Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790) to David Hartley

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04449 Author/Creator: Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790) Place Written: Passy, France Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 8 June 1778 Pagination: 1 p. : address : docket ; 21.3 x 18.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Franklin as a diplomat in France to Hartley as a member of the British Parliament. The two were friends since the 1760s. References a letter he wrote to Hartley on 25 May 1778 concerning 200 British prisoners of war. Franklin says "We are oblig'd to keep the Prisoners on shipboard where I doubt they can be comfortably accommodated" and hopes they can be exchanged. Hartley and Franklin would later work together in Paris to sign the peace treaty ending the war. Docketing appears to be in Hartley's hand.

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Full Transcript: Passy June 8. 1778
Dear Sir,

I wrote you a few Lines the 25th of last Month, mentioning that we had here 200 English Prisoners, and desiring you to propose an Exchange. - ...I hope you receiv'd my Letter and that I shall soon be favour'd with an Answer - We are oblig'd to keep the Prisoners [inserted: on Shipboard] where I doubt they cannot be comfortably accomodated. - I am ever, with the greatest Esteem, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
B Franklin

[address]
To
David Hartley Esq
Member of Parliament
Golden Square
London

Pr favour
Mr Strange

[docket]
D. F. June 9
78
See More

People: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: American StatesmenDiplomacyRevolutionary WarMilitary HistoryMaritimePrisoner of War

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources