8
COMIC RELEASE
1783–1785

The war ended with a preliminary agreement, 20 January 1783,
but Franklin had little peace. Since the summer of 1781, worn out
by the ills of old age and sick of bickering with members of his
own delegation, especially John Adams, he had been petitioning
Congress to relieve him. Congressmen influenced by Adams and
former commissioner Arthur Lee argued that Franklin’s popular-
ity in France proved that he was a covert French agent. They
wished to recall him, but an opposite and equal faction wished to
recall Adams. The impasse dissolved in mid-March 1785, when
they named Adams ambassador to Britain and finally granted
Franklin permission to go home. Until that time, although immo-
bilized by gout, kidney stones, and prostatitis, he served valiantly
as the United States ambassador, “being oblig’d to perform all the
Functions of Consul, Judge of Admiralty, Merchant, Banker, &c.
&C”1 He prepared pamphlets about America and Americans and,
as a scientist, spent five months working on an eighty-page report
for the king of France on mesmerism. He routinely attended
cultural and scientific meetings and kept up correspondence with
other scientists worldwide, including at least a hundred letters
from Jan Ingenhouse, Dutch physician to Empress Maria Theresa
of Austria.2

With no further need to attack the British government,

-137-

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Benjamin Franklin's Humor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - A Life in Laughter 1
  • 1- Silence Dogood 1722–1723 11
  • 2- Paragraphs in Philadelphia 1729–1735 27
  • 3- Philadelphia’s Poor Richard 1733–1748 47
  • 4- Philadelphia Comic Relief 1748–1757 65
  • 5- Making Friends Overseas 1757–1774 85
  • 6- Losing London 1773–1776 103
  • 7- Seducing Paris 1776–1782 119
  • 8- Comic Release 1783–1785 137
  • 9- Revising Past and Future 1786–1790 153
  • Notes 169
  • Sources 175
  • Index 181
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