Benjamin Franklin Papers

Note on Franklin’s Final Account with the General Post Office, [May 1774]

Note on Franklin’s Final Account with the General Post Office

[May, 1774.]

Among Franklin’s papers in the American Philosophical Society are two copies, one in his hand, of his account with the Post Office from 1769 to 1774.3 The last items he mentions were for May, 1774, and he noted on his copy that he delivered the account on Dec. 5, 1774. On the debtor side are payments to Robert Trevor, receiver general of the Post Office,4 totaling £5431 19s. 10d. A charge for post horns of £1 1s. in 1770 is supplemented by another of £10 18s. 3d. that had been omitted in March, 1764.5 One Ann Pennock received £6 12s. 6d. in 1771 for stamps, presumably for postmarking. Protested bills and charges for them came to £640 6s. 6d.6 Franklin’s annual salary was £300 for four and a half years from Oct. 5, 1769, or £1350. A balance remained of £973 0s. 5d.7 On the creditor side are remittances from Alexander Colden, the American comptroller, for the five years beginning in May, 1769, £7371 12s. 10¼d., and a total payment to Deborah Franklin from the Philadelphia post office, Sept. 28, 1769, to March 26, 1774, of £1042 5s.d.8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3A similar sheet of BF’s and John Foxcroft’s accounts, also in BF’s hand but covering only 1770–72, was reproduced in facsimile in the catalogue of the Hanzel Galleries’ sale on Sept. 23–24, 1973, and is now in the possession of Mr. Alvin R. Kantor, Chicago. It repeats much of the information discussed here, and adds details of Foxcroft’s traveling expenses, salary, and receipts.

4Above, X, 222 n.

5Presumably in the accounts printed above, XI, 249–51. The Post Office later refused to pay for horns (above, XX, 74), but BF included them anyhow. For the bookkeeping method employed in such accounts see XI, 519–20.

6The bills were those listed above, XIX, 375; XX, 15, 19, 33, 225, 338. The charges, which had nothing to do with the amount of the bill protested, were usually 5s. 9d. but once as much as £1. 5s. 8d.

7Which BF could not settle when he delivered the account in December because, thanks to Foxcroft, it was not in order; settlement was still hanging fire when BF sailed for home. See below, Todd to Foxcroft and Finlay, Dec. 9, Todd to BF and his reply, March 17, 18, 1775. BF’s Ledger contains evidence, which will be printed in due course, of what as far as we now know was his final—and unsuccessful—attempt to pay the £973 0s. 5d. in October, 1776, just before he sailed for France.

8See above, XVIII, 91; XIX, 415 n.

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