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The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 30 - Oberg, Barbara B.; Franklin, Benjamin - Yale University Press
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The Papers of Benjamin Franklin

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 30

Volume 30: July 1 through October 31, 1779

  • Benjamin Franklin; Edited by Barbara B. Oberg
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This volume begins with a detailed account of Franklin's lavish celebration of the fourth anniversary of American independence. The dinner and ball, attended by forty French and American guests, were both an announcement of his "coming-of-age" as a diplomat and a signal of the continuing value placed on the alliance with France. Franklin's renewed activity as a printer is central to this volume. The press and foundry he had recently installed in his Passy residence were put to use for a variety of official documents. With Simon-Pierre Fournier le jeune he designed a script typeface for passports; he ordered high quality paper from London for loan installment certificates; and, when he learned that as American minister he had authority to rule on the validity of prize ships, he lost no time in printing certificates of condemnation. Franklin was involved in outfitting John Paul Jones's squadron, which in the celebrated Battle off Flamborough Head captured the warships Serapis and Countess of Scarborough. Jones accused a fellow captain, Pierre Landais, of firing on Jones's own Bonhomme Richard, instead of on the Serapis, thus opening an acrimonious debate, both sides of which are recounted in this volume. Franklin kept up his participation in French society: he visited prisons, contributed to charities, attended scientific meetings; and enjoyed his friends, one of whom, the abbé Morellet, composed a drinking song in his honor and another of whom, Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, composed a spirited rejoinder to his "Morals of Chess."

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