History Center Lecture about Ben Franklin Focuses on Long-Lost Letters

By Karlovits, Bob | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

History Center Lecture about Ben Franklin Focuses on Long-Lost Letters


Karlovits, Bob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Historian Alan Houston says his unearthing of some "buried treasure" about Benjamin Franklin was "the most exciting discovery ever" in his work as a scholar.

The provost of the Eleanor Roosevelt College and professor of political science at the University of California-San Diego will share that finding Thursday in a free lecture at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Houston is the researcher who came across letters to and from Franklin that explain the true nature of the inventor-author- statesman's efforts to supply wagons for Gen. Edward Braddock's ill- fated attempt to capture Fort Duquesne in 1755.

A routine explanation of that job is in Franklin's autobiography, but letters Houston found in 2007 detail how he convinced Western Pennsylvania farmers to supply the rolling stock. They also tell of how some of them played a waiting game to see if the "rent" Franklin was offering might go up.

His lecture is being offered in conjunction with the center's display of "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," which is there through July 31. People attending the lecture will be offered admission to the Franklin exhibit afterward. …

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