Tug Of War
Neighbor was against neighbor, father against the son and the son against the father, and he that would not thrust his own blade through his brother's heart was called an infamous villain.
--Stephen Gorham, petition of July 22, 1777
"I BROUGHT OVER A GRANDSON with me, a fine Lad of about 15. . . . You will be pleas'd with him when you see him."1 Written to Jane Mecom a few weeks after his landing in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, these words from her brother were probably the first intimation she had of Temple's existence. Elizabeth Franklin, too, may have been kept in the dark many years. Once it had become poignantly clear, however, that the governor and his wife would remain childless, there was no more talk of passing Temple off as the offspring of an indigent relation: He was coming home to be acknowledged finally as William's son and the last male Franklin of the American line. It took very little time for this London adolescent to become an unquestioned, essential member of the Philadelphia family. Before long he would be the only bridge between Benjamin and William, his love and loyalty fiercely contended for by both.
The leave from England had been a hasty one. Temple had been pulled out of school so precipitously that be had bad no chance to say goodby to his comrades. But the headmaster and his wife, Mrs. Stevenson and Polly, the Strahans, and some other friends had been assured that the pair would be back by winter. Perhaps Franklin really believed that they would return as soon as his affairs were straightened out, perhaps he merely wanted to make the parting easier, perhaps it was a stratagem to elude those who planned to arrest him, using as a pretext the chancery suit brought by William Whately over the Hutchinson letters. Several years later a friend recalled that Franklin told him "a plan was laid for stopping him in England. . . . He gave out he should sail in a fortnight by the packet, but went off suddenly by another opportunity."2 (A somewhat inaccurate recollection: Franklin did sail by the packet.)