I spent more than thirty years reading Benjamin Franklin's mail. From July 1977 until my retirement in June 2008, I helped to edit some 20 volumes of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, an ongoing 47-volume edition of his writings and correspondence. While doing research on the letters he sent and received during the American Revolution, I often was struck by how one-sided is the traditional picture of Franklin, particularly during the Revolution. Most readers are quite familiar with his softer side—his affability, his flirting with the ladies of Paris during a nine-year diplomatic mission to France, his sense of humor, and his conciliatory nature, which so smoothed the working of the Franco-American alliance. All of this is true about him, but it is only half of the picture. It tends to make Franklin a bystander to the violence, danger, and suffering of the Revolution. Franklin actually was a leader of that revolution; indeed, with the exception of George Washington, he was its most irreplaceable leader. He could not have made this contribution to American independence without a lesserknown tougher side from which he drew his strength. The traditional picture of Franklin does not adequately portray his confidence and self-righteousness about himself and the American cause, his almost fanatical
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Publication information: Book title: Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution. Contributors: Jonathan R. Dull - Author. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 2010. Page number: vii.
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