Title [Benjamin Franklin]
Number 51633
Size 8" X 12.5"
Date [1817]
Place [Philadelphia]
Category Signers of the Declaration
Price $500.00
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Headline
Rare reprinting of a purported 1782 Boston newspaper created by Benjamin Franklin in France, as he later explained, to publicize British “barbarities in America, particularly those committed by the savages at their instigation. The form may perhaps not be genuine, but the substance is truth...”
Description
Benjamin Franklin] Newspaper “Supplement / To the Boston Chronicle,” two pages, 8” x 12.5”, front and verso. Dated Boston, March 13, 1782, but printed in 1817. Copies of the original 1782 printing are said to be non-existent. Rough lower edge, upper and right edges frayed, creased, and toned with no loss of text. Good condition.

In 1782, Benjamin Franklin, U.S. Minister to France, created a “Supplement To The Boston Independent Chronicle. Boston, March 12,” printing it on his press in Passy, France, an early example of U.S. propaganda. This newspaper ran a fictitious extract of a letter from a Capt. Samuel Gerrish of the New England Militia, dated Albany, March 7, relating the contents of a captured letter from “James Craufurd,” dated Teoga, Jan. 3d, 1782, to “Col. Haldimand, governor of Canada,” which had accompanied the supposed letter described the contents of “eight packs of scalps, cured, dried, hoped, and painted, with all the Indian triumphal marks” sent to the British Governor by the Senneka chiefs with a transcript of a “speech delivered by Conejogatchie in council ... we wish you to send these scalps over the water to the great king ... that he may see our faithfulness in destroying his enemies...” A total of 1,062 scalps were in the packs including “congress soldiers killed in different skirmishes ... farmers killed in their houses ... prisoners burnt alive, after being scalped, their nails pulled out by the roots ... women ... boys’ scalps of various ages ... girls’ scalps big and little ... little infants’ scalps of various sizes ... a black knife in the middle to show they were ript out of their mothers’ bellies...”

Mary E. Rucker, in “American Literature, 1764-1789,’ edited by Everett H. Emerson (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977) writes, “Franklin wrote to Charles Dumas that the first edition of the ‘Supplement,’ a hoax printed on his press at Passy, ‘places in a striking light, the English barbarities in America, particularly those committed by the savages at their instigation. The form may perhaps not be genuine, but the substance is truth; the number of our people of all kinds and ages, murdered and scalped by them being known to exceed that of the invoice.’ Because he intended to shame the British, he exploited the sentimentality inherent in his gruesome details. The various voices of the work, however, are controlled, and the control serves only to heighten the emotional content of the satire. The structure of the work is complex: it purports to be an extract from a letter of a British captain, Gerrish, which frames a letter of James Craufurd,a British soldier, to Governor Haldimand of Canada, Craufurd’s letter, in turn, contains one from Chief Conejogatchie beseeching the governor to petition King George for Indian succor...”

“The second edition of the “Supplement’ offers a letter from privateer John Paul Jones to Sir Joseph York, British ambassador to Holland. Although his letter details the causes of the Revolution, it is ... primarily a personal letter in which Jones defends his role in the war. Its most salient features are his forceful moral indignation and the seemingly unimpeachable logic with which he first clears himself of Sir Joseph’s charge that he is a pirate and then justifies the Revolution according to Whig principles ... Because a pirate makes war for rapine and because England has sought to appropriate the colonists’ property ... she is waging a piratical war...”

Listed in “The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907-21). Vol. 15. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I,” VI Franklin Bibliography, B. Separate Works: “1782. Numb. 705. Supplement To The Boston Independent Chronicle. Boston, March 12. Extract of a Letter from Capt. Gerrish, of the New-England Militia. (First Passy edition, folio sheet printed on one side.) Numb. 705. Supplement To The Boston Independent Chronicle. Boston March 12. Extract of a Letter from Capt. Gerrish …. [Also a copy of a Letter from Commodore Jones directed to Sir Joseph York.] (Second Passy edition, folio sheet printed on both sides. This edition was reproduced on a folio sheet inserted in Duane’s edition of Franklin’s works with the following heading: ‘Volume VII. Number 1095. Supplement to the Boston Chronicle. Monday, March 13, 1782.’ This heading was erroneously given by Ford as that of the Passy edition.)” Paul L. Ford compiled the “Franklin Bibliography” (Brooklyn: 1899). In 1817, a reprinting of this issue was included in “The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, in Philosophy, Politics, and Morals” by Benjamin Franklin and William Temple Franklin (William Duane: Philadelphia, 1817). The newspaper here offered, including both the first and second edition of the “Supplement,” printed on both sides of a folio sheet, was included in the six volume tome published in 1817.

According to the January 14, 1783 edition of the “Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer” (photocopy present), the “London General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer” of June 29, 1782, published, “from the Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle,” the “Extract of a letter from Captain Gerrish, of the New-England Militia, dated Albany, March 7” as fact in its entirety. Over 100 years later, the July 3, 1887 edition of the “Philadelphia Times” also published the letter in full, not saying it had been printed in the “Chronicle,” assuring its readers that it “was found in the baggage of General Burgoyne after his surrender to General Gates ... was probably sent by an Indian runner to Burgoyne, to be forwarded to the governor” and that Craufurd “was probably a resident British agent with the Senecas.” The “Times” left out the year of Craufurd’s letter since Burgoyne surrendered to Gates in 1777.

Ex-Guthman. Previously owned by Bill Guthman, museum consultant and the leading dealer in historical and military Americana of the Colonial and Federal period who believed it to be authentic. The following is penciled by him on the blank cover of the 9” x 14.75” folder in which he kept this newspaper: “*Rare Newspaper Supplement / supposed to have been printed / by B. Franklin at his / Passy (France) Press for / propaganda - / This is rarer than / another known hoax / printing supposed by Franklin, / ‘Boston Independent Chronicle’ / March 12, 1782 / Value at $6000 – 8/6/75 / NFS! / 9/14/76 / Bought from Joe Kindig [York, Pa. antique dealer] for $3000 cash / + Scottish silver mtd F/L Fowler / and York Horn with engraved / eagle.”
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