Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Charles and Edward Dilly, 25 March 1774

To Charles and Edward Dilly6

ALS: Yale University Library

Cravenstreet, March 25. 1774


The Bearer Mr. James Adair is well recommended to me from America, as a Person of Credit and Veracity, whose Accounts of what he has seen among the Indians of various Nations with whom he traded and resided many Years, may be relied on. He has a M.S. of his own Composing on Indian Affairs, Customs, Manners, Opinions, &c. which contains many curious particulars; and if the whole should not be thought fit for the Press, yet I imagine a judicious Abridgment of it might be entertaining and of course saleable. He wishes to sell it, and would take perhaps the greatest Part of what it may be thought worth in the printed Copies of it.7 I have recommended you to him as honourable Dealers, and who can afford, from your extensive Connections of Business, to give him as much for it as any of the Trade. With great Esteem, and sincere Wishes for your Prosperity, I am, Gentlemen, Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Messrs. Dilly / Booksellers / Poultry

Endorsed: Dr Franklin
Dr Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For the famous London booksellers see the DNB.

7James Adair had been working on his book for years. In 1769 Joseph Galloway gave him a letter of recommendation to BF, and assumed that he was about to sail to England; so did we. Above, XVI, 184–5. In fact he sailed to Savannah, where he wrote Sir William Johnson later in 1769; in early 1774, apparently, he was looking for advice on his MS from William Livingston, the future governor of N.J., but left hurriedly for England because of the mounting crisis. E. B. O’Callaghan, ed., The Documentary History of the State of New York … (4 vols., Albany, 1849–51), IV, 418–19; Samuel C. Williams, ed., Adair’s History of the American Indians (Johnson City, Tenn., 1930), p. xxvii. Adair must have carried with him the old recommendation from Galloway, for it is among BF’s papers in the APS. It and this letter paved the way for the author: the Dillys published his book, The History of the American Indians, Particularly Those Nations Adjoining to the Mississippi, East and West Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia … (London, 1775). It appeared in mid-May (London Chron., May 11–13), and attracted considerable attention: Scots Mag., XXXVII (1775), 323; Monthly Rev., LIV (1776), part 1, 261–8.

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