Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from a Committee of the Library Company of Philadelphia, [16 December 1774]

From a Committee of the Library Company of Philadelphia

Minutebook copy: Library Company of Philadelphia

Philadelphia [December 16, 17741]


We are directed to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 7 April and 25 July with the Books sent for the Use of our Company, which fresh Instance, of your constant kind Concern for Us is very obliging; but we must just observe, that the prices of those last sent, are not mentioned.

Inclosed, you have Barclay & Mitchell’s Draught at sixty Days Sight on David Hay Esqr: & Co: for £60 Sterg: in favor of Josiah Hewes, and by Him indorsed.2 There will remain a Small Ballance in our favor, which you will be kind enough to lay out for the most esteemed Tracts published relative to the present American Controversy.

The Directors were preparing an Order for Books; but from the present unhappy Situation of publick Affairs, it must be postponed. Wishing for Days more propitious to the Growth of Science in America we remain with great regard Sir your most obedient Servants

signed by the Committee

Dr: B. Franklin

1The letter, undated, appears in the minutes of the Company for Jan. 10, 1775. BF’s note below, Feb. 5, acknowledged a letter of Dec. 16 enclosing the bill of exchange mentioned here; we therefore assume that he was acknowledging this letter. But if so the secretary sent it again, in identical wording but dated March 4, 1775; see Robeson’s covering note below of that date. It is conceivable, though in our opinion most unlikely, that the December letter enclosed the first bill and is now lost, and that this was composed in January and sent in March, enclosing a second bill. But in that case why is the bill not so described, and why are BF’s earlier letters acknowledged here rather than in December, when we know that the Company wrote him?

2Thomas Barclay and William Mitchell were co-owners of a number of ships in Philadelphia; see the registers in PMHB, XXVIII (1904), 218 et seq. About Mitchell nothing seems to be known, but Barclay (1728–93) later acquired some prominence as an American consul. See R. Burnham Moffat, The Barclays of New York ... (New York, 1904), pp. 234, 345; Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date, Princeton, 1950-), XI, 493–500 n. For the London merchant, David Harvey (the copyist confused the name, but BF’s acknowledgment did not), see above, XX, 220 n; and for Josiah Hewes XIX, 152 n.

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