Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Fothergill, 19 March 1775

From John Fothergill

ALS and extract:5 Library of Congress

½ past 10 [March 19, 17756]

Dear Dr.

Be kind enough to take the charge of the inclosed and convey them at thy leisure. [Deleted] is a staunch Anti American. I have received a letter from him to day by way of Liverpool which hurts me much.7 Get him, Jas. Pemberton and two or three more together, and inform them, that whatever specious pretences are offerd, they are all hollow and that to get a larger field on which to fatten a herd of worthless parasites is all that is regarded.

Perhaps it may be proper to acquaint them with D.B’s and our united endeavours, and the effects. They will stun at least, if not convince the most courtly,8 that nothing very favourable is intended, if more unfavourable articles cannot be obtained. Pray is Sir John Pringle a thorough Anti American? 9 Tho’ for answering this idle question, I will not put my Friend to the trouble of an Answer in his last moments. Farewel, and befriend this infant, growing empire with the utmost exertion of thy abilitys, and no less philanthropy, both which are beyond my powers to express. A happy prosperous voyage! Pray see Betsy Ferguson sometime,10 and tell her she must trust me for a letter till summer.

J Fothergill

Addressed: For / Dr. Franklin.1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5The first is among BF’s papers, and the second is in his journal of negotiations below, March 22.

6BF received the letter the evening before his departure from London: below, p. 599.

7The name is too thoroughly crossed out to be decipherable, but the letter was from William Logan (for whom see above, XII, 97 n); Fothergill’s reply to it is printed in Betsy C. Corner and Christopher C. Booth, eds., Chain of Friendship: Selected Letters of Dr. John Fothergill … (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), pp. 447–8.

8The Quakers most friendly to administration. In his extract BF misread the adjective as “wurthy,” which twisted Fothergill’s meaning.

9He was far from it. A few weeks later he impressed his friend Boswell by arguing that the Americans had been condemned without a hearing; they would throw off British authority only if forced to, and the present measures were forcing them. Charles Ryskamp and Frederick A. Pottle, eds., Boswell: the Ominous Years, 1774–1776 (New York, etc., [1963]), p. 122. Although Pringle was the King’s physician, he clearly had a Scot’s independence of mind.

10Elizabeth Graeme Ferguson, who has appeared in previous volumes under her maiden name, had long known Fothergill. She had married Henry Ferguson in 1772; he turned out to be a ne’er-do-well. Corner and Booth, op. cit., p. 450 n.

1On the same page are two sets of penciled notes in BF’s hand, which have been kindly deciphered for us by Dr. Paul H. Smith of the Library of Congress. What appears to be the earlier set reads: “The Regulation of Trade threefold / 1 For the common Benefit of the whole / 2 For the Benefit of Britain / 3 To the Prejudice of the Colonies / The first agreed 2d and 3d deny’d / Americans in America not bound by Parl[iament.] / When in England they are, or in any Dominion of England.” The second set, which seems to relate to BF’s concerns months later in Philadelphia, reads: “Instructions / Ammunition and [Stores?] / Marsh. Saxe’s Opinions / The Party that has most Sence Should make the first Concess[ion?] / Right to Regulate, for common [good?] for 100 years.” This final note is explained in BF’s Vindication below, under July 21, 1775.

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