It was all there. The Crown’s lawyer delivered his personal best demonstration of forensic fury and brilliance. In taking care of the King’s business so demonstrably and conclusively, the ambitious barrister certainly secured his own advancement through official favor. Wedderburn could, if he allowed himself, reflect, too, that he upheld the honor of the much-maligned royal governors of Massachusetts. A former governor, Francis Bernard, was in the chamber that day and would likely have appreciated the litany of challenges of the kind he too had endured while in Boston. Perhaps the trial’s featured speaker also imagined that he spoke directly to the reckless radicals of that colony and let them know that His Majesty’s government would not be intimidated nor undermined through cabals and secret maneuve rings.
Whatever else was intended or accomplished, the impact of that day’s Privy Council proceedings fell most heavily on Benjamin Franklin. The reputation of a proud and internationally famous man of science was deliberately reduced to that of a common thief. He might just as well have been in the dock of a criminal trial as standing before Council that Saturday afternoon in January. It was all too obvious to one and all the proceeding was meant to humble a royal office holder before both the peers of the realm as well in front of some of the philosopher’s own real peers, London’s men of learning.