrs. Price, who was an invalid.

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