Description[Benjamin Franklin] Memorial by William H. Vernon Jr. One and three-fourths pages, n.p., n.d. [ca. April 1790]. This commemorative draft, with heading, "Dr. Franklin. Cursory thoughts on", includes a detailed description of Franklin's famous visit, as a guest of Lord Chatham, to the House of Lords in 1775. In that visit, Franklin was singled-out and treated to an impertinent personal attack by Lord Sandwich. Vernon honors the great American statesman by memorializing his Socratic response to the British lord. "We honor our country when we respect the memory of Doct. Franklin; for his saying are cited every where & he has given lessons of wisdom to the world. His character and Talents are even more respected in Europe than in the Country which gave him birth. The reason of this is, that he is less read and consequently less known at home than abroad. . . . He was frequently consulted by Lord Chatham, who had the greatest deference for his opinions. . . . On the 1st of January 1775, leaning upon Doctor Franklin's are, he entered the house of Lords, then crowded with spectators attracted from all parts of the kingdom to hear that Orator's famous motion of conciliation with the American Colonies. . . . Lord Sandwich hastily rose and in a passionate speech rudely replied that 'the motion of Chatham could not be the production of a British Peer.' He then turned towards the venerable Franklin, who was at that moment leaning upon the bar, and to the amazement of the learned audience, indecorously exclaimed, 'I fancy that I have in my eye the person who drew it; one of [...] bitterest and most mischievous enemies that this Country has ever [...].' Doctor Franklin was calm as Socrates. . . ."
William H. Vernon Jr. was the son of wealthy merchant and slave trader William Vernon from Newport, Rhode Island. The family had been friends of Benjamin Franklin. When Vernon Jr. visited France in the late 1770s, Franklin, America's ambassador to that important ally, introduced him to the French nobility in Paris. This document exhibits some weakness at the folds; the lower left corner has been removed, causing the loss of a small amount of text. From the Papers of William Vernon.
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