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Franklin in London: 18 yrs:1758-1775

Franklin lived 18 years in London as the famous scientist and high-living emissary of the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts colonies. But it all ended bitterly.(Topic 661)

Franklin ran around with the highest high society, living for eighteen years on Craven St, about 100 feet from Picadilly.

Topic 661:

Ben Franklin: Author (4280): Stages () : Chapters () :

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Benjamin Franklin: Chronology

{Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine}
Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine

January 17, 1706 Born in Boston, the thirteenth child of a candle maker; only went through 2nd Grade, Apprenticed to his brother as a printer, ran away to Philadelphia age 17.
1723 Arrived in Philadelphia penniless, readily found work as a printer.

1725-26 First trip to England. Researched printing equipment, but probably lived a riotous life.

1726-1748 Returned to Philadelphia to found his own print shop and bookstore. Wrote and printed Poor Richard's Almanack organized local tradesmen into the Junto, formed partnerships with sixty printers throughout the colonies, obtained the print business of local governments, became postmaster. Able to retire at the age of 42 by selling his business for 18 annual payments, which offered him comfort and ease for considerably longer than his life expectancy.

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1751 Helped found Pennsylvania Hospital. Entered the legislature.

1751-1757 Active in legislature, rising to leadership during the French and Indian War, Pontiac's Rebellion and the uprising of the Paxtang Boys.

1754Took a noteworthy carriage trip to the Albany Conference, accompanied by fellow delegates Proprietor Penn and Isaac Norris at which he proposed unification of the thirteen colonies to fight against the French. Composed the first political cartoon "Join or Die" for that purpose. Notes for the trip on the blank pages of "Poor Richard's Almanac", now at Rosenbach Museum. The other delegates rejected the plan.

1757-1762 Second time in England. Acted as representative of both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. After his electoral defeat, he returned to England for a total of eighteen years, suggesting hidden British sympathies may have been present.

1764-1775 Third British visit. Although unsuccessful in his lobbying, his fame as a scientist made him welcome among the famous members of the Enlightenment, like Hume, Adam Smith, Mozart. Meanwhile, the colonies became considerably more rebellious than he was. His blunder with the publication of some letters gave the British Ministry an opportunity to humiliate and disgrace him in public, probably as a warning to the mutinous New England leaders. It irreconcilably alienated Franklin, who sulked, the en packed up and joined the Continental Congress the day he arrived back home. The Masonic connection (Franklin was the Philadelphia Grand Master) is just now coming to light.

1775

Brief but fateful return to America. Battle of Lexington and Concord Aril 19, 1775. Franklin returned to Pennsylvania Assembly on May 6,1775 after a 6-week voyage from England. His unpopular agitation for replacing the Penn Proprietors with direct Royal government had once led to his electoral defeat and the seeming end of his elective career. The defeated but determined Quaker party sent him to England to lobby against the Penn family and for the rule of Pennsylvania by the King. The Masonic connection under all this is their secret.

March, 1775-October, 1776 Decisions were made in London to put down the colonists by as much force as necessary. Meanwhile, Franklin persuaded the Continental Congress they must declare independence from England if they expected help from the French.

July 4, 1776, Independence is declared within days after the arrival of a massive British fleet in New York harbor. Franklin dispatched to France to secure the assistance he was confident he could get.

1777-1785 France. Franklin served admirably as American ambassador, his wit and charm persuading the French to overextend themselves with ships, supplies, and money, and very likely contributing to the French Revolution by popularizing the American one.

1785-1790 Returning as a national hero for his final five years of life, Franklin loaned his personal influence to the constitutional convention, became President of Pennsylvania, worked for the abolition of slavery.

April 17, 1790 Died, probably of complications associated with kidney stones.

General References: Muti-Topic Footnotes: Lifetime Biographies: Notes:

General Biographies.


REFERENCES


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Walter Isaacson ISBN-10: 0684807610Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital 1754 Professor I. Bernard Cohen Library Number:54-11251Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Carl Van Doren ISBN-13: 978-0140152609Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Edmund S. Morgan ISBN-13: 978-0300095326Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey Paul C. Pasles ISBN-13: 978-0691129563Amazon

Benjamin Franklin: Reference Page


REFERENCES


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life: By Walter Isaacson (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital: By Benjamin Franklin (Author), I. Bernard Cohen (Introduction)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Carl Van Doren (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Edmund S. Morgan (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin's Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey First Edition: By Paul C. Pasles (Author)Amazon
The Invention of Air: By Steven Johnson (Author)Amazon
A Medical History of Benjamin Franklin: By by Benjamin S. Abeshouse (Author)Amazon
A Study of History, Vol. 1: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI: By Arnold J. Toynbee (Author)Amazon
Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity: By Nick Bunker (Author)Amazon

Benjamin Franklin and The Facts of His Early Formative Years:

Ben Franklin's early life is full of gaps. Consequently, the man whose writings later filled eighty (80) volumes doesn't explain why he made some important decisions. As one of his other biographers once said, "Franklin doesn't tell us everything, but what he does tell us, is straight".

The implication was that he was devious, but I am more Freudian. The implication was that he was following the example of his brother James, instead of becoming a farmer, like most other men his age. And he hated James, so the question moves to -- Why did he hate James? The ultimate answer is lost but is probably childish, as I am ashamed to admit I went to Yale because that was the advice of a taxi-dancer; I went to Lawrenceville because the Mercersburg representative who was interviewing me said it was better than Mercersburg. I later protected the Mercersburg man by denying he said it, for childish reasons I don't even understand myself.

The point I am making, in case you missed it, was even a rich and famous old man sometimes prefers to be called devious, to being charged with the shameful fact of being childish. And even he has maybe forgotten which it really was.

And another comment, he had a funny relationship with women. Even for the time of the Enlightenment, he had a more peculiar conflict with the need to wear fur hats and called "Poor Richard", when he had worked very hard to be the richest man around. He retired at the age of 42 and was later given a portrait with 250 diamonds in its frame, by the King of France, no less.

We may never know the answer to questions like these, which may trace back to a childhood teaching or experience, or else have a more complicated explanation hidden in someone's closet as a letter. One may turn up, the other will not.

Madeira Party 2009: Franklin Mistakes Lead Poisoning For Gout.

{Madeira Wine class=}
Madeira Wine class=

The hundred years war, the thirty years war, the seven years war, and other European disagreements made it difficult to import wine to England, turning the wine import trade to Portugal. Port wine was, of course, prominent, but the best wine of all came from the Portuguese colony of Madeira. The island of Madeira is closer to Africa than to Portugal, so the triangular slave trade made it easy to import Madeira wine to the British colonies in America. The eastern seaboard of America had no grape culture of any note, so the beverage trade centered on rum, whiskey, beer, and Madeira. George Washington is widely reported to have had half a bottle of Madeira every day for lunch, for example.

{S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell}
S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell

The other evening at the Franklin Inn Club, a traditional Philadelphia Madeira party filled the hall, and the membership was brought up to date on some of the traditions and finer points of the occasion. In the first place, the Franklin Inn was founded by S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell, in his spare time as Father of Neurology, had written a short story called The Madeira Party which worked in a large number of details about what was what about Madeira, ending with ribald tipsiness. Nathan Steven, a well-known wine authority, instructed the group in the various types of grape and vintage, and other members who have summered in Madeira related current conditions. Because the volcanic island is a favorite place for visitors, particularly Englishmen, real estate is at such a premium that most vineyards have only one or two acres of grapes. The wineries whose names are on the bottles pick up the crop from these local growers and take it on from there. This seems as good as any other explanation for the current high prices of the wine. However, a century ago a disease wiped out the French and Portuguese vineyards, who were forced to beg back some exported grapevines from California to get back in business. So, one wonders about the scarcity claim.

{Madeira in a barrels}
Madeira in a barrels

It is related that a number of cargoes of Madeira, particularly those of John Hancock of Boston were caught being smuggled to the colonies, and got returned. It was discovered that the taste of the wine was greatly improved by the tumult so that each vintner experimented with various methods of agitating and heating the wine to produce a particular brand. Madeira, like sherry, is a fortified wine, with various proportions of grain alcohol and brandy added in secret formulas. On one point there is general agreement, that if fortified wines are aged for long enough periods, eventually they all taste alike. There thus has emerged a tricky business of aging the wine long enough for the vintage of the wine to match the age or anniversary of the person being honored by the gift. Fifty years is the tricky goal; it's the most popular gift, but perilously close to the point where you can't tell if it is sherry or Madeira. There are four main varieties of Madeira (brand names are something else), getting progressively sweeter, darker colored and more expensive as they age. Malmsey, in a barrel of which Shakspere portrayed the royal princes being drowned, is claimed to be the very best. Some people regard it as too sweet, however. At proper Madeira party, each variety is served with a different course of terrapin or whatever. The President of the Franklin Inn read off the instructions for cooking the traditional first course of jellied boiled boar's head, and the guests agreed that modern tastes called for a substitute. After the reading of Mitchell's short story, the group added a new tradition of singing Flanders and Swann's ribald song, "Have Some Madeira, m'dear".

Chuck Barber, the current President of the Green Tree Insurance Company, added an entirely new historical slant. The Insurance Company is well known for having the best dinner in town at its meetings since directors of insurance companies don't do much. At the dinner in 1799, the news was brought in that George Washington had just died. A member rose to propose what has become an annual toast in Madeira, "To President Washington!" In time, S. Weir Mitchell became a member of the board, and the famous short story was the outcome which firmly fixed the rules of the Philadelphia Madeira Party. Bill Madeira was called on to verify this history, but he protested that his family name was derived from the wine, not the other way around.

It seems appropriate to add another historical note. Benjamin Franklin, after whom the club is named, suffered severely from gout. Although some sort of association with liquor had been mentioned as far back as Hippocrates, Franklin's powers of observation and his fame as a scientist placed him in a position to make it an irrefutable doctrine that gout was a medical penalty for drinking liquor. It was, of course, Madeira that old Ben was drinking, and it was the rule that Madeira was transported in lead-lined kegs. The Green Tree has some of the old kegs if you doubt it. Franklin's observation was acute, but what he was reporting was the effect of the lead poisoning, not of the wine.

B. Franklin, a Chronology

Chronology

Born 1706 --the fifteenth child of a Boston candle-maker, Josiah Franklin, the seventh child of his second wife.

Died, April 17, 1790--Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, in Philadelphia, after a celebrated funeral parade. The President of Pennsylvania.

Riverline: Camden and Amboy Revival

{Riverline}
Riverline

The RiverLine, a sort of diesel-powered overgrown trolley car line, has just re-opened on the Conrail tracks from Camden to Trenton. It runs every 30 minutes in both directions but unfortunately stops at 10 PM to let Conrail run freight trains at night. That's almost a perfect fit for the two operations, although it could leave baseball fans stranded at a night game at Campbell Park (now closed), or concertgoers at the Tweeter Center. The trains are running fairly full, partly because of their novelty, and partly because of the initial decision not to collect the $1.10 fare on Sunday, but mostly because the Riverline proved to be a better idea than anyone realized it would be. It's considerably cheaper for Philadelphia commuters to Wall Street to take the Riverline and transfer to New Jersey Transit at Trenton, for one thing. Even Amtrak encourages that, because high gasoline prices have filled up the Amtrak trains.

It's well worth a historical excursion on the RiverLine, which runs on the former right of way of the first railroad in New Jersey, chartered in 1830 by Robert L. Stevens. A genius of many talents, Stevens invented the iron rail which looks like an inverted "T," held in place by a system of plates and broad-headed spikes. The system is still in use today. Stevens also devised the use of wooden cross ties rather than granite ones, finding they resulted in a smoother ride. In 1834, he joined forces with another many-talented genius, Robert F. Stockton, who had earlier constructed a canal from New Brunswick to Trenton. Stevens then built a railroad beside the canal, subsequently extending it from Trenton to Camden. Stockton ran ferry boats from Perth Amboy to New York, and from Camden to Philadelphia. The full trip from New York to Philadelphia took nine hours, a remarkable improvement over the horse-drawn competition.

The partnership also got the Legislature to confer monopoly rights, so the arrangement was highly profitable as well as an engineering marvel. Sixty years later, the Sherman Act would declare such monopolies to be crimes, but in 1830 they were considered a clever way for Legislatures to stimulate risky investment. The Pennsylvania Railroad bought the partnership and its monopoly in 1871, but preferred to bridge the Delaware River at Trenton, so the towns and track along the Jersey side of the river soon dwindled away. The RiverLine now provides a pleasant one-hour excursion along the riverbank, down the main streets of some cute little towns, past some remarkable woods and wilderness up near Trenton, and past Camden's urban revival at the southern end.

After London, Ben Franklin Revisited

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George Goodwin

George Goodwin appears to have written the best book I ever read, in Benjamin Franklin in London, which that writer in residence of the Craven Street Franklin Museum. has just produced. At least I have never read a book which proceeded to explain so much I knew puzzled me. There have been hundreds of books about Benjamin Franklin, but all of them fall back on Franklin's Autobiography which while surely authoritative, often omits significant details. Goodwin, concentrating on the eighteen years Franklin spent abroad, had access to many unnoticed personal papers. It was also written while Franklin was in England, where many things did not appear to need an explanation to 18th Century Englishmen. And the autobiography was written for his son, who needed even less explanation. So it's a mistake to ascribe the autobiography's vagueness to deliberate deviousness, to say nothing of basing a whole theory of his personality on deviousness. Its hazy points now seem more attributable to his assuming his intended audience needed little explanation for what to us was seemingly left vague. And so as a first impression, Franklin himself emerges less deserving of his reputation for deceptiveness.

{Privateers}
Ben Franklin In London

It occurred to me as I read it, that national opinions will change so quickly, that the transitional opinions of people like me will soon be swept aside. I am no scholar, but have read twenty or so excellent books about Benjamin Franklin, and adopted a number of fixed ideas which I will have to change. Therefore, Goodwin's achievement is in danger of becoming lost in a stampede of permanently revised views. Goodwin himself may be oblivious to his own achievement, which was probably gathered slowly after poring over heaps of primary documents and living in a London world which needed less explaining to a Londoner. Heaven knows I am no Keats, but my place in all this can possibly aspire to his goals in the poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.

{Privateers}
Join or Die

In the first place, Franklin appears to have been a staunch British subject, at least from the Albany Conference of 1754 to as late as 1774. His dream, formulated at Albany and expressed in many forms later, was that of a combined British-American empire, with its headquarters eventually to be located in America. For the largest part of his life, his attitude was not that America should be independent of Britain. It was the two nations should unite even more closely, America would inevitably grow larger, and the British Empire would become a British World. After King George III unleashed Wedderburn to excoriate Franklin before the crowned heads of Whitehall, it all changed, of course, but it did so after a personal dispute with the King about lightning rods, where Franklin never doubted he was the world-acknowledged authority. In essence, Franklin was the inventor of electricity, but King George in effect responded, "Who do you think you are, a King?" Those weren't the words they used, but that was the sense of it. Or, considering what was at stake, the nonsense of it. Franklin had been challenged to destroy the British empire if he was so smart, and that is exactly what he set about to do.

{Privateers}
King George III

Without editorializing a word, Goodwin allows us to read a line Franklin wrote in 1773, that King George was "perhaps the only Chance America has for obtaining soon the Address she aims at."

Franklin was not without British allies. Lord Chatham, later Prime Minister, and Edmund Burke, author of "On Reconciliation With the Colonies" came very close to toppling the government over this issue. Even Lord Howe, Franklin's chess partner and brother of even-more-avid chess partner Lady Carolyn Howe, who was later designated to lead the British repression of the rebellion, is quoted as saying in 17XX, XXXXXXXX. Lord Howe's words are going to require some re-examination of his motives in the abandonment of Burgoyne against direct orders, and redirection of the fleet toward Philadelphia. Frankin's response, of course, was to use the victory to sign a treaty of alliance with France.

{Privateers}
William Pitt 1st Earl of Chatham

In victorious America, of course, Franklin was celebrated for flying a kite in a rainstorm, something every schoolboy knows is too dangerous to try. It was during his time in England that Franklin performed a series of experiments which invented electricity which every physicist would agree would today win him a Nobel Prize. It made him a friend of Mozart and Beethoven, Joseph Priestley and five kings. Goodwin even restores the tarnished reputation of Peggy Stevenson.

But it isn't all for the better. Goodwin tells us Franklin didn't invent bifocals, some British optometrist did. So he raises a question, for those who are looking for it, about how many of the other American "firsts" for which he is famous, were ideas he picked up in his first trip to London in 17XX, and transported to an America eager to have what was the latest and trendiest. There are probably other innuendoes in this eminently readable but essentially scholarly work. But I missed them, and a hundred graduate students will have to put the record straight.

 

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Ben Franklin: Author (4280): Stages () : Chapters () :
DESCRIPTION: a summary in the black box. Run-1: Backrun=1 (4280): Bacrun=1: BaRun=1: BRun=2: Brun=1: Volume 234: Run=4088 DESCRIPTION: a summary blurb in the black box.Run-1: Backrun=1: Bacrun=1: BaRun=1: BRun=2: Brun=1: Volume 234: Run=4088

Benjamin Franklin: Chronology
Franklin retired at age 42, and spent the other half of his life in public service. Only 33 scattered years of that 82-year life were spent in Philadelphia, but he was here for the French and Indian War, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutional Convention. He was a scalawag kid in Boston, a wealthy scientist in London, and a diplomat in Paris.

General References: Muti-Topic Footnotes: Lifetime Biographies: Notes:

Benjamin Franklin: Reference Page
Reference Books that inspired Benjamin Franklin Blogs.

Benjamin Franklin and The Facts of His Early Formative Years:
Children often conceal the origins of their most important life decisions, because they are ashamed of the reasons.

Madeira Party 2009: Franklin Mistakes Lead Poisoning For Gout.
In Colonial America, Madeira was what the upper crust drank.

B. Franklin, a Chronology
Eighty four years, from candle-stick maker's son to Philadelphia's elderly hero, the seventh child of his second wife,.

Riverline: Camden and Amboy Revival
One of the oldest rail lines in America is coming back to life, and maybe bringing the towns along with it back to life, too.

After London, Ben Franklin Revisited