Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Caleb Whitefoord, 29 August 1782

To Caleb Whitefoord

ALS: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Passy, Augt. 29. 82

If you know any thing of the Character of J. Miller late Printer of the London Evening Post, as to his Honesty, Sobriety, Industry, &c. you will oblige me by communicating it.8 Yours affectionately,

B Franklin

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Whitefoord / Hotel d’Orleans, Rue des / petits Augustins / à Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8BF knew John Miller as the former printer of the London Evening Post; see XXIV, 45n, and Lucyle Werkmeister, The London Daily Press, 1772–1792 (Lincoln, Nebr., 1963), p. 113. More recently Miller was the printer of the London Courant, Westminster Chronicle, and Daily Advertiser. His anti-government views had earned him a series of prosecutions for libel. In November, 1781, he was sentenced to one year in prison and fined £100 for reprinting an accusation that Russian Minister Ivan Simolin was a stockjobber: Werkmeister, London Daily Press, pp. 125–6; Solomon Lutnick, The American Revolution and the British Press, 1775–1783 (Columbia, Mo., 1967), p. 179. Six months later he announced his release from prison and his reappointment as printer of that paper: London Courant, May 20, 1782. For reasons that remain mysterious, his name was dropped from the colophon after May 27.

Miller sailed to the United States from Ostend at the end of 1782, seeking asylum. He must have sought a letter of recommendation from BF, though we have no evidence that he received one. He did carry a letter from Henry Laurens, whom he had apparently met in prison, and was assisted in his journey by William Bell (who wrote to BF on [Aug. 16], above). He settled in South Carolina, where he established two newspapers and served as the state printer: Morris Papers, VII, 315–16n; Laurens Papers, XVI, 3–4.

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