Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Thornton, 6 April 1782

From John Thornton4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Clapham 6th April 1782


My Friend Joseph Walker Esq having acquainted me with his intention of visiting paris;5 I thought I might avail of myself of that opportunity of getting some Letters to America thro your benevolence.

If I am deemed impertinent, I hope you’l attribute it, to the true Cause; the opinion I have of Dr Franklins Candour, & the desire I have not to be intirely blotted out of the Mind of those at a great distance I much esteem. I have left them open as I thought they would pass best so & they contain nothing that can I hope, offend any one.

I remember once paying my respects to you many years since, I shall be happy to see the day when I can do it again & apologise in person for this intrusion from sir Your very hum servt

John Thornton

P.S. Permit me to request your acceptance of some poems of a friend of mine who has been many years excluded from the World, as not being in his right Mind & considers himself as a Non Entity & reads nothing beyond a News paper, & yet he wrote the most of these poems last Year.6

Dr Franklin

Notation: Thorton, 6. april 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Thornton (1720–1790), the heir to a large fortune, was a prominent merchant and “munificent” philanthropist, who generously supported Evangelical causes: DNB under Henry Thornton (John’s son); Donald M. Lewis, ed., The Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1730–1860 (2 vols., Oxford and Cambridge, Mass., 1995), II, 1103–4.

5According to Matthew Ridley, Walker was the son of a Yorkshire iron master who came to France “for the purpose of learning what is said about peace”: Matthew Ridley’s Journal, entry for May 6, 1782 (Mass. Hist. Soc.).

6Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq. (London, 1782). For Cowper (1731–1800), to whom Thornton provided financial assistance, see the DNB.

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