Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution

By Jonathan R. Dull | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
Two Missions to England

I

FRANKLIN HAD ALMOST twenty-five years of political experience when the American Revolution began. Most important were his missions to England on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1757 to 1762 and from the end of 1764 to 1775. These missions were almost complete failures, partly because of Franklin's inexperience and poor judgment. In several ways, however, they were a vital prelude to his services to the American Revolution. First, in spite of Franklin's failures, his missions added to his reputation outside Philadelphia, transforming him from a local politician into a figure of great importance to all of the American colonies. Second, the experience he gained and the lessons he learned from his failure were of enormous help to him, particularly during his nine-year mission to France (from late 1776 until the middle of 1785) on behalf of Congress. Third, his missions reinforced his loyalty to America and cured him of the illusion that he could preserve his ideals while still being accepted by the wealthy and powerful of England. Fourth, the missions toughened him and helped make him a revolutionary. The zealous and angry Franklin of 1775 with his openness to change and democracy was partly the

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