Sarah Franklin Bache

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Sarah Franklin Bache
Sarah Franklin Bache1793.jpg
Sarah Franklin Bache
by John Hoppner, 2012
Born (1743-09-11)September 11, 1743
Died October 5, 1808(1808-10-05) (aged 65)
Residence Philadelphia
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Richard Bache
Parent(s) Benjamin Franklin
Deborah Read

Sarah Franklin “Sally” Bache (September 11, 1744 – October 5, 1808) was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read. She was a leader in relief work during the American Revolutionary War and frequently served as her father's political hostess, as her mother had died in 1774.

Early life and education

Born Sarah Franklin and known as "Sally" throughout her life, she was the only surviving child of her parents, Deborah Read and Benjamin Franklin. Their son Francis Franklin died of smallpox at age four. Also in their household was her older half-brother William Franklin, her father's illegitimate son whom her parents raised from infancy. She was carefully educated by her father about political life.

Marriage and family

Sarah married Richard Bache on October 29, 1767, although her family was worried about his financial position. The couple had eight children together:[1]

  • Benjamin Franklin Bache (b. 1769, d. 1798, during the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic). A publisher, he was jailed and awaiting trial under the Sedition Act at the time of his death. Married to Margaret Markoe.
  • William Franklin Bache (31 May 1773 – 1814), married Catherine Wistar.
  • Sarah Franklin Bache (1 December 1775 – 17 August 1776)[2]
  • Eliza Franklin Bache (10 September 1777 – 1820) married John Harwood.
  • Louis Franklin Bache (7 October 1779 – 4 October 1818), married Margaret Riley (1781–1806). He was a Lt. Col. in the Pennsylvania State Militia Volunteers during the War of 1812. Assigned by Pennsylvania Gov. Snyder to defend the City of Philadelphia against the British.[3]
  • Deborah Franklin Bache (1 October 1781 – 12 February 1863 ) married William J. Duane, a lawyer who was appointed as the 11th United States Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Richard Franklin Bache (11 March 1784 – 17 March 1848), married Sophia Durrell Dallas, the eldest daughter of Arabella Maria Smith and Alexander J. Dallas. Bache, Jr. became a politician in Texas.
  • Sarah Franklin Bache (12 September 1788 – 6 October 1863), married Thomas Sergeant (1782–1860), who later was appointed as an associate justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and postmaster of Philadelphia.[4]

Revolutionary War years

Sarah Bache was an ardent Patriot during the American Revolutionary War. She did extensive relief work. After her father's return in 1775 from a diplomatic mission to France, she frequently acted as his political hostess, as her mother had died in 1774.

She raised money for the Continental Army and is known for her involvement in the Ladies Association of Philadelphia. In 1780, under her leadership, the group made 2,200 shirts for the soldiers in the Continental Army at the army's winter quarters at Valley Forge. The women often met to work together at The Cliffs, a country estate owned by Samuel R. Fisher on the Schuylkill River, two miles north of Philadelphia.

Personal life

Bache loved music and reading, and was considered a skilled harpsichordist. When her father died in 1790, he left most of his estate to her. Among the items bequeathed to her was a small portrait of Louis XVI surrounded by diamonds, which she sold to finance a trip to London. In 1794, she and her family moved to a farm outside Philadelphia, to the north along the Delaware River.

Sarah Franklin Bache died in 1808 and is buried in Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia.


  1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin, Appendix 1
  2. "Women of the American Revolution: Sarah Bache", American Revolution website
  3. Carl Edward Skeen, "Citizen Soldiers in the War of 1812," Ch. 8, Federal-State Relations, Vol. 1998, p. 141,
  4. Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, Volume 7, p. 16

Further reading

  • "Bache and Wistar Family Correspondence 1777-1895", Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library
  • Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Article in The Evening Bulletin, November 22, 1971, on the plans to convert The Cliffs to an historic farm.
  • Article in The Evening Bulletin, January 27, 1975, on the plans to restore 16 historic houses, including The Cliffs.
  • Article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 1986, on the burning of The Cliffs.

External links