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Copy of a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Dr B Rush and Dr J Potts, made by D. Lewis

Identifier: Coll-1466

Scope and Contents

The copy of the letter is dated 1 April 1882 below the statement that it 'is an exact copy of the copy of the original letter as made by D. Lewis', 1 December 1859.

The original letter was written in London 20 December 1766 by Dr. Benjamin Franklin and was addressed to Dr. Benjamin Rush and Dr. Jonathan Potts. It refers to letters of introduction to several of Franklin's friends in Edinburgh. At the same time he states that 'you will be your own best frtiends if you apply diligently to your studies, refraining from all idle useless amusements'. The letter continues in this vein and then talks of the 'great advantages in going to study at Edinburgh at this time, where there happens to be collected a set of truly great men'.


  • Creation: 1766-1882

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston on 17 January 1706, was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university. He was one of the United States Ministers to France from 1778-1785, and to Sweden from 1782-1783. He had been Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1764, and was the 6th President of Pennsylvania between 1785 and 1788. He had also been the first US Postmaster General. Dr. Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia on 17 April 1790.

Benjamin Rush was also one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was born in Philadelphia on 4 January 1746. Rush lived in the state of Pennsylvania and was a physician, writer, educator, humanitarian, as well as the founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He studied at Princeton and at Edinburgh University. Rush signed the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress. He served as Surgeon General in the Continental army, and was blamed for criticising George Washington. Later in life, Rush became a professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Benjamin Rush died in Philadelphia on 19 April 1813.

Jonathan Potts was born in Pennsylvania in 1745. He studied at Edinburgh University (its Medical School). He had also studied at the first school of medicine in America, the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1768. He had been in the first graduating class. Dr. Potts was given command of the Fort George General Hospital, the single largest hospital in North America at the time. His efforts returned hundreds of men to the Continental Army at a critical moment in American history. He made a major and substantial contribution to American victory on Lake Champlain in 1776. Dr. Jonathan Potts died in 1781.


1 folder

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original accession was possibly 1957. Given shelfmark: Phot.575F. New Accession no: E2013.37

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 22 August 2013

Letter from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) written in 1766, addressed to Dr. Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) and Dr. Jonathan Potts (1745-1781), and copied in 1859 by D. Lewis, and subsequently copied 1882.
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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