Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to James Bowdoin, 5 February 1771

To James Bowdoin

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

London, Feb. 5. 1771

Dear Sir,

I am very sensible of the Honour done me by your House of Representatives, in appointing me their Agent here. It will make me extreamly happy if I can render them any valuable Service. I have had several Conferences with Mr. Bollan on their Affairs: There is a good Understanding between us, which I shall endeavour to cultivate. At present the Cloud that threatned our Charter Liberties seems to be blown over.3 In Time I hope Harmony will be restored between the two Countries, by leaving us in the full Possession and Enjoyment of our Rights.

It will be a great Pleasure to me if I can be any way useful to your Son while he stays in England;4 being, with the greatest Esteem and Respect for you and Mrs. Bowdoin, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

PS. Inclos’d I send you a Copy of an original Paper of some Curiosity now in my Hands. The first Part, i.e. the Queries, you will find in the Papers pertaining to the Governor’s History: But not the Abstract or State given with them to Mr. Randolph.5

The old Spelling is preserv’d in the Copy.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3For the threat to the Massachusetts charter see above, XVII, 279 n, 308, 311.

4See Bowdoin to BF above, Jan. 2. Young Bowdoin, who carried that letter and the one from Cooper of Jan. 1, made a remarkably quick crossing.

5BF enclosed a copy of the material that the government provided Edward Randolph on his mission to New England in 1676. This material consisted of (a) 12 queries about conditions in Massachusetts Bay; (b) a series of factual statements about New England, which Randolph might confirm or disprove. The queries, together with Randolph’s answers, are printed in the work to which BF refers, [Thomas Hutchinson], Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay (Boston, 1769), pp. 477–503. The factual statements about New England are printed almost in extenso in W. Noel Sainsbury, ed., Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, 1675–1676... (London, 1893), pp. 362–3. BF was clearly interested in this material, and assumed that Bowdoin would be, because Randolph’s mission contributed to the revocation of the Massachusetts charter in 1685, and revocation seemed to be again in the wind.

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