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Benjamin Franklin Letters Discovered

By Wyatt Earp | April 25, 2009


Okay, this is a story that should interest every American.

LONDON, England — An American professor doing research in London stumbled across a series of previously unknown letters written by, to, and about Benjamin Franklin, a stunning find that sheds new light on early U.S. history.

The collection of 47 letters are hand-written copies made 250 years ago, when Franklin lived in London. That they were filed under the copyist’s name, not Franklin’s, may explain why they were overlooked by historians until now, said a curator at the British Library, where the letters are held.

47 hard-written copies of Benjamin Franklin letters. Do you have any idea what a blockbuster discovery this is?

The find is reported in the April issue of the William & Mary Quarterly, a journal of early American history and culture.

The letters are important in large part because they offer a “wealth of new details” that affect modern understanding of Franklin, writes Alan Houston, the political science professor who discovered the letters in the spring of 2007.

The letters cover Franklin’s success in dealing with British Gen. Edward Braddock, who had been sent to Pennsylvania in 1755 to defeat the French at Fort Duquesne, in modern-day Pittsburgh. (H/TCNN)

Truly an incredible find. I cannot wait to read scans of them. Hopefully there are more letters available from the location.

Topics: Coolness! | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Benjamin Franklin Letters Discovered”

  1. Rick Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I saw this on Fox News. What a great find.

  2. Woody Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Wow. Can’t wait to read your Cliff’s Notes Wyatt.

  3. C/A Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Figured you’d be on this one.

  4. RT Says:
    April 26th, 2009 at 2:23 am

    It is amazing how things like this survive what time could otherwise do to them. Cool stuff.

  5. Alan B Says:
    April 26th, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Shows the importance of archives and old fashioned museums where things are kept, arranged, ordered and made available for study.

    There is a place for the bells and whistles and handles to turn and buttons to push and lights to flash. Too many British museums have gone this way because they have to “appeal to the public” i.e. to the lowest common denominator.

    It’s a good job that the British Library has not gone that way.

    If you want to understand the importance of the old fashioned type of natural history museum then read Richard Fortey’s book, “Dry Store Room No. 1 – The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum.”
    ISBN 978-0-00-720988-0, published 2008.

  6. Morgan Says:
    April 26th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Nothing short of amazing. In my case, it hasn’t been too long since I read Walter Issacson’s biography of Franklin (very fascinating book, btw; I recommend it), so this story piques my interest.