Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Hare, Jr., 23 February 1782

From Richard Hare, Jr.9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Cork 23d. Feb 1782

May it please your Excellency

I am inclined to hope your Excellency will pardon the Liberty I have taken in addressing a few Lines to you, which I expect will be deliver’d by Mr. Whipple or Capt Lewis,1 either of whom can inform your Excellency the cause that has prompted me to presume to address a person of your Rank— The Sufferings of a number of our unfortunate Brethren, whom the Fortune of Warr have thrown into the Hands of People, void of Humanity, can better be releated by either of the above Gentlemen, than in the power of my pen to releat near two hundred are at present confined in a wretched prison, many of whom would have perished the past Winter but for a small subscription raised in this place by a few Individuals.2

Your Excellency will be pleased to take their pityable case into your serious Consideration & endeavour to have an Exchange effected, which, if speedily done, may be the means of saveing the Lives of a number of brave, tho’ unfortunate Men— I should think myself happy in haveing the Honr. of a Line from your Excellency convey’d thro a safe channell & shall think myself thrice happy by being honour’d, in the distribution of any sum, that I may receive directions to distribute among those unfortunate people.

I have the Honor to be Yr. Excellencys Most Obedt. & Hble Servt.

Richard Hare Junr:

Notation: Hare Junr. Richard, Cork 23. Feby. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9A merchant and captain of the Cork Artillery corps of the 1782 volunteers: information kindly provided by Diarmuid Ó Murchadha of the Cork Historical and Archæological Society. See also James O’Donovan, “The Anatomy of the Volunteers in Cork, 1775–82,” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archœological Society, 2nd ser., LXXXVII (1982), 26–42, 118–127.

1Job Whipple and Elijah Lewis, who had escaped from the Kinsale prison. They were in Nantes by March 24, when they wrote BF on behalf of the men still incarcerated (APS).

2In the winter of 1781 / 82 Americans at Kinsale were subjected to such cruelty and deprivation, and were dying at such high rates, that local residents took up their cause. A letter from “Benevolus” to the Cork Hibernian Chronicle on Feb. 28 provoked a published exchange on prison conditions which publicized the facts. Rev. William Hazlitt and Quaker merchant Reuben Harvey were the chief activists, helping to organize a subscription for the prisoners as well as assisting them to escape: Reuben Harvey to the American Peace Commissioners, Feb. 10, 1783 (National Archives); C.J.F. MacCarthy, “The American Prisoners at Kinsale,” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archœological Society, 2nd ser., XCIV (1989), 46–51; Sheldon S. Cohen, “Reuben Harvey: Irish Friend of American Freedom,” Quaker History, LXXXVIII (1999), 22–32; Ernest J. Moyne, “The Reverend William Hazlitt: A Friend of Liberty in Ireland During the American Revolution,” W&MQ, 3rd ser., XXI (1964) 288–97.

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