Benjamin Franklin


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More on Franklin

 Benjamin Franklin:
An American LIfe

by Walter Isaacson

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a great new biography of this fascinating "founding father"

NT Times Bestseller


Benjamin Franklin
by Edmund S. Morgan

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an excellent biography of Benjamin Franklin - published just before  Benjamin Franklin:
An American Life

by Walter Isaacson

NY Times Bestseller

 


HistoryMakers
We may despise them or admire them, but these fascinating pivotal people are part of the story in history.

Benjamin Franklin - American Founding Father

Whether he was presenting demands to the British or  negotiating an alliance with France, Ben Franklin was America's premier diplomat.

Benjamin Franklin in Paris
Benjamin Franklin in Paris

Benjamin Franklin had a colorful personality and was an unlikely revolutionary. His opinions were moderate, and he usually kept them to themselves. British taxation did not horrigy him, and he saw America's future as more equal part of the British Empire. He spent 15 years in England before the revolution as a lobbyist and considered himself a loyal Englishman as well as a loyal citizen of Philadelphia. This was generally true of the colonists. People would often refer to going to England as "going home." The Stamp Act was the beginning of a change of mind for Franklin. He attempted to explain to Parliament why the colonists were so resistant to the tax, and in fact the Stamp Act was repealed. (Franklin's speech to Parliament). Gradually Franklin became a passionate patriot. By 1774 he was committed - he had been humiliated in a session of the privy council and branded a traitor. His loyalty was to America and he went home - this time "going home" meant Philadelphia.

The Second Continental Congress sent Franklin to Paris to secure any money, materials and assistance he could. He was extremely popular in France and very successful in his mission. The American cause was embraced by the Parisian salons during the Enlightenment, where the French philosophes had popularized such ideas as equality, liberty and freedom of religion. To the French, Franklin was in many ways the embodiement of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "noble savage." They saw America as a land where man's true good nature was manifest, free from the decadence of European civilization. Franklin was its noblest representative and became a folk hero. The French were inspired by the American example and within 8 years of the American victory, began their own revolution.

When it came time to approve the new Constitution, Franklin was not entirely happy about it, but he accepted it. ''The older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others,'' he remarked as the convention drew to a close. ''Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.'' Practical as always.

Return to The Stamp Act

Franklin's speech to Parliament

The American Revolution

American Revolution Primary Source

Part of These United Colonies: The American War of Independence exhibit

The American Revolution

American Revolution Primary Sources

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