The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 20 - Willcox, William B.; Franklin, Benjamin - Yale University Press
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The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 20
Volume 20: January 1 through December 31, 1773
Benjamin Franklin; Edited by William B. Willcox
Franklin’s activities in 1773 were as multifarious as ever, but behind them were two developments that closely affected his future. One was the growing impact on him and his London world of the shock waves emanating from Boston—the constitutional debate between Governor Hutchinson and his opponents in the General Court, the petition from the House of Representatives for the removal of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and in December the Tea Party. The Bostonians were more and more openly defiant, and their agent was almost as busy in antagonizing Whitehall. His revelation on Christmas Day that he had obtained and send the Hutchison letters were only the latest in a series of provocations during the year. In June he published, with a preface of his own, a set of radical resolutions passed by the Boston town meeting November, 1772; and in September he attacked British policy in his two famous satires, “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One” and the “Edict by the King of Prussia.”
The other development that affected his future was the appearance of the first comprehensive French translation of his works. Hitherto only small snippets of what he had written in the past two decades had been available to the French-speaking intelligentsia of Europe. Now the whole man, shrewd, wide-ranging, and voracious in his curiosity, was there to be seen; and his stature commanded recognition. At the moment when his political position in England was being eroded, his place in the Enlightenment was becoming more secure.
William B. Willcox is professor of history at Yale University.
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