Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, Jr., 29 March 1776

To Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New York, March 29. 1776.

Dear Nephew,

I have not written to you for some time, partly from the Difficulty of Corresponding, and partly because I understood from yours of September last that you purposed a Voyage to the West Indies, and I expected to hear of you from thence. Mr. Wm Temple who arrived lately in the Packet, tells me, that you are settled down in England for Life, and have no Thoughts of ever again visiting America.4 Are you married to that sweet Girl? Or are you satisfy’d with the Sweets of the Sugar House which he tells me you are engag’d in?5 Or are you turned Tory? When you have an Opportunity, if there is ever to be another, let me know that you are well and happy; which will be a great Pleasure to Your affectionate Uncle

B Franklin

[In the margin:] I write this upon New York Paper. Look thro’ it and you will see the Stamp.

I am here in my Way to Canada: Quite well and hearty. My best Respects to Mr. Alexander &c.

Addressed: To / Mr Jonathan Williams / at the New England / Coffeehouse near the ‘Change / London

Endorsed: Doctr. Franklin N York 29 Mar. 1776.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The disappearance of the September letter leaves us in the dark about the trip to the Caribbean. William Temple (1735–86), John’s brother, was a friend of Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, and had served for a time on his council. Jere R. Daniell, Experiment in Republicanism: New Hampshire Politics and the American Revolution . . . (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), p. 18; Temple Prime, Some Account of the Temple Family: Appendix . . . (New York, 1899), p. 117; Ogden Codman, Index of Obituaries in Boston Newspapers . . . (3 vols., Boston, 1968), III, 448. Temple sailed on Jan. 10 and arrived in New York in early March: Pa. Gaz., March 13, 1776. He went on at once to Philadelphia, where he created a stir in Congress by producing two letters from Arthur Lee: Smith, Letters, III, 384, 409. Temple presumably brought BF news of Mrs. Stevenson as well as of JW, and perhaps the large parcel that she had mentioned in her letter to BF above, Nov. 16.

5See JW to BF above, Nov. 23. We believe that that letter was intercepted; if so he must have said much the same thing in his missing September letter.

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