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

By Kenneth Lawing Penegar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11. GOING HOME, LOOKING BACK

LAST DAYS

The secret talks with the several surrogates of ministry that took place over three months—December, January, and February—of that last of Franklin’s London winters had collapsed. Both houses of Parliament had adopted a resolution to the King declaring the province of Massachusetts to be in rebellion. The port of Boston had been closed under supervision of warships of the Royal Navy. Neither of Chatham’s overtures for moderation had been seriously considered in Lords. Even so, as late in his stay as March 16, 1775, four days before he would leave London for Portsmouth and his trip home, Franklin attended a debate in the House of Lords to see once more whether the distemper gripping Westminster and Whitehall since his trial had abated. There was nothing encouraging about the experience. In fact he was so infuriated by what he heard that he drafted an angry letter to Dartmouth, a letter he never sent, thanks to the timely advice of friends, Thomas Walpole, a business partner, and Lord Camden.

There was something slightly hurried about these last days in London for Franklin. His turnover of the Massachusetts agency to Arthur Lee was by letter on March 19th, noting that documents for his successor were being left in the custody of his landlady. On the previous day he had a long talk with Edmund Burke. We do not know what they said to each other, but

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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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