Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Emanuel Wolleb-Ryhiner, 3 January 1778: résumé

From Emanuel Wolleb-Ryhiner5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Basel, January 3, 1778: I have seen in the Pennsylvania constitutions, sections 38 and 39,6 that you intend to reform the penal laws to render them less savage, and gladly send you the enclosed pamphlet on the same subject; hatred of cruelty and the desire for clement correction guide the author. My birth and duty as a republican commit me to hating violence and promoting humane treatment of criminals. The same principles, I hope, will prevail in more important areas, and will repel “the rough wind of North.” Hail to you and our future brothers, especially if our latest news from Paris is true. I am a most devoted friend and servant, “as a gray man of 72 years,” to you and all republicans.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5A doctor of jurisprudence and a philosophical and satirical writer (1706–88), who two decades before had edited Der Helvetische Patriot and was at this time chief magistrate of Basel and a member of its council. Dictionnaire historique et biographique de la Suisse. If the pamphlet he enclosed was his own, we have failed to locate it.

6Section 38 of the frame of government (above, XXII, 513) provided for reforming the penal code to make the penalty better fit the crime, and section 39 for punishing by hard labor in workhouses.

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