Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Cochran, 6 July 1781

From Mary Cochran3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia July 6: 1781

Worthy Sir/

Having left my Native Land in quest of Peace, I arrived in Philadelphia three weeks agoe—and as Mr. Cochran had a letter from you of a very old date, brought by a Carolina Gentn. who return’d by way of the N’ward some time after the Town capitulated; I take the liberty to send you by this oppertunity a few lines to thank you for any favor shewn my dear Child—and for the good oppinion you are pleased to have of his disposition and genious,4 I hope Sr. he has continued to merit your friendship as the unhappy situation we have been in prevented our having the satisfaction of sending him a letter; and intirely put it out of Mr. Cochran’s power of remitting the payment for his schooling, which added much to my uneaseyness, fearing he might be ill treated on acct. of it—shoud it be convenient Sr. I shall be extreemly oblidged to you, if you will inform Mr. Le Cuire5 that he may depend on every farthing being paid with honor and with thanks, and every kindness My Son receives will be greatfully acknowledged—

I make no doubt you were acquainted of those prisoners sent from Charles Town to St Augustine—6 Mr. Cochran was One of the number in the first Ship, almost eleven months has elapsed since he has been cruelly seperated from me, which consequently occasion’d my family to experience many difficulties; but now I am in a place of liberty, I shall endeavour to be as contended as possible, till one of the best of Husbands is again restored to me—which our Leiutt. Governor Mr. Bee7 tells me will be very shortly as the exchange is agreed on; Heaven grant it may be true. I find every kind of provision here exceeding plenty and cheap, in Carolina just the reverse, very scarce, and very dear— I immagin Mr. Cochran will visit France as soon as he can after he is released— I have only to add my sincere wish for your Health and Happiness, and with the greates respect Sr. Subscribe myself your Oblidged Hble Servt

Mary Cochran

Addressed: His Excellency Dr. Franklin / Minister Plenipo: to the United States / at the Court / of Versailles—

Notation: Mrs Cochran July 6. 1781.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Mary Elliot Cochran was the wife of Robert Cochran, South Carolina shipyard owner and captain: XXIII, 38n; XXVII, 262–3. Their son Charles was BFB’s best friend, and was still enrolled in the pension in Passy that BFB had attended: XXX, 241; XXXIII, 327.

4BF had written a reassuring note to Robert Cochran on June 12, 1779, calling Charles “truely a fine Boy, ingenious, active, industrious, and capable of any Improvement you may think fit to bestow upon him in his Education”: XXIX, 675.

5Le Coeur, the schoolmaster: XXV, 91–2.

6Cochran must have been one of the twenty-nine prominent South Carolinians who were confined to a prison ship and later exiled to St. Augustine, Fla., after refusing to swear allegiance to the British king following the capture of Charleston: Richard K. Showman, et al., eds., The Papers of General Nathanael Greene (10 vols. to date; Chapel Hill and London, 1976–), VI, 311n.

7Thomas Bee (1725–1812) of Charleston, a delegate to Congress from South Carolina and lieutenant governor of the state in 1779 and 1780: Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774–1961 (Washington, D.C., 1961).

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