Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jane Mecom, 28 July 1774

To Jane Mecom

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London July 28. 1774

Dear Sister

I received your kind Letters of May the 1st and 18th. I rejoice to hear that you and yours continue in Health; as I do, Thanks to God.

The Report you mention that I offer’d to desert my Constituents, and banish myself if I might continue in Place, is an infamous Falshood, as you supposed. And as ridiculous as false, since it implies that I have not Arithmetic enough to calculate the Difference between 300 and 1000.1 They are every now and then reporting here, that I am using Means to get again into Office. Perhaps they wish I would. But they may expect it ’till Doomsday. For God knows my Heart, I would not accept the best Office the King has to bestow, while such Tyrannic Measures are taking against my Country. Be assured I shall do nothing that will prejudice me in your Opinion, or be inconsistent with the honest Public Character I have hitherto maintained. I kept my former Post indeed till it was taken from me, because I did not receive it as a Favour from Government, but rose to it in the Course of Office from Seniority join’d with Merit; I therefore thought I had a right to it; and I did not chuse to compliment them with a Resignation, rather liking that they should take upon themselves the Shame of depriving me.2 They have done me honour by turning me out, and I will take care they shall not disgrace me by putting me in again.

All this to yourself. To the World such Declarations might seem incredible, and a meer puffing of ones own Character: therefore, my dear Sister, show this to no body: I write it meerly for your Satisfaction; and that you may not be disturb’d by such Idle Reports. I am ever, Your affectionate Brother

B Franklin

The enclos’d Pamphlets were encourag’d by me, being written by Friends of mine, and printed at my Expence.3

1If such a rumor was going around Boston in May, when Jane wrote her missing letters, we have found no record of it in the press; for a considerably different rumor published in midsummer see BF’s next letter to her below, Sept. 26. His arithmetic expressed the difference, we assume, between his postal salary and the total that he thought he would receive from his agencies. But what figure he had in mind for each agency can only be conjectured, because three out of the four were in doubt. The Mass. House had voted him £300 a year and eventually paid him £400; Pennsylvania had recently cut him to £300 but, if we interpret him aright, ended by paying £500; Georgia had given him £100 for a few years and then stopped; only his £100 from New Jersey was uncontested. Above, XV, 96; XVIII, 219 n, 242 n; XIX, 209 n, 339 n; XX, 16–17; below, settlement of his account with Massachusetts, Oct. 23, 1775.

2BF had made the same point to WF about his governorship: above, Feb. 18.

3Perhaps the Priestley and Sharp pamphlets that BF had sent Cushing the day before and the Lee pamphlet, for which we know he paid, enclosed to Cushing on June 1.

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