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counts to Congress, and had advice of their being received. On my arrival at Philadelphia, one of the first things I did was to despatch my grandson, William T. Franklin, to New York, to obtain a final settlement of those accounts; he, having long acted as my secretary, and being well acquainted with the transactions, was able to give an explanation of the articles, that might seem to require explaining, if any such there were. He returned without effecting the settlement, being told, that it could not be made till the arrival of some documents expected from France. What those documents were, I have not been informed, nor can I readily conceive, as all the vouchers existing there had been examined by Mr. Barclay. And I, having been immediately after my arrival engaged in the public business of this State, waited in expectation of hearing from Congress, in case any part of my accounts had been objected to.
It is now more than three years that those accounts have been before that honorable body, and, to this day, no notice of any such objection has been communicated to me. But reports have, for some time past, been circulated here, and propagated in the newspapers, that I am greatly indebted to the United States for large sums, that had been put into my hands, and that I avoid a settlement. This, together with the little time one of my age may expect to live, makes it necessary for me to request earnestly, which I hereby do, that the Congress would be pleased, without further delay, to examine those accounts, and if they find therein any article or articles, which they do not understand or approve, that they would cause me to be acquainted with the same, that I may have an opportunity of offering such explanations or reasons in sup
port of them as may be in my power, and then that the accounts may be finally closed.
I hope the Congress will soon be able to attend to this business for the satisfaction of the public, as well as in condescension to my request. In the mean time, if there be no impropriety in it, I would desire that this letter, together with another * relating to the same subject, the copy of which is hereto annexed, may be put upon their minutes. With every sentiment of respect and duty to Congress, I am, Sir, &c.
* A letter to Mr. Barclay, written in France; see above, p. 184.
+ The requests contained in this letter were never complied with. Some months afterwards Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, wrote to him as follows.
“Dear Sir; I am sorry to inform you, that the apprehensions suggested in my last are realized. The delegates, whom the States appointed to conduct the business of the Union in Congress till the meeting of the new government, have not assembled in sufficient number to form & House. Consequently there was no opportunity of laying your letter before them, and getting it inserted on their minutes. I now wish to be informed what is to be done with it; whether you would desire it to remain among the other papers of the late Congress, or have it returned to you. I shall wait your orders. In the mean while accept a fresh assurance of the sincere esteem and regard with which I am, &c." — New York, March 7th, 1789.
There is no evidence, that any farther efforts were made by Dr. Franklin to obtain justice from Congress. On the 1st of April, 1789, a sufficient number of members had assembled to organize the Congress under the new Constitution; but there is no record in the Journals, which shows that the above letter to the President of the old Congress was ever laid before that body, or that the subject was in any manner brought into consideration. Dr. Franklin's accounts, therefore, remained unsettled till his death, notwithstanding his repeated solicitations to have them examined, adjusted, and closed. No allowance was ever granted for the “ equitable demands for extra services," to which he thought himself entitled, nor were the grounds of them even made a subject of inquiry ; no vote of thanks or approbation was passed for his long, steady, and most successful labors in the cause of his country. These evidences of ingratitude and neglect are humiliating, but history should speak with an impartial voice. When time has cooled the heat of passion, and the feuds of party are forgotten, men will be judged by their acts. As FROM MISS CATHERINE LOUISA SHIPLEY TO
On the Death of her Father, the Bishop of St. Asaph.
Bolton Street, 24 December, 1788. MY DEAR FRIEND, It is a great while since I wrote to you, and still longer since I heard from you; but I have now a particular pleasure in writing to one, who had long known and loved the dear good parent I have lost.* You will probably, before you receive this, have heard of my father's death; his illness was short, and terminated in an apoplexy. He was seldom perfectly in his senses for the last four days, but such constant calmness and composure could only have attended the deathbed of a truly good man. How unlike the ideas I had formed to myself of death, which, till now, I had only seen at a distance, and heard of with terror. The nearer his last moment approached, the more his ideas seemed elevated; and, but for those whom living he had loved with tenderness, and dying he still felt interested for, he showed no regret at leaving this world. I believe his many virtues have called down a blessing on his family, for we have all been supported under this severe affliction beyond what I could have imagined ; and, though sorrow will for a time get the better of every other sensation, I feel now that the strongest impression left by his death is the desire of imitating his virtues in an humbler sphere of life.
affording some explanation of the tardiness of Congress in attending to Dr. Franklin's accounts, it is enough to state, that Mr. Arthur Lee was one of the Commissioners of the Treasury, by whom those accounts were first to be examined.
* The Bishop of St. Asaph died in London, on the 9th of December,
My dear mother's health, I hope, will not have suffered materially; and she has every consolation to be derived from the reflection, that, for forty-five years, it was the study of her life to make the best of husbands happy.. He, in return, has shown that his attention to her ease and comfort did not end with his life. He was happily preserved to us so long as to be able to leave all his family in good circumstances. I fancy my mother, Bessy, and I, shall live at Twyford, but at present no place is settled.
May I flatter myself, that you will still feel some affection for the family of your good old friend, and let me have the happiness of hearing it from yourself ? I shall request Dr. Price to send this letter. My mother, brother, and sisters, beg to be all most kindly remembered. Believe me, dear Sir, your faithful and obliged
CATHERINE LOUISA SHIPLEY.
FROM RICHARD PRICE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Death of the Bishop of St. Asaph. — Dr. Rush. — Fed
eral Constitution. — Affairs in England.
Hackney, December, 1788. MY DEAR FRIEND, I have been desired by Miss Kitty Shipley to convey to you the enclosed letter, and I cannot at present find any way of conveying it except by the packet. It will inform you of the death of one of your warmest friends, and the best of bishops. Ever since the American war, I have been honored with much of his attention and friendship; and I cannot but mourn the loss, which his family, his friends, and the world have sustained. His family are in a state of deep concern, but at the same time inquisitive about you, and anxious to receive some information about you. You can be nowhere more beloved or respected.
I have heard with pain, that you have been suffering under the gout and stone, two sad maladies; but, alas! it is impossible that our bodily frame, as it wears out, and approaches to its dissolution, should not subject us to sufferings. Happy are those, who, in such circumstances, can look back on a life distinguished by such services as yours have been. There is, I trust, beyond the grave, a world where we shall all meet, and rise to greater happiness than any we have enjoyed here.
Will you be so good as to deliver my compliments to Dr. Rush. You have, I know, too much to do, and too many letters to answer, and therefore I can only wish that Dr. Rush would give me an account of you. He has frequently favored me with letters, and they generally gratify me highly by informing me of the state of affairs in the United States. His last letter was dated in May, and I answered it in June by Mr. Bishop, a gentleman from Connecticut, who was returning from his travels through France and Germany.
I rejoice to find that the Federal Constitution has been adopted by the States. This confirms me in the hope, that a state of things is commencing there more favorable to human rights, than any that has yet been known in this world. One of the circumstances, in which I am most disposed to rejoice, is, the separation which has taken place there of religion from civil policy, and the free scope given to discussion and improvement, by abolishing the interposition of civil power in matters of speculation, and extending equal protection to all religious sects, as far as they avoid injuring one another.