Franklin and His Fellow Americans
DURING HIS EIGHTEEN MONTHS in Congress, Franklin was one of the most radical delegates. He was among the quickest to grasp the hopelessness of petitioning the British government and hence the necessity of revolution. His opponents in Congress were the laggards and, worse still, those like his old friend Joseph Galloway who were unable to make the final break with the old order of things. By leaving Congress a few months after the Declaration of Independence, he was spared most of the subsequent factional infighting within that body. He did have to endure, however, many disputes with his fellow Americans on diplomatic missions in Europe. Not only were these disputes uncomfortable for someone like Franklin who hated contestation; they also put him in a position to which he had become unaccustomed. Now he was accused of being insufficiently zealous and even of being subservient to foreigners. The accusations against Franklin were no less painful for being false; he was, for tactical reasons, a diplomatic traditionalist, but he was no conservative, particularly in his relations with the British government, which no one hated more strongly.