Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Winthrop, 28 March 1775

From John Winthrop

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

Cambridge New England 28 March 1775

Dear Sir

I did my self the honor to write you, 13 Septr last, by Mr. Quincy, acknowleging the receit of several curious Pamphlets, for which am much obliged to you, and beg the favor of you to present my respectful Compliments to Sir John Pringle, and Mr. Henley, for the particular honor they have done me, in sending me their curious Productions. Since that, I have received the last Vol. of the Philosophical Transactions,1 for which I return you my thanks. I must confess, I was not a little mortified, when I opened the package, in not finding a line from my ever honored Friend, whose correspondence always gives me the greatest pleasure. Whether it were occasioned by the multiplicity of most important affairs, in which I know you are involved; or, whether any Letter of yours has been intercepted, I am not able to say. My suspicion of the last has been strengthned by the circumstances, in which the last Vol. of Transactions came to my hand. It was only tied up loosely in a brown paper cover, without any seal.

However the case may be, I cannot neglect so good an opportunity as now offers, of paying my respects to You. My neighbour, Francis Dana Esq, is embarking for London. He was a Gentleman of the Law in this town, while there was any Law; a modest, sensible, intelligent person, and a true Friend to Liberty. He had the firmness to oppose the address to Mr. H. when it was in agitation among the Lawyers.2 I need say nothing of the situation of our public affairs, as Mr. Dana will be able to give you full information. I cannot, however, forbear observing, to the honor of the people of this Province, that ever since the resignation of the Mandamus Councillors,3 they have been as quiet and peaceable as any Colony on the Continent, tho’ under a total suspension of government, and an accumulation of grievances. We are now in a state of the most anxious suspense, but preparing for the worst. God send better times!

I have desired Mr. Dana to deliver you 52 s. sterl. for another annual payment to the Royal Society. With sentiments of the highest respect and esteem I am Sir Your most obliged humble Servant

John Winthrop

Dr Franklin.

Addressed: Benjamin Franklin Esq / London / Favord by Fras Dana Esq

Notation: John Winthrop to Dr Franklin 1775.

1Part 2, we assume, of Phil. Trans., LXIV (1774). The disappearance of Winthrop’s earlier letter makes the pamphlets impossible to identify, but in all likelihood two of them were Pringle’s Discourse on the Different Kinds of Air . . . (above, XXI, 148) and a paper by William Henly read before the Royal Society and reprinted separately, in which the author referred to Winthrop’s observations on lightning: Phil. Trans., LXIV, 146–7.

2For Dana’s mission see the note on Quincy’s letter above, March 25. The address to Hutchinson from a number of lawyers on the eve of the Governor’s departure, May 29, 1774, may be found in Force, 4 Amer. Arch., I, 363.

3Those appointed by the crown under the Massachusetts Government Act. By the previous September twenty out of thirty-six had either initially refused the oath or later resigned: Boston Gaz., Sept. 5, 1774. Some new appointments were made in London, but by December the Council existed only in name. “The taking any Step by their Advice,” the Governor reported to Dartmouth, “would add no weight to the Authority of Government, but rather be an Argument for Disobedience.” Carter, Gage Correspondence, I, 387; see also pp. 364–5, 370, 372–3.

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