Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) was the most widely recognized American of his day.
He was well-known as the publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette and
Poor Richard's Almanack and gained further fame in his middle years with
a series of scientific experiments that culminated in the publication of
Experiments and Observations on Electricity in 1751.
In 1753, he was appointed postmaster general of the colonies by the British
Government. 4 years later, he was sent by the Pennsylvania assembly to London
to act as its agent. It was his second term in that office that ended soon
after Franklin's humiliation in the Privy Council. He returned to America in
1775 and joined the Second Continental Congress.
Congress sent Franklin to France in December, 1776 to secure French aid for the
Revolution. He immediately became the toast of Paris society. Franklin
appealed to what one scholar has called a "radical chic" which ran through the
French aristocracy at the time. He represented not only a new republic, but a
new kind of man—self-made, a man of science and philosophy, the embodiment of
Still the French were not inclined to offer their full support of the American
rebellion until the British were defeated at the battle of Saratoga, in the
fall of 1777.
In February of 1778, a treaty of alliance was finally signed between France and
the Americans. At the ceremony which accompanied the signing, Franklin wore
the same suit that he'd worn four years before, when he was savaged by
Wedderburn in the Privy Council. When one of his fellow envoys commented on
the fact, Franklin said that he'd worn the suit "to give it a little