Of all the Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin is the most puzzling, the most difficult to understand and explain. He is a bundle of contradictions. At one and the same time he seems to be the most American and the least American of the Revolutionary leaders. He is the classic American success story, the prototypal self-made man, rising from obscure origins to great preeminence. He began as a printer’s apprentice, the son of an insignificant tallow chandler and soapmaker, and became so rich and successful as a publisher of newspapers and books that he could retire at the age of forty-two. Despite his dramatic rise, however, he seems to later generations never to have shed his lowly origins. Of all the Founding Fathers he seems the most folksy, the most popular, the one with the greatest common touch. Ordinary Americans today seem to be able to identify with him in a way they cannot with Washington or Jefferson. He remains the most rustic, bourgeois, and democratic of the Founders.
Yet this homespun, hardworking, prototypal American was at the same time the most European, the most cosmopolitan, the most sophisticated, indeed, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers. (In the Constitutional Convention, for example, he proposed that all members of the executive branch in the new federal government serve without pay.) He became an internationally renowned scientist who moved in the highest circles of the British and European nobility. He conversed with kings and even dined with one. He loved England and Europe and spent most of the last thirty-three years of his life living abroad, far away from America. At several points it was doubtful whether he would ever return to America, or wanted to, or even cared much about America.
Franklin was the least likely of revolutionaries. Certainly compared to the other leaders his participation in the Revolution is the hardest to explain. First of all, he was an old man—seventy years of age in 1776, not the age when we think of men becoming revolutionaries. He was twenty-six years older than Washington, twenty-nine years older than John Adams, thirty-seven years older than Jefferson, and nearly a half-century older than Madison and Hamilton. More important, unlike the other Revolutionary leaders, who were young men virtually unknown outside of their little provinces, Franklin already had an established worldwide reputation. He was known all over Britain and Europe for his scientific work on electricity. He had received honorary degrees from St. Andrews and Oxford and was a member of the leading learned societies of Europe. By the time of the Revolution he was already an international celebrity, and of course he had no way of knowing what a great folk hero he would become. None of the Founding Fathers had so much to lose and so little to gain. We can generally comprehend the personal motives of the other Revolutionary leaders, but Franklin is different. He alone already had the position and the prospect of fame that the others could only yearn for. Since Franklin could scarcely have foreseen how much the Revolution would enhance his reputation, why at his age would he have risked so much? How and why did this cosmopolitan imperial enthusiast become an American patriot?
We do not usually ask why Franklin became an American revolutionary. We take his Americanism for granted. Indeed, he is usually so identified with America that we can scarcely think of him in any other way. But this is a problem of history. He is so overlaid with two hundred years of interpretations, symbols, and images that we have difficulty getting through to the authentic historical Franklin.1 Despite hundreds upon hundreds of studies of all aspects of Franklin and despite the magnificent ongoing publication of his papers by the Yale University Press, we hardly know the man.
Franklin wrote an Autobiography and lots of letters; indeed, Yale University Press has published thirty-one volumes of his papers and is only up to 1780. But despite this huge body of writings he never truly reveals much of himself. He always seems to be calculating and holding something of himself back—characteristics of restraint bred perhaps by his spectacular rise and the kind of patronage-dominated world he had to operate in. In his personal writings, especially in his Autobiography, he assumes so many roles and personae that it is difficult to know how to read him. Is he serious? Or is he ironical? Behind all the masks we do not know who he really is. “Many-sided” is the best we can do. He has certainly come to stand for America in all its many-sidedness in a way none of the other Founding Fathers has.
For many Americans throughout our history, and especially in our own time, the Poor Richard side of Franklin, who preached frugality, industry, and thrift in the “Almanack” he published between 1732 and 1757, has not been much valued. Imaginative writers and sensitive souls from Poe and Melville through Twain and D.H. Lawrence have ridiculed Franklin as the embodiment of America’s middle-class complacency, its get-ahead materialism, its utilitarian obsession with success. Yet, as Robert Middlekauff, professor of history at Berkeley, points out in his neat little book, these nineteenth- and twentieth-century criticisms of Franklin were not those of his eighteenth-century enemies. Franklin’s Autobiography was not published until after his death, and thus his eighteenth-century enemies did not know the folksy bourgeois character that we have come to know. They hated and feared a very different Franklin. Describing these enemies’ hatreds and fears of this eighteenth-century Franklin is the subject of Middlekauff’s book.
It is an ingenious subject, and Middlekauff develops it with elegance and grace. His writing has an easy conversational tone that hides the extensive research that lies behind it. He has a knack for compression and for summing up people, John Adams for example, in just a few paragraphs.
Middlekauff begins with a chapter on Franklin’s many friends. Franklin made friends easily and kept most of them his whole life. His extraordinary affability and curiosity drew people out and warmed them. And he could relate to all sorts, ranks, and ages of people. Children especially took to him and he to them. Women too: he flirted easily and charmed them. He had female friends his entire life, and as a widower of seventy-three he asked one of them, Madame Helvetius, to marry him. If she had accepted him, he would have remained in France for the rest of his days. Despite his generous capacity for friendship, however, Franklin, Middlekauff says, was “not all sunshine and light.” He had another passionate side that could attract and make enemies. He could love, but he could hate too. His enemies returned his hatred in kind.
His enemies, says Middlekauff, were mostly political enemies; they usually disliked Franklin for the very characteristics that have made him so impenetrable to us—his deep reserve, his wearing of masks, his playing of roles. He was devious and duplicitous. He could not be trusted. His loyalties were questionable. Who was he anyhow and what did he really believe in? He seemed more at home in London and Paris than in Philadelphia, and that made him suspect in many Americans’ eyes. John Adams, when he got to know him during the peace negotiations in France, especially came to dislike Franklin. Adams’s impulsiveness and honesty contrasted sharply with Franklin’s reticence and secrecy. Adams thought he did all the work in France while Franklin got all the credit. Adams could never forgive Franklin his popularity with the French, and he wondered whether Franklin, that “old Conjurer,” was not more concerned with the interests of France than he was with those of America. Franklin’s personality seemed to breed mistrust.
Middlekauff obviously likes Adams, but he does not have much sympathy with Franklin’s other enemies in France, namely Arthur Lee and Ralph Izard, who are depicted with some justification as sick and jealous souls. But Franklin’s antagonisms in France were nothing compared to the long conflict he had with Thomas Penn, the greatest of his enemies and the one on whom Middlekauff concentrates. Penn was the son of the Quaker founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, William Penn, and the principal proprietor of the colony during Franklin’s lifetime. William Penn had obtained from Charles II, in payment of a debt owed Penn’s father, a charter giving him both feudal-like power to preside over his “holy experiment” and rights of ownership to his colony’s land. Thomas Penn had shed most of his father’s Quaker roots and had become a member of the Church of England. He spent a few years in America, but for the rest of his life he remained in England, appointed governors, and tried to run his province from afar.
In the process he and the proprietary interests in the colony, including William Smith, the first rector of the Philadelphia Academy, found themselves increasingly at odds with the so-called Quaker Party in the Pennsylvania assembly, a party often dominated by the non-Quaker Benjamin Franklin. The major issues at stake were how the colony’s defense was to be organized and the taxing of the proprietors’ lands. Because of the Quakers’ pacifism Franklin arranged for the colony’s militia to be supported by private means, independent of government. Penn naturally viewed this as a threat to the authority of his government and came to see Franklin as “a dangerous Man.” At the same time Franklin and the Quaker Party continually sought to tax the undeveloped proprietary lands in the province—a move stoutly resisted by Penn and his governors.
Middlekauff describes all this political wrangling with great economy and clarity. He does not like Penn at all (apparently Penn was such a cold and formal character that few people did), and he does not display much sympathy for Penn’s political positions and his associates. Indeed, Middlekauff often seems to suggest that Franklin’s enemies could have no objective reasons for hating the great man, that they were simply petty men who disliked someone larger than themselves. Franklin, on the other hand, is pictured as a remarkably good-natured and sensible fellow, “a rational man determined to see things honestly and clearly.” But in Penn’s case he hated with a passion, and the working out of the consequences of that passion takes up a good part of Middlekauff’s book.
Middlekauff finds Franklin’s obsessive hatred of Penn “surprising.” It was not like Franklin to let passion get the better of him: “His was a generous and calm spirit.” Indeed, so taken is Middlekauff with Franklin’s general affability and reasonableness that he can account for Franklin’s hatred of Penn only as some sort of extraordinary lapse, a temporary loss of good sense and judgment. “His feeling about Penn overcame all of his usual standards of conduct, skewed his vision, and set him on a course that he abandoned only after years of reckless behavior.”
In 1757 Franklin set out for England on a mission on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly to persuade Penn to give up his power to instruct the governor and to allow the assembly to tax his proprietary lands in the colony. When negotiations with Penn in London broke down, Franklin began to think that he might be able to take the colony away from Penn. By the 1760s he and the dominant members of the assembly were working to revoke Pennsylvania’s proprietary charter and to transform the province into a royal colony under direct Crown authority. Franklin and others in Pennsylvania had come to believe, naively perhaps but nevertheless sincerely, that the people of Pennsylvania, in comparison with the other colonists, were seriously disadvantaged in being ruled by a feudal-like proprietor.
This effort to make Pennsylvania a royal colony is what Middlekauff means by Franklin’s “reckless behavior.” As far as Middlekauff is concerned, Franklin’s attempt to put the proprietary colony under the control of the Crown was mostly motivated by personal pique; it was “irrational,” something “shaped by delusions and anger.” Franklin should have known better. His promotion of a Crown takeover was a mistake from beginning to end. On this matter, Middlekauff says over and over, Franklin’s usual good judgment and clear vision left him. His foolish actions can be explained only by his deep hatred of Penn, “a hatred so powerful as to overcome his reason.” If he had “not been blinded by passion,” concludes Middlekauff, he would have seen the dire consequences of royalizing the colony.
In retrospect, of course, Franklin’s efforts to make Pennsylvania a royal colony in the 1760s do look rather futile and foolish. But at the time they did not seem so to Franklin and to others. It was not at all foolish or unreasonable for him to want to enhance royal authority and tighten the bonds of the Empire by eliminating an anachronistic private interest like that of the Penn’s proprietary charter. Although there were some Pennsylvanians, including John Dickinson, who warned of the dangers of losing the proprietary charter, few saw the conflicts with the Crown of the early 1760s as the prelude to the breakup of the British Empire. In fact, there were many Americans in 1760 who were quite loyal to the Empire and to the King. Franklin was one of the most loyal of all.
In the 1750s and early 1760s Franklin was very much the imperialist. He had an emotional commitment to the Empire, a grand vision of a pan-British world, that was rivaled perhaps only by that of William Pitt. Few Englishmen were more proud of being English and few were more devoted to the English monarchy. In the early 1760s it is hard to see any difference at all between Franklin and the man who eventually became the symbol to Americans of the arch-loyalist, Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts. Both Franklin and Hutchinson were patrons of the Enlightenment, literate, reasonable men with a deep dislike of religious enthusiasm. Both were dedicated to the Empire and had collaborated in putting together, in 1754, the ill-fated, imperial-minded Albany Plan of Union (which called for a central government composed of a president-general to be appointed by the Crown and a “grand council” to be appointed by the colonial assemblies). Both Franklin and Hutchinson were getting-along men, believers in prudence, calculation, affability, and the acting of parts in an eighteenth-century manner. Both were confident of the power of a few reasonable men to run affairs and settle problems. Both regarded the common people with a certain patronizing amusement—unless they rioted: then both were disgusted. In 1760 it would have been very hard to predict that the paths of Franklin and Hutchinson would so diverge.
When Franklin retired from the publishing business in 1748, at the age of forty-two, to become a gentleman, he says that he thought he would do what other gentlemen did—engage in “Philosophical Studies and Amusements,” and, as he told fellow scientist and imperial official Cadwallader Colden, “converse at large with such ingenious and worthy Men, as are pleas’d to honour me with their Friendship or Acquaintance, on such Points as may produce something for the common Benefit of Mankind.” In this mood he made his significant contributions to the scientific understanding of electricity. But as a gentleman, he knew he had other kinds of obligations as well. As he tells us in his Autobiography, “the Publick, now considering me as a Man of Leisure, laid hold of me for their Purposes,” and went on to elect him to a number of political offices. He was not unhappy with these offices. Quite the contrary. As much as he valued his scientific achievements, he believed that they could never take the place of government service. In 1750 he warned Colden not to let his love of science interfere with his public duties. Even Newton, he said, if he had held public office, would not have been justified in using “the finest of his Discoveries” as an excuse for abandoning his public responsibilities.
By the mid-1750s Franklin’s eye was on the higher reaches of the British Empire. In 1753 he had become deputy postmaster in America, but he obviously wanted more. “Life,” he wrote in 1756, was “like a dramatic Piece,” and thus “should finish handsomely. Being now in the last Act, I begin to cast about for something fit to end with.” He wanted a role in the most important and dramatic production of the eighteenth century—the extraordinary expansion of the British Empire. He shared the vision of William Pitt and the young George III of the possibility of a new kind of patriotic politics. He had great confidence in the integrity of the British Empire and the beneficence of the royal officials at Whitehall. He was sure that if only reasonable, right-thinking men, men like himself, could gain control of affairs, they could introduce “less partial, more generous and sounder Politicks,” and make this Anglo-Saxon empire a dominion of unprecedented greatness.
In light of Franklin’s identification with the Revolution and the American folk hero he would later become, it is embarrassing to read his correspondence of the 1750s and early 1760s. He was exasperated by the petty disputes between the colonial assemblies and the colonial governors. He wanted something like the Albany Plan of Union enacted independently by the cabinet and Parliament and simply imposed on the colonies. “I doubt not but they will make a good one,” he said. Although in his mission of 1757 he was ostensibly the agent of the Pennsylvania assembly, he was in spirit the King’s man. No one could have been more loyal. His “political Faith,” he said, “is that what our Superiors think best for us, is really best.” His confidence in the virtue and good sense of politicians at the highest levels of the British government was so great that it bewildered and amazed even some of his English friends. He even prominently displayed in his Philadelphia house a picture of George III’s dearest friend and chief minister in 1762, Lord Bute, and bragged of his acquaintance with him.
Franklin was the complete Anglophile in these years. Other colonial Americans visiting London such as Charles Carroll or John Dickinson often expressed disgust with the luxury and corruption they perceived in English life. But not Franklin. Indeed, his letters are filled instead with disparaging comments about the provinciality and vulgarity of America in contrast with the sophistication of England. England, “that little Island,” he wrote in 1763, enjoyed “in almost every Neighbourhood, more sensible, virtuous and elegant Minds, than we can collect in ranging 100 Leagues of our vast Forests.” No one brought up in England, he said, could ever be happy in America. He talked endlessly of staying in England. When he knew he had to go back to Pennsylvania in 1762, he vowed he would return.
In the early 1760s Franklin was very much the loyalist and royal supporter. He had no inkling of the impending imperial crisis and no sense as yet of any disparity of interests between Britain and her colonies. Some of his closest allies were imperial officials and royal supporters. In 1762, in no small part thanks to his influence, his son William at age thirty-two was appointed royal governor of New Jersey. Franklin seems to have had his own sights on an imperial office. In fact, some thought that he wanted Pennsylvania to become a royal colony so that he could become royal governor.
If participating in the British Empire fulfilled Franklin’s greatest dreams, then his strenuous efforts to make Pennsylvania a royal colony do not seem quite as “irrational” as Middlekauff suggests. Franklin seems to have had reasons other than his hatred of Penn for his actions. Of course, Middlekauff knows a future that Franklin could not have known, and thus he cannot credit Franklin’s vision of the British Empire as a realistic one. It was a “romantic” vision. In fact, he says, if Franklin had “not been so romantic an imperialist,” he would have seen the dangerous implications of remaining subjects of British royal arrogance. Loyalty to the British Empire does not seem to be something a reasonable and sensible American could have sustained.
David T. Morgan’s book covers much of the same ground as Middlekauff’s but in much greater detail, and the tone is different. Morgan, professor of history at the University of Montevallo, Alabama, is much less admiring and much more critical of Franklin, but he is not a debunker either. His judgments are shrewd and careful; he stays close to the evidence and avoids the outlandish charges some historians have leveled against Franklin. As his title, The Devious Dr. Franklin, suggests, however, he sees a lot of duplicity in the great man. For example, he says, Franklin, “devious man that he was,” kept telling his colleagues back in Pennsylvania that the effort to royalize the colony was proceeding even when he knew it was a lost cause. “If he had told the truth,” concludes Morgan, “there would have been no excuse for him to remain in London.”
And remain in London was what Franklin wanted to do more than anything. If he could have talked his long-suffering wife, Deborah, into sailing across the Atlantic to London, he might never have returned to Pennsylvania in 1762.2 But by 1764 he was back in London once again lobbying for the royalization of Pennsylvania. And he ran smack into the Stamp Act and almost ruined himself in American eyes.
Historians have usually praised Franklin for his good sense and wisdom as a politician. He is seen as a level-headed, sensible man, a pragmatic compromiser who knew how to get things done. Certainly the political skills he demonstrated as minister to France during the Revolution were of the highest order. To induce the French monarchy to sign a military alliance with the new republic against Britain was probably the greatest diplomatic achievement in American history. Yet these diplomatic skills—involving a few reasonable men sitting around making reasonable decisions without having to answer to a passionate populace—were not those needed during the imperial crisis of the 1760s. Franklin, the elitist politician par excellence, never fully comprehended that fact. His involvement in the Stamp Act in 1765 revealed his misunderstanding of popular government and the weakness of his elitist approach to politics.
Like the other colonial agents, he naturally opposed the act, which proposed to tax a variety of colonial items, including newspapers, licenses, indentures, playing cards, and so on. But when Franklin saw that passage of the tax was inevitable, he sought to make the best of the situation and procured for his friend John Hughes the stamp agency in Philadelphia. He almost cost Hughes his life. Franklin was shocked at the mobs that effectively prevented enforcement of the Stamp Act everywhere in the North American continent. Not only was he wholly out of touch with colonial feelings, but the comments he made to Hughes reveal how much of a devoted royalist he was. He told Hughes to remain cool in the face of the mobbing. “A firm Loyalty to the Crown and faithful Adherence to the Government of this Nation…,” he said, “will always be the wisest Course for you and I to take, whatever may be the Madness of the Populace or their blind Leaders.” Only his four-hour testimony before Parliament denouncing the act in 1766 saved his reputation in America.
The experience shook Franklin, and his earlier confidence in the wisdom of British officials became increasingly punctuated by doubts and resentments. He bristled now at the “insolence, contempt, and abuse” that English officials heaped upon the colonists, and he began to feel his Americanism as never before. Morgan believes that the Stamp Act crisis made Franklin “realize that his ultimate loyalty lay with the American colonies.” But surely this is too strong. For despite the widening gulf between the colonies and the mother country in the late 1760s, Franklin remained deeply ambivalent about his ultimate loyalty. He continued to work to make Pennsylvania a royal colony and to seek some place for himself in the British government. Although he told people in Pennsylvania, including his wife, who was dying and pleaded with him to come back, that he would soon return, he kept putting off the move. Since he repeatedly talked about only “visiting America,” he was never clear about leaving England permanently.
Suddenly, in the summer of 1768, the possibility of a sub-ministerial position was dangled before him. Lord North told him that if he could be persuaded to stay in England, the government hoped to “find some way of making it worth your while.” Franklin replied that he would “stay with pleasure if I could any ways be useful to government.” But Lord Hillsborough, who was opposed to Franklin’s land schemes for settling the West of North America, was head of the new American Department and blocked any appointment. Still, Franklin did not give up: elections occur, ministers change, and Hillsborough might be ousted from the British cabinet. It is in this setting that we can best understand Franklin’s remarkable interview with Hillsborough in January 1771—an interview that Franklin regarded as so significant that he immediately transcribed it in dramatic form. When Hillsborough coldly refused to accept Franklin’s credentials as the agent for the Massachusetts assembly, Franklin was stunned. For he realized that Hillsborough would never have taken such a step if he did not have the backing of the cabinet in general. His imperial aspirations seemed finally smashed.
Neither Middlekauff nor Morgan makes much of this interview, but they should have. It was in the aftermath of this failure that Franklin began thinking about his life. For the next six months Franklin was confused and dispirited. He seemed to lose all his zest and ambition and thought himself useless. He went on a series of journeys around the British Isles, and on a visit to a country house of a friend he began writing his Autobiography. The first part of his book, which takes him up to age twenty-five—the best part, most critics have agreed—was thus written in a mood of frustration and nostalgia. This opening section of his Autobiography became a salve for his wounds and a justification for his apparent failure in British politics. It was also an admonition to his high-living son, to whom it was addressed and who was continually badgering his father for money, to cut his expenses and do as his father had done.
But then the signals from the British government shifted: Hillsborough was ousted from the ministry, and Franklin once again became optimistic that he might play a part in imperial politics. He dropped the writing of his Autobiography, which he would not resume until 1784 in France, following the successful negotiation of the treaty establishing American independence. With imperial possibilities opening up once more Franklin became involved in the affair of the Hutchinson letters—an affair that ultimately destroyed his position in England.
In the late 1760s Thomas Hutchinson, then lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts, had written some letters to a friend in England urging that stern measures, including the abridging of English liberties in America, were needed to maintain the colonies’ dependency on Great Britain. Somehow Franklin got his hands on these letters and late in 1772 sent them to Massachusetts in order, as he said, to convince the American people that blame for the imperial crisis lay solely with a few mischievous colonial officials like Hutchinson; thus the ministers in London would be cleared of responsibility for the crisis and the way would be opened for rational settlement of the differences between the mother country and her colonies, a rational settlement that Franklin himself might be able to bring about.
Middlekauff, with his admiration for Franklin, cannot believe that Franklin really meant what he said. Morgan has no such doubts about Franklin’s vanity, and he readily admits that Franklin actually thought that he could head off the crisis. Franklin had lost none of his elitist confidence. In fact, contrary to much conventional wisdom, Franklin was not at all a shrewd politician or a discerning judge of popular passions, certainly not of the pre-Revolutionary passions of these years. To be sure, he was free of the wild suspicions and conspiratorial notions that beguiled many on both sides of the imperial conflict. But Franklin suffered from a naive confidence in the power of reason and a few good men to arrange complex matters. As late as 1775 he was still persuaded that the issues separating Britain and the colonies were “a Matter of Punctilio, which Two or three reasonable People might settle in half an Hour.” He had little or no comprehension of the structural forces and the popular passions that limited individual action. In the end he was convinced that the glorious Empire to which he had devoted so much of his life was broken by “the mangling hands of a few blundering ministers.”
The use he made of the Hutchinson letters was a gross miscalculation. On January 29, 1774, he was viciously and publicly attacked before the Privy Council by Alexander Wedderburn, the solicitor general, and two days later he was fired as deputy postmaster. Although for a few more months he continued vainly to try to save the Empire, advising even Lord Chatham on a last-ditch peace proposal, he finally came to realize that the Empire and his role in it were over. In March 1775 he sailed for America, and became a passionate patriot, more passionate than most.
The Revolution was a very personal matter for Franklin, more personal perhaps than it was for any of the other Revolutionary leaders. Even John Adams, who was no slouch himself when it came to hating, was startled by the degree of Franklin’s revolutionary fervor and his loathing of the King. Part of his passion was no doubt calculated. Franklin had to overcome suspicions that many of his countrymen had of him. Some thought his position in the 1760s and 1770s had been sufficiently ambiguous that he might not be a true patriot after all. Some even thought that he might be a British spy—a notion that a modern historian, Cecil B. Currey, has actually tried to promote.3 Overcoming these sorts of suspicions explains the extraordinary letter Franklin wrote in July 1775 to his life-long English friend William Strahan. “You and I were long Friends: You are now my Enemy, and I am, Yours,” he wrote. Since he was trying to convince his fellow Americans of his patriotism, he let people in Philadelphia see the letter; but, of course, he never sent it. Within months he was writing affectionately to Strahan.
Some of his anger and passion was calculated, but not all by any means. Franklin had his deepest aspirations thwarted by the officials of the British government, and he had been personally humiliated by them as none of the other Revolutionaries had been. His participation in the Revolution was a profoundly emotional affair. His letters written to friends during the war, as Middlekauff points out, “were not written to affect behavior or conduct; they were simply the effusions of a wounded and bitter spirit determined to find satisfaction.” He never forgave his son William for remaining loyal to the British Crown and went out of his way to wound him. His hatred, says Middlekauff, was “a hatred without reservations, a hatred that encompassed first a government and then an entire people.” But, according to Middlekauff, this hatred liberated him. It “freed him from his old romantic illusions about the English,” and helped to make him an American. We Americans can be thankful therefore for the lack of foresight shown by the British government in the 1760s in failing to make Franklin an offer he could not refuse.
June 6, 1996
For an interesting survey of the changing images of Franklin, see Nian-Sheng Huang, Benjamin Franklin in American Thought and Culture 1790-1990 (American Philosophical Society, 1994). ↩
Franklin’s treatment of members of his immediate family was deplorable by any standards. For a fascinating and authoritative account, see Claude-Anne Lopez and Eugenia W. Herbert, The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family (Norton, 1975). ↩
Cecil B. Currey, Code Number 72: Ben Franklin: Patriot or Spy? (Prentice-Hall, 1972). ↩