Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Josiah Quincy, Sr., 11 September 1783

To Josiah Quincy, Sr.5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Passy, Sept. 11. 1783.—

My dear Friend,

Mr Storer told me not long since that you complain’d of my not writing to you.6 You had reason; for I find among your Letters to me two unanswered, viz. those of May 25, and Dec. 17. 1781.7 The Truth is, I have had too much Business to do for the Publick, and too little Help allow’d me; so that it became impossible for me to keep up my private Correspondencies. I promis’d myself more Leisure when the Definitive Treaty of Peace should be concluded: But that it seems is to be followed by a Treaty of Commerce, which will probably take up a good deal of Time & require much Attention. I seize this little Interim to sit down & have a little Chat with my Friends in America.—

I lament with you the many Mischiefs, the Injustices, the Corruption of Manners, &c &c that attended a depreciating Currency. It is some Consolation to me that I wash’d my Hands of that Evil by predicting it in Congress, and proposing Means that would have been effectual to prevent it if they had been adopted.8 Subsequent Operations that I have executed, demonstrate that my Plan was practicable. But it was unfortunately rejected. Considering all our Mistakes and Mismanagements, it is wonderful we have finish’d our Affair so well, and so soon! Indeed I am wrong in using that Expression, We have finish’d our Affairs so well. Our Blunders have been many, and they serve to manifest the Hand of Providence more clearly in our Favour; so that we may much more properly say, These are THY Doings, O Lord, and they are marvellous in our Eyes!9

Mr. Storer, whom you recommended to me is now in England. He needed none of the Advice you desired me to give him. His Behaviour here was unexceptionable, and he gain’d the Esteem of all that knew him.—

The Epitaph on my dear and much esteemed young Friend, is too well written to be capable of Improvement by any Corrections of mine.— Your Moderation appears in it, since the natural Affection of a Parent has not induc’d you to exaggerate his Virtues. I shall always mourn his Loss with you; a Loss not easily made up to his Country.1

How differently constituted was his noble and generous Mind from that of the miserable Calumniators you mention! Having Plenty of Merit in himself, he was not jealous of the Appearance of Merit in others, but did Justice to their Characters with as much Pleasure as these People do Injury. It is now near two Years since your Friendship induc’d you to acquaint me with some of their Accusations. I guess’d easily at the Quarter from whence they came; but conscious of my Innocence, and unwilling to disturb public Operations by private Resentments or Contentions, I pass’d them over in Silence; and have not till within these few days taken the least Step towards my Vindication. Inform’d that the Practice of abusing me continues, and that some heavy Charges are lately made against me respecting my Conduct in the Treaty, written from Paris and propagated among you; I have demanded of all my Colleagues that they do me Justice, and I have no doubt of receiving it, from each of them.— I did not think it necessary to justify my self to you; by answering the Calumnies you mention’d. I knew you did not believe them. It was improbable that I should at this Distance combine with any body to urge the Redemption of the Paper on those unjust Terms, having no Interest in such Redemption. It was impossible that I should have traded with the Public Money, since I had not traded with any Money, either separately or jointly with any other Person, directly or indirectly to the Value of a Shilling, since my being in France. And the Fishery which it was said I had relinquished, had not then come in question, nor had I ever dropt a Syllable to that purpose in Word or Writing: but I was always firm in this Principle, that having had a common Right with the English to the Fisheries while connected with that Nation, and having contributed equally with our Blood and Treasure in conquering what had been gain’d from the French, we had an undoubted Right on breaking up our Partnership, to a fair Division.— As to the two Charges of Age and Weakness, I must confess the first; but I am not quite so clear in the latter; and perhaps my Adversaries may find that they presum’d a little too much upon it when they ventur’d to attack me.

But enough of these petty Personalities. I quit them to rejoice with you in the Peace God has blest us with, and in the Prosperity it gives us a Prospect of. The Definitive Treaty was signed the third Instant. We are now Friends with England and with all Mankind. May we never see another War! for in my Opinion there never was a good War, or a bad Peace. Adieu, & believe me ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Honble. Josiah Quincey Esqe—

Notation: Dr. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This is BF’s final letter to his old friend, who died the following March: Adams Correspondence, V, 305n.

6The last letter of which we have a record is from 1779: XXIX, 358–9. Charles Storer, who had ceased duties as JA’s secretary in July, was a correspondent of Quincy’s: Adams Correspondence, V, IX, 148n.

7Neither of which has been located.

8BF detailed these in a 1779 letter to Samuel Cooper: XXIX, 355–6.

9Psalms 118:23.

1Josiah Quincy, Jr. (XXI, 283n), an ardent young patriot who went to London in the winter of 1774–75 and got to know BF well, became ill in England and died on the return voyage: XXI, 513.

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