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Full text of "March, 1871. Letters of Benjamin Franklin; Letter from the President of the Society; Letters of George Washington"

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1871.] LETTERS OP BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 49 



MAKCH, 1871. 

A stated monthly meeting was held on Thursday, March 
9th, at 11 o'clock, a.m. ; Vice-President Adams, in the absence 
of the President, in the Chair. 

The record of the last monthly meeting was read. 

The Librarian read his monthly list of donors to the Li- 
brary.- 

The Corresponding Secretary read a letter of acceptance 
from the Rev. W. I. Budington, D.D. 

Mr. Abner C. Goodell, Jr., of Salem, was elected a Resident 
Member. 

Dr. Green read some original letters of Benjamin Franklin, 
of which copies are here given : — 

Address, — To Mess"? Wbight, Smith, & Gbat, Bankers, 

Lombard Street. 

Gentlemen, — Inclos'd I send you three Bills of Exchange, White 
on Bacon, for five hundred pounds sterling. They are different bills, 
tho' on the same paper. Please to present them for acceptance, and 
enter them in my book. 

Send me p M'.' Stevenson, the bearer, thirty guineas, of which two 
in silver. 

I am, your most obed? hum" serv', 

B. Feanklin. 

Cbavbn Stkebt, July 13, 1765. 



Address, — Mr. David Hali,, Printer, 

FhiUdelphia. 
Via Boston. 

Free, B. Franklin. 

London, April 9, 1761. 

Deak Friend, — I receiv'd yours of Feb. 9, with the bills for 2007, 
for which I thank you. I shall take care to send the lower case Bre- 
vier r's that you write for ; and acquaint M? Strahan with what you 
mention. The loss of Faulkner & Lutwydge has baulkt correspond- 
ence between Philad° & London a great deal. I lately receiv'd the 
enclos'd from Edinburgh, & sent the answer you will find copy'd on 
the back. I cannot but blame Mess" Scot and McMichael, for con- 
tinuing to draw on such correspondents, after what pass'd last year, 
and think they ought now to suffer a little. As the goods you order'd 
from Mf Balfour were, or would be, sent, I judg'd your affairs would 
not suffer by my not taking it up, for otherwise I should have done it. 



50 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [March, 

I hope you will not disapprove my conduct in this respect, being, 
dear friend. 

Yours affectionately, B. Franklin. 

Indorsed, — Mr Franklin, 

April 9, 1761. 



Address, — To M^ Humphry Marshall, 

West Bradford, 
Chester County. 
P Capt. Osborne, 

with a brown paper parcel. 

London, April 22, 1771. 

SiE, — I duly received your favours of the 4"" of October and the 
17"" of November. It gave me pleasure to hear, that, tho' the mer- 
chants had departed from their agreement of non-importation, the 
spirit of industry & frugality was likely to continue among the people. 
I am obliged to you for your concern on my account. The letters you 
mention gave great offence here ; but that was not attended with the 
immediate ill consequences to my interest that seem to have been 
hoped for by those that sent copies of them hither. 

If our country people would well consider, that all they save in re- 
fusing to purchase foreign gewgaws, & in making their own apparel, be- 
ing apply'd to the improvement of their plantations, would render those 
more profitable, as yielding a greater produce, I should hope they 
would persist resolutely in their present commendable industry and 
frugality. And there is still a farther consideration. The colonies that 
produce provisions grow very fast : but of the countries that take off 
those provisions, some do not increase at all, as the European nations, 
and others, as the West India Colonies, not in the same proportion 
So that tho' the demand at present may be sufficient, it cannot long 
continue so. Every manufacturer" encouraged in our country makes 
part of a market for provisions within ourselves, and saves so much 
money to the country as must otherwise be exported to pay for the 
manufactures he supplies. Here in England it is well known and un- 
derstood, that wherever a manufacture is established which employs 
a number of hands, it raises the value of lands in the neighbouring 
country all around it ; partly by the greater demand near at hand for 
the produce of the land ; and partly from the plenty of money drawn 
by the manufacturers to that part of the country. It seems, therefore, 
the interest of all our farmers and owners of lands, to encourage our 
young manufactures in preference to foreign ones imported among us 
from distant countries. 

I am much obliged by your kind present of curious seeds. They 
were welcome gifts to some of my friends. I send you herewith some 
of the new barley lately introduced into this country, & now highly 
spoken of. I wish it may be found of use with us. 

I was the more pleas'd to see in your letter the improvement of 



1871.] LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY. 51 

our paper ; having had a principal share in establishing that manu- 
facture among us many years ago by the encouragement I gave it. 
If in any thing I can serve you here, it will be a pleasure to 
Your obliged friend and humble servant, 

B. E'eanklin.* 
M' HcMPHRY Marshall. 



Address, — To MessT' Smith, Weight, & Geat, Bankers, 

Lomb^ Street. 
Gent^, — Enclosed I send some bills; viz.: 

Harly & Drummond £200 

W. Cunningham 20 

D. Milligan 52 

Alex Grant 30 

302 
for which please to return receipt p bearer. 

Yours, &c. B. Franklin. 

Messrs Smith, Wright, & Gray. 

The Chairman took notice of the recent decease of an 
Associate Member, Joseph Palmer, M.D., and reported from 
the Standing Committee the following Resolution, which was 
adopted : — 

Resolved, That the Society have heard with regret of the death 
of Dr. Joseph Palmer, a Eesident JMember, and that the President 
be requested to appoint one of our number to prepare a Memoir of 
him for the Society's Proceedings. 

Mr. Deane read the following extract from a letter ad- 
dressed to him by the President of the Society, then in New 
York, dated 6th March, in which reference was made to the 
late Dr. Palmer: — 

I see that our friend, Dr. Palmer, has at length been released from 
his infirmities. I would gladly have said a kind word about him at 
our meeting on Thursday ; but I cannot be at home, and it will be bet- 
ter said by some one else. Hillard and I were among his pupils, when 
he was an usher of the Latin School, half a century ago. His 
"Necrology" of Harvard is really valuable. Perhaps Mr. Sibley 
would undertake a Memoir of him. 
In haste, 

Yours sincerely, Robert C. Winthrop. 

Charles Deane, Esq. 

Messrs. Mason, Thayer, and E. B. Bigelow were appointed a 
Committee on the Treasurer's accounts. 

• This letter is printed from a lithographic copy Eds. 



52 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [MARCH, 

Messrs. Lincoln, Blagden, and W. G. Brooks were appointed 
a Committee to nominate officers for the ensuing year. 

Dr. Green exhibited a medallion of Dr. Franklin, in red 
clay, made by Nini in 1777. An engraving of it, on a re- 
duced scale, appears in Lossing's " Field Book of the Revo- 
lution," ii. 855. It was probably this medallion that Franklin 
refers to in a letter to his daughter, dated June 3, 1779 
(Sparks's Life, viii. 373). He there says: "The clay me- 
dallion of me, you say you gave to Mr. Hopkinson, was the 
first of the kind made in France. A variety of others have 
been made since of different sizes ; some to be set in the lids 
of snuff-boxes, and some so small as to be worn in rings ; and 
the numbers sold are incredible." 

Mr. Ellis Ames exhibited two very large, elegant, colored 
maps or plans, on parchment, of the territory formerly " Dor- 
chester South Precinct," now comprising the towns of Canton, 
Stoughton, Sharon, Foxborough, a part of Dedham, and a 
large portion of Wrentham ; and extending on the Plymouth 
Colony Line from Braintree to within one hundred and sixty 
rods of Rhode Island. 

The earlier of the two plans was a copy made by James 
Blake, Jr., surveyor, in 1726, from a plan made by John 
Butcher, surveyor, from the surveys by the latter in detail 
made in 1696 and 1697, of what is now Canton, from the lines 
of Milton and Braintree, in the Blue Hills, including the reser- 
vation for the Punkapog Indians, and extending some distance 
into the northerly part of what is now Stoughton, and as far 
into Sharon as the east side of Massapoag Pond. This was 
what was called the " Twelve Divisions." 

The second was an original plan of great length, made by 
James Blake, Jr., himself, from his own surveys of the 
" Twenty-five Divisions," so called, and finished by him in 
1730 ; comprehending a laborious, complete, and detailed 
survey of the easterly, south-easterly, and southerly part of 
Stoughton, and of all the territory of ancient Dorchester 
South Precinct not described upon Butcher's plan, including 
the residue of Sharon, all of Foxborough, the gore of Wren- 
tham, and about 4|- miles into Wrentham on the Plymouth 
Colony Line. That gore of Wrentham was cut off from Dor- 
chester South Precinct in 1724, and set to Wrentham by an 
Act of the General Court. 

Upon these plans the few then existing roads or paths and 
all the rivers and ponds were delineated, and all the sections 
of land plotted, and the owners' names inserted. The first 
child of English origin born upon that territory was in the 



1871.] LETTEES OF GEOEGE WASHINGTON. 53 

year 1700. These surveys of sectic>ns were chiefly of the 
earliest sale and laying out to individuals of the lands of that 
territory. Mr. Ames said that he had never known or heard 
of any ancient surveyors' plans of the kind, of equal extent, to 
compare with these in elegance and finish. 

The Cabinet-keeper called attention to a portrait in oil, of 
cabinet size, of Governor Mascarene, of Nova Scotia, painted 
from the original (which is now in Nova Scotia) by our mem- 
ber, Mr. Whitmoee, who presented it to the Society. 

Mr. Whitmore presented a copy of the National Intelli 
gencer, of Oct. 25, 1862, containing some letters of General 
Washington, addressed to Lund Washington^ which were re- 
ferred to the Publishing Comnuttee. They are here printed : — 

Letters of General Washington to Lund Washington, Esq.* 

Alexandria, Oct. 22, 1862. 

To THE Editors op the National Intelligencer. 

I send you extracts from three of Gen. Washington's letters. 
They wiU be found exceedingly interesting, and I offer them for pub- 
lication. 

Cassius F. Lee, Jr. 



Col. Mokeis's, on the Heights of Harlem, 
30th September, 1776. 
Dear Lund, — Your letter of the 18th, which is the only one re- 
ceived and unanswered, now lies before me. The amazement which 
you seem to be in at the unaccountable measures which have been 

adopted by would be a good deal increased if I had the time to 

unfold the whole system of their management since this time twelve 
months. I do not know how to account for the unfortunate steps 
which have been taken but from that fatal idea of conciliation which 
prevailed so long, — fatal, I call it, because, from my soul, I wish it 
may prove so, though my fears lead me to think there is too much 
danger of it. This time last year I pointed out the evil consequences 
of short enlistments, the expenses of militia, and the little dependence 
that was to be placed in them. I assured that the longer they 

* "Mr. Lund Washington was the agent for superintending General Washington's 
plantations, and managing his business concerns, during the Revolution. It was not 
known what degree of family relationship existed between them, though it was supposed 
that they both descended from the same original stock. . . . From the beginning to the 
end of the Revolution, Lund Washington wrote to the General as often at least as two 
or three times a month, and commonly every week, detailing minutely all the events 
that occurred on the plantations. . . . These letters were regularly answered by the 
General. . . . Hardly any copies of this description of letters were recorded, if retained, 
and the originals have been lost or destroyed. But Lund Washington's letters are 
preserved. . . ." — Sparhs's Writings of WashingUm,lXl.Vl(i, VII. — Eds. 



64 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [MaKCH, 

delayed raising a standing army the more difficult and chargeable would 
they find it to get one, and that, at the same time that the militia would 
answer no valuable purpose, the frequent calling them in would be 
attended with an expense that they could have no conception of. 
Whether, as I have said before, the unfortunate hope of reconciliation 
was the cause, or the fear of a standing army prevailed, I will not 
undertake to say ; but the policy was to engage men for twelve months 
only. The consequence of which, you have had great bodies of militia 
in pay that never were in camp ; you have had immense quantities of 
provisions drawn by men that never rendered you one hour's service 
(at least usefully), and this in the most profuse and wasteful way. 
Your stores have been expended, every kind of military (?) destroyed 
by them ; your numbers fluctuating, uncertain, and forever far short of 
report, — at no one time, I believe, equal to twenty thousand men fit 
for duty. At present our numbers fit for duty (by this day's report) 
amount to 14,759, besides 3,427 on command, and the enemy within 
stone's throw of us. It is true a body of militia are again ordered out, 
but they come without any conveniences and soon return. I discharged 
a regiment the other day that had in it fourteen rank and file fit for 
duty only, and several that had less than fifty. In short, such is my 
situation that if I were to wish the bitterest curse to an enemy on this 
side of the grave, I should put him in my stead with my feelings ; and 
yet I do not know what plan of conduct to pursue. I see the impos- 
sibility of serving with reputation, or doing any essential service to the 
cause by continuing in command, and yet I am told that if I quit the 
command inevitable ruin will follow, from the distraction that will 
ensue. In confidence I tell you that 1 never was in such an unhappy, 
divided state since I was born. To lose all comfort and happiness on 
the one hand, whilst I am fully persuaded that under such a system of 
management as has been adopted I cannot have the least chance for 
reputation, nor those allowances made which the nature of the case 
requires ; and to be told, on the other, that if I leave the service all 
will be lost, is, at the same time that I am bereft of every peaceful 
moment, distressing to a degree. But I will be done with the subject, 
with the precaution to you that it is not a fit one to be publicly known 
or discussed. If I fall, it may not be amiss that these circumstances 
be known, and declaration made in credit to the justice of my charac- 
ter. And if the men will stand by me (which by the by I despair of), 
I am resolved not to be forced from this ground while I have life ; and 
a few days will determine the point, if the enemy should not change 
their plan of operations ; for they certainly will not — I am sure they 
ought not — to waste the season that is now fast advancing, and must 
be precious to them. I thought to have given you a more explicit 
account of my situation, expectation, and feelings, but I have not time. 
I am wearied to death all day with a variety of perplexing circumstan- 
ces — disturbed at the conduct of the militia, whose behavior and want 
of discipline has done great injury to the other troops, who never had 
officers, except in a few instances, worth the bread they eat. My time, 
in short, is so much engrossed that I have not leisure for corresponding, 



1871.] LETTERS OP GEORGE WASHINGTON. 55 

unless it is on mere matters of public business. ... I am, with truth 
and sincerity, dear Lund, your aifectionate friend, 

Geo. Washington. 

Another letter dated — 

Falls of the Delawake, Sodthside, 
December 10, 1776. 

Deab Lund, — ... I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give 
you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, 
quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under 
the command of Gen. Howe, being reduced by sickness, desertion, and 
political deaths (on or before the 1st instant, and having no assistance 
from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were 
perfectly well informed of our situation till we came to this place, 
where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, 
till joined by the Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand 
men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose 
Howe's whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the 
command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in 
my opinion, but Gen. Lee's speedy arrival, who has been long expected, 
though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. 
We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our 
hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this 
place ; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles with 
less than half the enemy's numbers ; when by force or stratagem they 
may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present 
they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below 
us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) 
for fifteen miles. . . . 

From the same letter, dated — 

Decembek 17, ten miles above the Falls. 

... I have since moved up to this place, to be more convenient to 
our great and extensive defences of this river. Hitherto, by our 
destruction of the boats, and vigilance in watching the fords of the 
river above the falls (which are now rather high), we have prevented 
them from crossing ; but how long we shall be able to do it God only 
knows, as they are still hovering about the river. And if every thing 
else fails will wait till the 1st of January, when there will be no other 
men to oppose them but militia, none of which but those from Phila- 
delphia, mentioned in the first part of the letter, are yet come (though 
I am told some are expected from the back counties). When I say 
none but militia, I am to except the Virginia regiments and the shat- 
tered remains of Smallwood's, which, by fatigue, want of clothes, &c., 
are reduced to nothing, — Weedon, which was the strongest, not having 
more than between one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty 
men fit for duty, the rest being in the hospitals. The unhappy policy 
of short enlistments and a dependence upon militia will, I fear, prove 
the downfall of our cause, though early pointed out with an almost 



56 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [MakCH, 

prophetic spirit ! Our cause has also received a severe blow in the 
captivity of Gen. Lee. Unhappy man ! Taken by his own impru- 
dence, going three or four miles from his own camp, and within twenty 
of the enemy, notice of which by a rascally Tory was given, a party 
of light horse seized him in the morning after travelling all night and 
carried him off in high triumph, and with every mark of indignity, not 
even suffering him to get his hat or surtout coat. The troops that 
were under his command are not yet come up with us, though they, I 
think, may be expected to-morrow. A large part of the Jerseys have 
given every proof of disaffection that they can do, and this part of 
Pennsylvania are equally inimical. In short, your imagination can 
scarce extend to a situation more distressing than mine. Our only 
dependence now is upon the speedy enlistment of a new army. If 
this fails, I think the game will be pretty well up, as, from disaffection 
and want of spirit and fortitude, the inhabitants, instead of resistance, 
are offering submission and taking protection from Gen. Howe in Jer- 
sey. . . . 

I am, your affectionate friend, 

Geo. Washington. 

To LuKD WashAgton, Esq. 

Headqcakteks Middlebrook, May 29, 1779. 

Dear Lund, — Your letter of the 19th, which came to hand by the 
last post, gives a melancholy account of your prospects for a crop, and 
a still more melancholy one of the decay of public virtue. The first 
I submit to with the most perfect resignation and cheerfulness. I look 
upon every dispensation of Providence as designed to answer some 
valuable purpose, and hope I shall always possess a sufficient degree of 
fortitude to bear without murmuring any stroke which may happen, 
either to my person or estate, from that quarter. But I cannot, with 
any degree of patience, behold the infamous practices of speculators, 
monopolizers, and all that class of gentry which are preying upon our 
very vitals, and, for the sake of a little dirty pelf, are putting the rights 
and liberties of the country into the most imminent danger, and con- 
tinuing a war destructive to the lives and property of the valuable part 
of this community, which would have ceased last fall as certain as we 
now exist but for the encouragements the enemy derived from this 
source, — the depreciation of the money (which in a great measure is 
the consequence of it) and ovir own internal divisions. 

I am, sincerely and affectionately, your friend and servant, 

Geo. "Washington. 

Lund 'Washington, Esq. 

Mr. Deane read a letter from Messrs. Cyrus and Darius 
Cobb, presenting to the Society a cabinet picture of the late 
Dr. John Appleton, so long Assistant Librarian of the Society. 

He also read a letter from Mr. Charles E. Wiggin, of Boston, 
presenting to the Society, in the name of Mrs. M. H. School- 



1871.] TRIBUTE TO WINTHROP SARGENT. 57 

craft, widow of the late Henry R. Schoolcraft, of Washington, 
a number of books in the Indian languages of America. 

Mr. Deane communicated at the same time an interesting 
letter from Mrs. Schoolcraft, addressed to Mr. Wiggin, which, 
by the kindness of the latter, had been placed in his hands ; 
and in which, in a touching manner, she speaks of the literary 
labors of her husband, of his prostration for many years by 
disease, during which he was dependent on his wife as nurse 
and amanuensis. It is understood that the six folio volumes 
of Mr. Schoolcraft on the History, &c., of the Indian Tribes of 
the United States, were written wholly by Mrs. Schoolcraft at 
his dictation. 

The thanks of the Society were returned for these several 
gifts. 



SPECIAL MEETING. 

A social meeting was held on Thursday evening, March 
23d, at the house of Mr. Robert M. Mason, No. 1 Walnut 
Street, corner of Beacon Street, at 7i- o'clock ; the President 
in the chair. 

The President communicated a copy of a photographic like 
ness of the late Winthrop Sargent, a Corresponding Member 
of the Society, presented by his sister, Mrs. Henry Duncan ; 
together with the following Paper : — 

HiSTOEiCAi. Society op Pennsylvania, 

Philadelphia, December 12, 1870. 

\^Extract from the Minutes.'] 

Mr. Jordan remarked that the Society had lately lost by death 
one of its valued members, Winthrop Sargent, who died in Paris on 
the 18th of May last. 

Mr. Sargent's loss has been the subject of more than usual notice by 
the press of the United States and the different bodies with which he 
was connected. The Bar of Philadelphia, his native city, from which 
he had long been separated, had publicly expressed the sense of 
affectionate regret for a member who had illustrated by his literary 
productions the culture and refinement of the profession in which he 
had been educated. The Massachusetts Historical Society had placed 
upon their record their sense of his great services to American History. 
He thought it fitting that this Society, under whose auspices Mr. Sar- 
gent had edited some of his most valuable works, should make an 
extended acknowledgment of the great merit of their late member.