Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Anthony Benezet, 22 August 1772

To Anthony Benezet

ALS (letterbook draft) and copy: American Philosophical Society; copy: Haverford College Library

London, Augt 22. 1772

Dear Friend,

I made a little Extract from yours of April 27. of the Number of Slaves imported and perishing, with some close Remarks on the Hypocrisy of this Country which encourages such a detestable Commerce by Laws, for promoting the Guinea Trade, while it piqu’d itself on its Virtue Love of Liberty, and the Equity of its Courts in setting free a single Negro. This was inserted in the London Chronicle of the 20th of June last. I thank you for the Virginia Address, which I shall also publish with some Remarks.2 I am glad to hear that the Disposition against keeping Negroes grows more general in North America. Several Pieces have been lately printed here against the Practice, and I hope in time it will be taken into Consideration and suppress’d by the Legislature. Your Labours have already been attended with great Effects.3 I hope therefore you and your Friends will be encouraged to proceed. My hearty Wishes of Success attend you, being ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B F.

Mr Antho Benezet

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Benezet’s letter and BF’s communication to the Chron. (June 18–20) are above. BF apparently never wrote his remarks on the Virginia address, which was an extract of an open letter—anonymous, but by Arthur Lee—to the members of the House of Burgesses in 1767, urging the abolition of slavery. Benezet reprinted the extract in the book he had sent BF with his letter of April 27. He considered Lee’s brief statement (it is only six pages) “one of the most compendious and weighty declarations on the subject.” George S. Brookes, Friend Anthony Benezet (Philadelphia, 1937), p. 332.

3Benezet’s book, Some Historical Account of Guinea …, was reprinted in London in the spring; see the publication notice in the London Chron., May 2–5. The other attacks on the slave trade that BF had in mind were probably one in June in The Scots Mag., XXXIV (1772), 297–303, and Thomas Thompson, The African Trade for Negro-Slaves … (Canterbury, [1772]), which was noticed in May in the Monthly Rev., XLVI (1772), 541.

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