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Item 120 - Benjamin Franklin Catalog 453 (Jun 2015)

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ALS signed “Your affectionate Uncle, B. Franklin,” one page, 7 x 11.75, June 16, 1764. Letter to Anthony Stickney, husband of his niece Dorcas Davenport. In full: “I received yours of the 16th May, and am glad to hear that you and your Family are well, and that your Wife is safely delivered of another Daughter, which I hope will prove a Blessing to you both. I got home without any farther Accident, but have not yet recovered fully the former Strength of my Arm. Your Brother Josiah Davenport is still at Pitsburg, near 400 Miles west of this Place, where he has the Care of the Provincial Store, that was establish’d there during the Peace, for the Indian Trade; and since the War broke out again, there has been no good Opportunity of bringing off the Goods, so he is oblig’d to remain with them. His Wife and Children are here; and she seems to be in a bad State of Health, but the Children are well. My Wife and Daughter thank you for your good Wishes, and return theirs for you and yours. Present my best Respects to Mr. and Mrs. Lowell, and my Love to your Wife and Children. Remember me too, to your Brother Davenport and his Family.” Handsomely double-matted and framed with an engraved portrait and nameplate to an overall size of 26 x 24. In very good condition, with repaired separations to intersecting folds (one passing through the “F” in his signature), several other small repaired tears, and scattered soiling.

During the previous summer, Franklin had undertaken a journey between Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during which he visited Davenport and Stickney at their home in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in late August or early September. The beginning of the present letter follows up on some of the news from that trip—records show that Davenport had a daughter on September 5, 1763, a birth that would have been expected daily during Franklin’s visit. Franklin had suffered two falls during the summer and severely injured his shoulder, so he also provides an update on his condition. An interesting subject comes in Franklin’s mention of Josiah Davenport being held up in Pittsburgh because “the War broke out again.” Pontiac's War had broken out between a loose confederation of several Native American tribes and British colonists, and at the time of this letter British forts were being attacked. Davenport served as a militia volunteer during the Siege of Fort Pitt, which began with an attack June 22 and lasted through August 20, 1763. This event became best known for British Army’s tactic of giving the attacking Native Americans smallpox-exposed blankets, contributing to the widespread epidemic across the population. Touching upon several biographical and autobiographical subjects, as well as the broader situation in Pennsylvania as the brutal Pontiac’s War developed, this letter presents fine content from one of the most remarkable figures in American history. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

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