Jane Franklin Mecom was the younger sister of Benjamin Franklin. “my peculiar favorite,” he dubbed her. Jane married Edward Mecom, a small tradesman, in 1727. Over a period of twenty-two years they had twelve children. Jane also looked after her parents, took in boarders, and ran a small shop to make ends meet. Her life was not an easy or a happy one: her husband was apparently sick, her sons unable to make their way in life, several of her daughters died after giving birth. Although “Sorrow roll upon me like the waves of the sea,” and “Nothing but troble can you her from me,” she delighted in her correspondence with her brother even though she confessed “I have such a Poor Fackulty at making Leters.” She was proud of Benjamin and he was supportive of her and her family. She described the situation in Boston in 1774 in a letter he wrote to him.
Boston Novr 3 1774My Ever Dear Brother
I have Just recd yrs of August 18; wonder to see you complain of not receiving leters from Boston . . . it is like they have been Intercepted . . . I think it is not Profanity to compare you to our Blessed Saviour who Employed much of His time while here on Earth in doing Good to the body as well as souls of men, & I am sure I think the comparison Just, often when I hear the calumny Invented & thrown out against you while you are Improving all your Powers for the Salvation of them very Persons . . . I am as Happy as the Present state of affairs will Permit owing to your Bounty without which I must have been distressed as much as many others; Docter Chauncy says we have already had miracles wrought in our favour, one of which is the Uniting of the Colonies in such a manner, another the Extraordinary fruitful seasons & Bounty of our friends & looks on it as a token of Gods Design to deliver us out of all our troubles, but at Present we have a meloncholy Prospect for this winter at Least.
The towns being so full of Profligate soldiers & many such Officers, there is hardly four & twenty hours Passes without some fray amongst them & one can walk but a little way in the street without hearing their Profane language. We were much surprised the other day upon hearing a Tumult in the street & looking out saw a soldier all Bloody damning His Eyes but He would kill Every Inhabitant He met, & Pressing into a shop opposite us with His Bayonet drawn, bursting through the Glass Door, & the man of the house pushing Him out & he to do what mischief He could, Dashing the china & Earthenware which stood on the window, through the sashes with the most terrible Imprecations. The case it seems was He Perceived they sold liquor & went into the House Demanding some. But being refused, He went into the closet & took out a gun & said His commanding officer told Him he might take any thing out of any house He had a mind to, upon which the battle Ensued, & the man & His servant were both very much wounded. . . .
I think our Congress Address to the People of England is a Grand Performance & does them Honour & shows there was Really the wisdom among them that the Colonies Endeavored to collect, which Joined with yours . . . will, I hope, work some Glorious Effect. . . .
I have had no letter from Philadelphia a long time though I have written several times. The last I wrote, I heard my sister [Deborah Franklin*] Put under her cushion, I suppose in order to Read at more Leisure & Perhaps never thought of it more & one of the children got it & tore it up, as we know my sister is very forgetful. . . . yr Ever Affectionat & obliged Sister
*Deborah Franklin died in December, 1774.
The letter can be found on pages 27 and 28 of In the Words of Women. Jill Lepore has written about Jane although it was hard to locate documents attributed to her: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (New York: Vintage, 2014)