"Sorrows Roll upon Me Like the, Waves of the Sea"
I never can forget that you have not only been the best of Brothers but as a tender Father to me and mine. --Jane Mecom to Franklin, December 30, 1765
THREE THOUSAND MILES OF OCEAN were not enough to insulate Franklin from the continuing misfortunes of the Mecoms. Unlike his Boston cousins, Jonathan and Josiah Williams, Benny Mecom, the problem nephew, had no capacity for sustained work--only a firm trust that the great man would somehow descend like a deity to reverse the downward saga of his life.
After his years in Antigua and his brief success in Boston, Benny, forever restless though married and many times a father, had decided in 1763 to try his luck as a newspaper publisher in New York. Within a year he was bankrupt and his uncle had the unpleasant task of informing Strahan that after the sale of Benny's assets (including the press brought back from Antigua), the creditors would be lucky to receive four shillings out of every pound owed them. "He seems so dejected and spiritless that I fear little will be got of him."1
Still, Franklin felt it incumbent upon him to bail out his nephew and help him make a fresh start, this time in New Haven. Benny's former master, James Parker, had been promoted from postmaster of New Haven to comptroller of the whole colonial system, and Benny was given the vacant postmastership. He also took a four-year lease on the printing office his uncle had equipped for him years earlier and had then sold to Parker when it became apparent that neither Benny nor Jemmy Franklin wanted it.
Thus Benny who had hated Parker in the days of his apprenticeship and had escaped from under his yoke by going to Antigua was again submitted to the authority of his old master. While Franklin who had