Benjamin Franklin: from British patriot to American hero

Today he is celebrated as one of the architects of the colonies' victory in the American War of Independence. Yet, for most of his life, Benjamin Franklin was a dyed-in-the-wool British patriot, as George Goodwin explains...

A cartoon published by Benjamin Franklin c1770 urging the colonies to unite and resist British rule. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

When the 84-year-old Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia in 1790, he was revered as an American founding father and patriot. He had been the man responsible 
for bringing France into the War of Independence and for keeping it there. Franklin was, as the later US president John Adams reluctantly admitted, second only to George Washington in his importance in securing the victory of the United States. 
Yet for more than four-fifths of his long life, Benjamin Franklin had considered himself to be a British royalist. For the best part of two decades he had enjoyed the life of an English gentleman in London – right up to 1775, when he was forced to flee.

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