Benjamin Franklin Papers

List of Letters to Write, [c. 1 January 1784?]

List of Letters to Write3

AD:4 American Philosophical Society

[c. January 1, 1784?]

Lettres à ecrire

Chev. de Karalio5

M. de Breteuil6

Mr. le Chancelier

Mr Chase

M. de Vergennes7

Mr Todd8

Quy. what is become of the Post-Office Negn

Chevr d’Osmont9

M. Lamy1

Made Chaumont



R Peters Esqr4


Miss Davies6

Amelia Barry—7

M. Le Noir8

New Stove9

Dr Ingenhausz1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3BF occasionally apologized to his friends for being a poor correspondent; see his Dec. 24 letter to Ingenhousz, for example. This list, which he compiled in at least three stages, using different inks, may have been written around the New Year. It contains names of people to whom he owed responses, and names of people and topics that indicate letters that he himself wished to write. Because BF believed that he would soon receive Congress’ permission to return to America, this uncharacteristic effort at organization may have been an attempt to tie up loose ends.

Only one entry is crossed out: “Mr Chase,” to whom BF wrote on Jan. 6, 1784. We identify below the letters to which we believe BF was planning to respond. Unless otherwise noted, those responses have not been found.

BF wrote this list next to, and curving around, a crude sketch of what appears to be a kind of balloon.

4On the verso of this sheet, along the left margin, BF wrote a geometric sequence of 32 numbers beginning with one and multiplying each time by two, ending with 2,121,883,648. This was the same sequence he employed in his calculation of descendants of knights of the Cincinnati carried down to the ninth generation; see BF to SB, Jan. 26. Elsewhere on the sheet BF took the penultimate number in the sequence and divided it by 12.

5Kéralio’s most recent letter was dated Nov. 30.

6Breteuil wrote on Dec. 26 and 31 regarding the case against John Shaffer. In the latter, Breteuil suggested that BF ask Miromesnil for help. In addition to being grade des sceaux, Miromesnil served as chancellor, so the following entry might refer to him: XXI, 536n.

7On Jan. 12, BF responded to Vergennes’ letter of Dec. 3.

8Anthony Todd’s letter of Nov. 18 required no answer. BF evidently wanted to inquire about the progress of the postal-service contract negotiations.

9We summarize the Dec. 9 letter from the chevalier d’Osmont and his sister in the headnote to Bouttret Durivault’s letter of Dec. 12.

1Lamy’s letters of Nov. 4 and Dec. 24 are summarized in the headnote to Maupin’s letter of Jan. 13.

2Bonnefoy wrote on Dec. 19.

3BF copied the address of the Hamburg government on a dinner invitation from the Jays of Feb. 3; see our annotation there.

4Richard Peters wrote two letters in December, 1780; XXXIV, 165–6. On Oct. 7, 1785, he complained of not having received a letter from BF since 1779 (APS).

5Most likely a reference to BF’s election to the Accademia Reale delle Scienze in Turin, announced in Gian Francesco Cigna’s letter of July 28, 1783. BF did not reply until July 5, 1785: XL, 409–10.

6Mary Ann Davies wrote on Oct. 17.

7The most recent letter from Amelia Barry was dated Feb. 21, 1783: XXXIX, 192–4. BF wrote her a now-missing response on Sept. 20, 1784: Barry to BF, Dec. 10, 1784 (APS).

8Lenoir wrote on Dec. 4.

9The subject of Lenoir’s letter. BF finally wrote “Description of a new Stove” on his voyage home in the summer of 1785: see the annotation of Lenoir to BF, Dec. 4.

1BF wrote to Ingenhousz on Jan. 16, but did not respond fully to the backlog of Ingenhousz’ letters until April 29, 1785 (Library of Congress).

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