Lone Traveler: The Singular Life of Benjamin Franklinby Rob Crimmins
In the eighteenth century, The Age of Reason, he was one of the best known men in the world. In France his face was found on medallions, plates, snuffboxes, cards, and prints everywhere. It was so common he told his daughter it was “as well known as that of the moon.” Today Benjamin Franklin is still instantly recognized by billions. As the years pass his prominence slowly fades but his legend will remain a part of the American character. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson are the only other Americans to share an equal status, which places him in the company of giants. Each of those great men has some personal meaning to nearly every American, but who was Franklin the man, whose legend is symbolic of wisdom, industry and genius? How did he become the most famous man of his age? What did he do to achieve such supreme and lasting status? His accomplishments were astonishing but perhaps to an even greater degree than those other remarkable Americans, Franklin achieved greatness as much for who he was as what he did.
He was a man of letters and science and at the same time a tradesman and mechanic. He was a philosopher as well as a man of action. His innate ability to comprehend the physical world was as astounding as his understanding of human nature. The first established him as one of the greatest scientists of his age and the second brought him business success. He was America’s first and best diplomat and anyone who challenged him, from business competitors to kings, learned that he was a most formidable enemy.
Lone Traveler: The Singular Life of Benjamin Franklin is a concise yet thorough account of the life of Benjamin Franklin including all the events that he would consider most important and some that he might have overlooked or omitted but are necessary for the modern reader who seeks to understand one of the most important characters in history.
Parts One, Two and Three, the period from Franklin’s birth in 1706 until 1725, describe Franklin’s childhood home and environment, his family, Boston, serving in his Brother’s print shop, running away to Philadelphia and a “Governor’s Pitiful Trick” that left the 18 year old Franklin stranded in London.
Parts Four, Five and Six (1725 to 1748) are about Franklin’s first stay in London, the “cultural and largely immoral center of Europe”, re-establishing himself in Philadelphia, starting a family and thriving in business.
Parts Seven, Eight and Nine (1748 to 1762) include the Kite Experiment in 1752 and Franklin’s subsequent, world-wide fame, then detail Franklin’s political battles in Pennsylvania, his part in General Braddock’s campaign, his own, little known military career, the first battle with Pennsylvania’s proprietors, which resulted in his second trip to England, with his grown son William, where he would establish alliances, seek out his family roots and succeed in his mission against the Penns.
Parts Ten, Eleven and Twelve (1762 to 1776) see Franklin back in Philadelphia and then return to England, to once more represent Pennsylvania in its struggle with its founding family but then to become America’s foremost advocate in the cause for freedom. While returning to Philadelphia, just before nearly losing his own freedom, the “Shot Heard ’round The World” is fired.
Parts Thirteen and Fourteen (1776 to Franklin’s death in 1790) begin at the end of 1776, after he helps write and then signs the Declaration of Independence. The book then details Franklin’s voyage to France with his two grandsons where he becomes America’s second most important revolutionary, behind Washington, negotiates the Treaty of Paris and falls in love. Franklin’s relationship with his son William Franklin, one of the most poignant stories of family loss in history is detailed in this portion of the book as is Franklin’s relationships with John Paul Jones and John Adams, his role in the peace treaty with Great Britain and the writing of the United States Constitution.
© Robert A. Crimmins, Felton, Delaware, USA
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