Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Anthony Todd, 25 June 1783

From Anthony Todd7

LS: American Philosophical Society; copies: Public Record Office, Royal Mail Archive

General post Office June 25. 1783

Dear Sir,

I must confess I have taken a long time to acknowlege the last Letter you were pleased to write me the 24th. of March 1776 from New York.8 I am happy however to learn from my Nephew Mr. George Maddison9 that you enjoy good health and that as the French were about to establish five Packet Boats at L’Orient for the purpose of a Monthly Correspondence between that Port and New York,1 you were desirous of knowing the Intentions of England on that Subject.

I am going out of Town for a few days and do not write to you quite officially at present, but I can venture to assure you, it is the Wish of His Majesty’s Post Master General2 to continue the Communication with New York by the Packet Boats, and that the Mails should be dispatched both to and from that place, the first Wednesday in every Month as at present, and to appoint an Agent to reside at New York, for the management of the Business there.

If this should meet your Ideas, very little Regulation will be necessary for carrying on the Correspondence with the United States, after New York has been evacuated, as the Packet Postage of 1 sh [shilling] for single Letters and so in proportion, as settled by Act of Parliament, must be continued, but I do not know how far it might be of Advantage to both Countries, to leave it, as at present, to the option of the Writer to pay or not the Postage beforehand, and keep accounts on both sides of the internal Postage up to London and to New York, and therefore I should be glad to be favoured with your Sentiments fully upon this point, or upon any other, not doubting from my long experience of your Candour and Abilities, that every thing will be easily adjusted to the reciprocal Advantage of both Countries.

When any Arrangement may be settled, it will be necessary to apprise the public by Advertisement, that Letters to and from any parts of the Continent of Europe, must of necessity be inclosed to some Correspondent in London to avoid a variety of difficulties on account of the Postage.

I send you herewith in a seperate Packet, at Mr. Maddison’s Request, a Collection of the Post Office Statutes with some other papers, and should be glad for my own curiosity to know what kind of Packets the French propose to employ, Ours are about 200 Tons, coppered, and thirty Men Officers included.3

I am, Dear Sir, with the greatest Truth and Respect, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

Anth Todd Secy

Dr. Franklin Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Secretary of the General Post Office: X, 217n; ODNB. BF mislaid this letter, and Todd sent a duplicate on Aug. 22 (below).

8Actually, March 29: XXII, 392–4.

9Who wrote to Todd on June 18: Kenneth Ellis, The Post Office in the Eighteenth Century: a Study in Administrative History (London, New York, Toronto, 1958), p. 94n.

1The decision would not become official until June 28; see BF to Morris, July 27.

2There were two joint postmasters general: Henry Frederick Thynne, who in 1776 had taken the name Carteret, and Thomas Foley, Baron Foley. Todd, however, ran the daily operations of the post office: Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 446; III, 531; Ellis, Post Office, pp. 12, 91–3.

3Among BF’s papers at the APS is a copy of General Instructions for Deputy Postmasters (London, 1782), a 19-page pamphlet issued by the General Post Office. This may have been one of the items Todd enclosed. As for the British packets, they are elsewhere described as 170 tons each, carrying a crew of 28, with six passenger cabins: Brian Lavery, Nelson’s Navy: the Ships, Men and Organisation, 1793–1815 (London and Annapolis, 1989), p. 277. The packet service itself is discussed in Ellis, Post Office, pp. 34–7; for BF’s recollection see XXXIX, 425–6.

Index Entries