Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
FRANKLIN, Benjamin, was born at Boston, Mass., Jan. 17, 1706, and died at Philadelphia, April 17, 1790. He learned the printer's trade, removed to Philadelphia, and gradually became prominent in the service of Pennsylvania. He then became postmaster general for the crown in North America, and afterward agent at London for Pennsylvania. In 1773-6 he was a delegate to the continental congress, and in 1778 became its most distinguished representative abroad, as minister to France. He returned in 1785, after the conclusion of the treaty of peace, mainly due to his own diplomatic skill, became president (governor) of Pennsylvania, and took part in the convention of 1787. In his later years he took an active part in the anti-slavery society of Pennsylvania. (See
—Apart from Franklin's skill as a scientific investigator and as a practical diplomatist, his work is interesting for the clear perception which it showed of the questions at issue between the mother country and her North American colonies. While he maintained, as fully as any other public man, the theoretical rights of the colonists, he recognized, to the exact moment of its disappearance, every restriction upon theory arising from the aversion of the colonists to independence, and never endeavored to hurry the revolution unhealthily. The fourth volume of his collected works contains, scattered through its pages, a wonderfully clear and simple outline of the rights of the colonists, as they understood them.
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