The Political Trial of Benjamin Franklin: A Prelude to the American Revolution

By Kenneth Lawing Penegar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5. PRELIMINARY HEARING

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

The blustery December storms of outrage cleared dramatically in January. It soon became apparent that more was taking place off-stage, so to speak, than the sentiments expressed in the newspapers would suggest by themselves. Along with the clearing, Franklin would soon face the much colder effects of official action and plans.

John Dunning by Joshua Reynolds. Courtesy of National Portrait
Gallery, London. ©National Portrait Gallery, London

Scarcely three days after he had written to his son William in New Jersey and to Speaker Cushing in Boston, disclosing what he had done, the Lords’ Committee on Plantations of the Privy Council issued a summons informing Franklin that the petition from the Massachusetts House would be heard forthwith. The notice was dated January 8. The hearing was to be held on the eleventh. It directed Franklin to attend.

From its presentation to Dartmouth in August until now, Franklin had been in the dark about the course the petition for the governor’s removal had taken. It had lain for some months with one of the King’s secretaries be-

-63-

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The Political Trial of Benjamin Franklin: A Prelude to the American Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents xi
  • Author’s Preface 1
  • Introduction and Overview 5
  • Chapter 1- A Duel in Hyde Park 21
  • Chapter 2- Private Letters, Public Causes 26
  • Chapter 3- Imperial over-Reach- The Polhical Context of the Letters 42
  • Chapter 4- Harvest of Sphe- Reaction in the London Press 50
  • Chapter 5- Preliminary Hearing 63
  • Chapter 6- Showdown in the Cockpit 75
  • Chapter 7- The Verdict 93
  • Chapter 8- Circles of Support 101
  • Chapter 9- Other Perils and Aftershocks 120
  • Chapter 10- Second Thoughts 135
  • Chapter 11- Going Home, Looking Back 147
  • Post Script 169
  • Afterword 171
  • Appendix- Essay and Verbatim Records 187
  • Acknowledgments 255
  • Selected Bibliography 257
  • Index 261
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