Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution

By Jonathan R. Dull | Go to book overview

Chapter One
From Rebelliousness to Prosperity

I

AS MANY SCHOLARS HAVE NOTED, Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most challenging of the founding fathers to understand.1 Even after thirty years of research I am not sure I really know him. He was very cautious about committing his feelings to writing and very good at keeping secrets. Relatively few of the letters he wrote during the first half of his life are extant, partly because British soldiers destroyed many of them. Franklin's parents and siblings provide us little evidence about his childhood and adolescence, so most of what we know about his early life is what he chose to tell us.2

One example of the difficulty this causes his biographers is how hard it is for us to account for his extreme distaste for direct confrontation and conflict. No doubt this was partly a matter of playing to his strengths. Much of his political success was based on his skill as a conciliator and consensus builder. His hatred of confrontation, however, sometimes led him to downplay genuine differences of opinion. He even claimed that he had no personal enemies.3 Some of this undoubtedly was for the sake of public relations, such as his writing friends in Europe that the difficulties of America in the mid-1780s were not of importance.4 His aversion

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Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter One- From Rebelliousness to Prosperity 1
  • Chapter Two- Two Missions to England 17
  • Chapter Three- Eighteen Months in Congress 41
  • Chapter Four- Franklin and the French 65
  • Chapter Five- Franklin and the British 85
  • Chapter Six- Franklin and His Fellow Americans 107
  • Epilogue Franklin Returns to Philadelphia 119
  • Notes 123
  • Recommended Reading 147
  • Index 163
  • Previous Books by Jonathan R. Dull 172
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