he was presenting demands to the British or negotiating
an alliance with France,
Ben Franklin was America's premier diplomat.
Benjamin Franklin in Paris
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
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Act was repealed.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.
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
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.
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.