Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 5 July 1775

To William Strahan

ALS: Library of Congress; copy:9 Pierpont Morgan Library

This famous letter was unquestionably not sent. The positive evidence is that the original remained with Franklin’s papers. The negative evidence is that Strahan later gave no sign that he had received such a blast: when he responded on September 6 to a letter, now lost, from Franklin two days after this one, and when he wrote again on October 4, he showed the pain and sorrow that one friend reserves for the other’s delusions, and also the implicit assumption that the relationship remained intact. On the rare occasions when Franklin lost his temper he was likely to recover it quickly.1 This outburst was an example in point: it relieved his rage at what was happening, and went no further.

Philada. July 5. 1775

Mr. Strahan,

You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my Country to Destruction. You have begun to burn our Towns, and murder our People. Look upon your Hands! They are stained with the Blood of your Relations! You and I were long Friends: You are now my Enemy, and I am, Yours,

B Franklin

Notation: Letter to Mr Strahan July 5. 75.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The copy, which is in what appears to be a later hand, is of unknown provenance; it was inserted in a volume of BF letters formerly owned by Samuel Pennypacker, but was apparently not part of that collection. The wording differs from the ALS in minor details, as if the copy had been derived from an earlier draft.

1For an example see above, XXI, 526–9.

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