Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Priestley, 3 October 1775: extract

To Joseph Priestley3

Extract printed in Benjamin Vaughan, ed., Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces . . . Written by Benj. Franklin . . . (London, 1779), pp. 365–6.

Philadelphia, 3d Octob. 1775.

Dear Sir,

I am to set out to-morrow for the camp,4 and having but just heard of this opportunity, can only write a line to say that I am well and hearty. Tell our dear good friend . . .,5 who sometimes has his doubts and despondencies about our firmness, that America is determined and unanimous; a very few tories and placemen excepted, who will probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expence of three millions, has killed 150 Yankies this campaign, which is £20,000 a head; and at Bunker’s Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill.6 During the same time 60,000 children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and expence necessary to kill us all, and conquer our whole territory.7 My sincere respects to . . ., and to the club of honest whigs at.. . .8 Adieu. I am ever Yours most affectionately,

B. F.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3WTF again identified the recipient, as in the letters to Priestley above of May 16 and July 7, in a MS note on a proof sheet of Philosophical Pieces, Library of Congress.

4Vaughan here added a note to explain BF’s visit to Washington, for which see the minutes of the conference below under Oct. 18, 1775.

5Here WTF, in another MS note, identified the friend as Dr. Price.

6In August the British were supposedly preparing to occupy Ploughed Hill in order to control the low ground between it and Bunker. On the 26th the Americans forestalled them, and erected a battery that could dispute the ground with the enemy: Freeman, Washington, III, 519.

7For a variation on these data, also intended for Richard Price, see the extract of BF’s letter to a friend in London above, under Oct. 3.

8The London Coffeehouse: above, XI, 98 n.

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