Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Sr., 15 January 1784

From Jonathan Williams, Sr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Janry 15th. 1784—

Hond sr—

I hope you Will excuse me, for the Liberty I take in adviceing you, of the Town of Franklin, & how it Came to be thus Named, a part of the people of Wrentham Wh. Town was too Large, a parish of 40 years Standing prefer’d a petition to the General Court 1778 at the Very time, that we or they, heard that you was Assassinated, in Commeration [commemoration] of Doctr Franklin the people Where Unanimous, in Nameing there Town by the Name of Franklin, Whos Name & Person they highly Esteemd,4 the Town or people are Now about Boulding a New Meeting House,5 & I find they would Bould a Stepel if they had a prospect of Gitting a Bell. I happn’d to be in Compeny with two of the most Respectable & of the Commette, they Expressd a Wish that Doctr Franklin Would present them a Bell, as it would be Recd by the Town from him in prefrence to anybody in the World— I find the house is to be, 60 foot Long, 42 foot Wide, about 26 foot high. Franklin Town is 25 Miles from Boston in the Way to providence—as I dont know Whether you Will think proper to take Notice of this Letter therefore I Shall Say Nothing about it—6

We are all Well my Love to Billey I am as Ever Your Dutifull Nephew

Jona Williams

NB I am told that your Bill on the Late doctr Cooper Will be paid out of his Estate

Addressed: His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / at Passy / In / France

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The petition to set off the western portion of Wrentham as a separate town did not specify a name. The Mass. General Court, which received that petition, at first suggested Exeter, but the name was changed to Franklin by the time the town was incorporated on March 2, 1778: Mortimer Blake, A History of the Town of Franklin, Mass. … (Franklin, Mass., 1879), pp. 40–3.

5In April, 1784, the town voted £200 towards building a new meetinghouse, but that decision was overturned the following year. Plans for a new meetinghouse were finally settled at the end of 1787, and the building was completed in 1789: ibid., pp. 90–2.

6BF’s answer has not been located, but Jane Mecom read it before writing to BF on Oct. 21. She saw that he intended to donate to the town of Franklin books for a parish library rather than a bell, “hopeing the Franklins will Prefer Sense to Sound”: Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, pp. 231–2.

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