Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Rush, 22 August 1772

To Benjamin Rush1

ALS:2 Yale University Library; letterbook draft: American Philosophical Society

London, Augst 22. 1772

Dear Sir,

I am favoured with yours of June 24. and shall as it is my Duty endeavour to obtain the Royal Assent to every Act passed by our Assembly; and to that you recommend, the more particularly as I think it reasonable in itself, and connected with Liberty of Conscience a Fundamental of our Constitution.3 But I am doubtful of its Success when I recollect that an Act of the same kind about twenty or twenty-five Years ago was repealed here, as introducing new Modes of Swearing unknown to the English Laws.4 I shall however try what can be done.

I imagine I should thank you for a little Piece on preserving Health which I have read with Pleasure.5 I wish you all Prosperity, being, with great Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

I have lately heard from our Friends Dubourg and Dupont at Paris, who were well.6

Dr Rush

Addressed: To / Dr Rush / Philadelphia / per Capt. Falconer

Endorsed: Benjn. Franklin August 22 1772

1For BF’s old friend, the Philadelphia physician and humanitarian, see above, XIII, 387 n.

2Some autograph-hunter has cut off the signature.

3The Pennsylvania act, passed the preceding March, to legalize an oath taken by raising the hand instead of kissing the Bible. The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1801 (15 vols., Harrisburg, 1896–1911), VIII, 239–40; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884 (3 vols., Philadelphia, 1884), II, 1269. For an exhaustive, not to say exhausting, dissertation upon the relationship BF mentions between the act and liberty of conscience see Marshall to BF below, Oct. 30. We have found no other evidence of Rush’s concern with this particular issue, but he was a lifelong opponent of statutory oaths; see Lyman H. Butterfield, ed., Letters of Benjamin Rush (2 vols., Princeton, 1951), 1, 527–8.

4BF was presumably referring to an act for naturalizing foreign Protestants who were not Quakers, and who refused to take any oath; but he was wrong about its fate. It was passed in 1743 and approved in 1746. Pa. Statutes at Large (cited above), IV, 391–4; Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 21–3.

5Rush’s Sermons to Gentlemen upon Temperance and Exercise, published in February, 1772: Pa. Gaz., Feb. 6. Rush sent a copy to Edward Dilly, the London bookseller, who republished the pamphlet in May under an amended title. Lyman H. Butterfield, “The American Interests of the Firm of E. and C. Dilly, with Their Letters to Benjamin Rush …,” Bibliographical Soc. of America Papers, XLV (1951), 308–9.

6During his stay in Paris in 1769 Rush had been introduced, through BF, to Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg and Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours. Butterfield, op. cit. in n. 3 above, I, 77 n.

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