Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Johann Adolf Behrends, 28 October 1778: résumé

From Johann Adolf Behrends3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Frankfurt am Main, October 28, 1778, in Latin: I am asking my good friend Mr. Bethmann,4 who is leaving for France, to bring you this letter. It expresses my admiration for you as founder of the fatherland, doctor of the human race on the matter of bodies’ electrical energy and illustrious member of the Republic of letters; most of all it tries to convey my boundless esteem for you as a human being. I burn with desire to meet you and render any service I can. Accept my congratulations on your appointment as foreign member of the French Royal Society of Medicine. May God grant you the freedom of your country!>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3He signs himself Joann. Adolph. Behrends, M.D. Reipublicae Moeno francofurtensi Phÿsicus. Behrends (1740–1811) was appointed doctor for the city orphanage in 1782 and named first administrator at the medical institute founded by Frankfurt’s noted benefactor, Johann Christian Senckenberg. He was the author of Der Einwohner in Frankfurt in Absicht auf seine Fruchtbarkeit, Moralität und Gesundheit geschildert (Frankfurt, 1771): Biographisches Lexikon der hervorrangenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Völker, August Hirsch, ed. (6 vols., Vienna and Leipzig, 1884–88), I, 372.

4Either Johann Philipp (1715–1793), Simon Moritz (1721–1782) or Peter Heinrich Metzler (1744–1800) of the Frankfurt banking firm, Gebrüder Bethmann, which became the city’s leading competitor to the House of Rothschild: Udo Heyn, Private Banking and Industrialization: the Case of Frankfurt am Main, 1825–1875 (New York, 1981), p. 169 and passim. In an undated note, Bethmann indicates that he did stop by to see BF and JA one evening, without success, and would call again the following day. APS.

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