FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.
FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.
FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.
FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.
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PROPERTY FROM THE ROGER D. JUDD COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL LETTERS, DOCUMENTS & MANUSCRIPTS
FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.

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FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 1 [-16] January 1769.

Four pages, 312 x 205mm (slight discoloration to first page, partial fold separations to first page mended).

Franklin reconsiders his opposition to the Currency Act as it “will tend to lead us naturally into Industry and Frugality” and offers advice on "the Affections of Smoke and Rooms and Chimneys". Franklin is pleased Lord Kames is turning his “Thoughts to political Subjects and particularly to those of Money, Taxes, Manufactures and Commerce. The World is yet much in the dark on these important Points; and many mischievous Mistakes are continually made in the Management of them. Most of our Acts of Parliament for regulating them, are in my Opinion, little better than political Blunders, owing to Ignorance of the Science, or to the Designs of crafty Men, who mislead the Legislature, proposing something under the specious Appearance of Public Good, while the real Aim is, to sacrifice that to their own private Interest." He hopes that Kames' sagacity will be able to throw new light on these subjects and regrets that his own letter of 1767 outlining the problems between Britain and the Colonies relating to taxation never received Kames' comments as it was lost in the mail.

Franklin proceeds to relate the history of the controversy over American paper money that led to the enactment of the Currency Act of 1764. During the French and Indian War, Virginia had issued great sums of paper money to pay their troops. The resultant inflation affected the tobacco growers who found themselves unable to satisfy their creditors in London after two years of disappointing crops. Distressed merchants lobbied Parliament to pass an act prohibiting the issue of any money other than specie in the Colonies. Franklin observed that this was done despite the fact that "there was no Complaint against it from any Merchants but those trading to Virginia," and while their losses were steep, if they had waited "a year or two, the above mention'd Loss would have been avoided; For as soon as Tobacco became more plenty, and of course Bills of Exchange also, the Exchange fell much as it before had risen." Franklin was in America when the act passed, and on his return to England, he organized the merchants "trading to New York, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia ." against the act, and published his sentiments in a paper: Remarks and Facts Relative to the American Paper Money, which appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle in May 1767. Since that writing, he had altered his position, believing that "a Scarcity of Money will work with our other present Motives for lessening out fond Extravagance in the Use of the of the Superfluous Manufactures of this Country (which unkindly grudges us the Enjoyment of common Rights) and will tend to lead us naturally into Industry and Frugality, I am grown more indifferent about the Repeal of the Act, and if my Countrymen will be advis'd by me, we shall never ask it again."

Franklin then turns to fireplaces, offering solutions to the problems of smoke from adjacent flues, that enter the rooms of Kames' house in Edinburgh. After offering some general principles, he turns to Kames’ situation, “which you describe to be, that ‘after a whole Day’s Fire, which must greatly heat the Vent, yet when the Fire becomes low, so as not to emit any Smoke, neighbour Smoke immediately begins to descend and fill the Room.’ This, if not owing to particular Winds, may be occasion’d by a stronger Fire in another Room communicating with yours by a Door, the outer Air being excluded by the outward Door’s being shut, whereby the stronger Fire finds it easier to be supply’d with Air down thro’ the Vent in which the weak Fire is, and thence thro’ the communicating Door, than thro’ the Crevices. If this is the Circumstance, you will find that a Supply of Air is only wanting that may be sufficient for both Vents. If this is not the Circumstance, send me if you please a compleat Description of your Room, its Situation, Connections, . and possibly I may form a better Judgment.” He offers to send him "a Collection of my Philosophical Papers lately publish'd, in which you will find something more relating to the Motions of Air in Chimneys". He refers to the fourth edition of his Experiments and Observations on Electricity, 1769, which on pp. 284-318 deals with these problems.

This letter is in reply to a letter from Kames evidently discussing economic topics, which is now lost. Franklin writes "It is always a great Pleasure to hear from you, and would be much greater to be with you, to converse with you on the Subjects you mention, or any other". There is no record that Kames actually published any essays on these subjects, but he was held in the highest regard in Scotland, both as a lawyer and as a philosopher.

In closing, Franklin proposes "to commence a Conversation with you on your new Subject, I have thrown some of my present Sentiments into the consise Form of Aphorisms to be examine'd between us [...] I send them enclosed". This presumably refers to his paper "Positions to be Examined", outlining Franklin's theory of value where in correspondence with Lord Kames he refined his ideas of the relation between labor, agriculture, manufacturing and commerce. The article was published in De Re Rustica; or the Repository for Select Papers on Agriculture, Arts and Manufactures, vol.I (1769) pp. 350-52. Published in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. L. W. Labaree, vol.16 pp. 1-4. Provenance: sold by the descendants of Lord Kames, Christie's, 29 June 1995, lot 513.
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