The Making of a Patriot: Benjamin Franklin at the Cockpit

By Sheila L. Skemp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Civil War

His experience at the Cockpit put Benjamin Franklin on the trajectory toward embracing independence. But it did more than that. It signaled the beginning of the end not only of his proud connection to the Empire but also of his deep, emotional relationship to his own son. Just four days after his humiliation Benjamin wrote to William. The letter was terse and to the point. He scribbled a “Line” to report that he had just been relieved of his position at the post office. Consequently, he continued, it was obvious that William had lost any chance he may have had to improve his own prospects. Nor was his governorship of New Jersey, where his salary was a mere pittance and always had been, worth hanging on to. “I wish you were well settled in your Farm,” Franklin concluded. “Tis an honester and a more honourable because a more independent Employment.”1

While Franklin signed his note “Your affectionate Father,” his message was not particularly kind. In a few brief sentences he implied that William’s prospects were totally dependent on his connections with his father and that he could not hope for any other preferment without Benjamin’s help. He also reminded his son that despite his valiant efforts over the years to secure a raise or a more lucrative post for himself, he had always failed. And Benjamin clearly expected William to share his own resentment of his ordeal and to resign his governorship in protest. Two weeks later, Benjamin sent a second letter to New Jersey, letting William off the hook, saving him—temporarily—from having

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The Making of a Patriot: Benjamin Franklin at the Cockpit
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Editors’ Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1- The Cockpit 1
  • Chapter 2- Present at the Cockpit 29
  • Chapter 3- Errata 59
  • Chapter 4- Dueling Conspiracies 97
  • Chapter 5- Civil War 125
  • Epilogue- the Meaning of the Cockpit 151
  • Notes 157
  • For Further Reading 171
  • Index 177
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