Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to [William?] Bradford, 16 May 1775

To [William?] Bradford2

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania; draft: American Philosophical Society

Wednesday PM. May 16. [1775]

Dear Sir,

I have just now been urged to apply to you in behalf of a Stranger who is suppos’d to have spoken some disrespectful Words of you, and who is apprehensive of the Resentment of your Company, as he is told they are exceedingly exasperated against him. He declares that the Words ascrib’d to him, are much misrepresented, and that if he had an Opportunity of giving you a true Account of them, you would be satisfy’d they were merely jocular, without the least Intention of offending you or any of your Corps. I do not presume to have any Influence with you, intitling me to mediate in any Affair that concerns you.3 I only beg leave to mention, that as he is a Clergyman of the Church of England, and some pains has lately been taken in England to represent the Colonies as inimical to that Church, I hope you and the Company will on Enquiry find that the Offence is not so great as to require such Marks of Resentment as may be misconstrued there, and deemed the Effects of4 Enmity to the Clergy; because at this Juncture it might create us some powerful Enemies, increase their number, and diminish that of our Friends.5 Be so good as to excuse my giving you this Trouble, and believe me to be with sincere Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Capt. Bradford

Endorsed: Benj Franklin May 16

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The well known Philadelphia printer, who has appeared frequently in earlier volumes (see for example above, II, 315 n), was a captain in the second battalion of Philadelphia associators: Pa. Col. Recs., X, 302. At some time during the year his son Thomas also seems to have become a captain, but we have been unable to discover when; see the Decennial Register of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution (Philadelphia, 1898), p. 258. The younger man had just passed his thirtieth birthday (see the DAB), and BF could have been writing to him. But we do not know that he was yet commissioned, and do know that his father was; hence our guess that the latter was the recipient.

3Ever since the Stamp Act William Bradford and BF had been on bad terms; see above, XVI, 35.

4The draft here inserts “a Spirit of Intolerance and.”

5We cannot confidently identify the worried cleric. All the known Anglican clergymen in Pennsylvania in 1775 had been there too long to qualify as strangers; see Edgar L. Pennington, “The Anglican Clergy of Pennsylvania in the American Revolution,” PMHB, LXIII (1939), 414. The most likely candidate is a missionary whom the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had sent to a nearby parish in Delaware. This was Sydenham Thorne (1748?–93), who had arrived and been ordained a few months before, and was soon in hot water because of his Loyalist leanings; see Nelson W. Rightmyer, The Anglican Church in Delaware (Philadelphia, [1947]), pp. 66–7, 169.

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