Portrait of the Artist as a Man
March 3, 2015

Colonial Drunk Texting.

If you’re going to abuse one virtue, can you couch it successful usabe of another? In reading through Franklin’s letters tonight, I found a rather funny letter send to William Strahan in 1784.

Strahan was friend to Franklin. He attended parliament and published summaries of debates and laws passing. These summaries made their way to the colonies where Franklin would republish them as was typical to spread news in the day.

In the late 1700s, England is turmoil. The revolutionary war and abolishment of slavery had English citizens demonstrating for further rights, better representation in parliament. Strahan wrote letters to Franklin complaining and decrying the tumult.

Franklin, ever the caring friend, wrote back poking fun at England as they moved further away from Monarchy which America had just done.

I suspect that Franklin grew pretty sour over it as Strahan became an anti-revolutionary over time.

In a response to Strahan, a Franklin pulls no punches,

In my humble Opinion the Root of the Evil lies, not so much in too long or too unequally chosen Parliaments, as in the enormous Salaries, Emoluments, and Patronage of your Great Offices; and that you will never be at rest till they are all abolish’d, and every Place of Honour made, at the same time, in stead of a Place of Profit

We have some Remains of Affection for you, and shall always be ready to receive and take care of you in case of Distress. So, if you have not Sense and Virtue enough left to govern yourselves, e’en dissolve your present old crazy Constitution, and send Members to Congress. (emphasis his)

Pretty forward, no? Though this may be a good exercise in Sincerity, it’s hardly a good show on Moderation or Tranquility. And, he ends with this,

You will say my Advice smells of Madeira. You are right. This foolish Letter is mere Chit-chat between ourselves, over the second Bottle: If therefore you show it to any body (except our indulgent Friends Dagge and Lady Strahan) I will positively Solless you.

Yours ever most affectionately,


Oh yes. Temperance be damned, it’s always a good idea to drunk write your friends. I wonder if he mailed it immediately or woke the next day still thinking sending this was a good idea.

Wrestling with Franklin

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