On this historic day, November 14, 1776, the British press names the famous Londoner Ben Franklin leader of the rebellion

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On this historic day, November 14, 1776, the British press names the famous Londoner Ben Franklin leader of the rebellion
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American patriot and lifelong City of London man Ben Franklin was named leader of the colonial rebellion by the British press on that historic day, November 14, 1776.

“The very identical Dr Franklyn, whom Lord Chatham so cherished, and said he was proud to call his friend, is now at the head of the rebellion in North America,” reported the St. James Chronicle of London .

“Lord Chatham” was a reference to William Pitt, who served as Prime Minister of Britain from 1766 to 1768 and was known for his sympathetic view of the American cause.

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International news highlighted Franklin’s particularly complex role among the Founding Fathers.

First, and obviously, Franklin was old enough to be the father, and even the grandfather, of many incredibly young Founding Fathers.

Ben Franklin in Whitehall Chapel, London, 1774, painted by C. Schuessele; engraved by Whitechurch. Dated 1859. Benjamin Franklin standing before the Lords in Council at Whitehall Chapel, London in 1774, presenting the concerns of American settlers.
(Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Franklin was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson were 40, 39 and 33 respectively on July 4, 1776.

Thomas Lynch Jr. and Edward Rutledge, both of South Carolina, were each only 26 years old and were the youngest signatories.

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The future father of his country, General George Washington, was only 44 years old.

Second, the other Founding Fathers gained their fame in the struggle for American independence. Franklin already enjoyed fame as an author, statesman, and scientist on both sides of the Atlantic.

A Currier And Ives Lithograph Of Benjamin Franklin And His Son William Using A Kite And Wrench During A Storm To Prove Lightning Was Electricity, June 1752. Franklin Became Famous In The London Scientific Community For His Electrical Research.

A Currier and Ives lithograph of Benjamin Franklin and his son William using a kite and wrench during a storm to prove lightning was electricity, June 1752. Franklin became famous in the London scientific community for his electrical research.
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

His research into electricity “earned him the 1753 Copley Medal (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the 18th century) and a fellowship from the Royal Society,” Smithsonian Magazine wrote in 2016 of Franklin’s life in London.

“Ben Franklin was adopted by a British aristocracy fascinated by science.”

“It also transformed his social status. He was famous. This son of a poor tallow salesman was embraced by a British aristocracy passionate about science and particularly fond of the crackle of electricity.”

Third, Franklin had spent much of his life in London, first settling there as a teenager in 1724 before returning to Philadelphia in 1726.

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He lived in London from 1757 to 1775, returning briefly to America in the 1760s.

He was known to enjoy the pleasures of English high society and relationships with leading British citizens.

The Smithsonian Magazine, in the same report, called the man considered a leading American patriot a “loyal British royalist” and “one-fifth a revolutionary, four-fifths a London intellectual”.

Illustration Of American Statesman And Scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) As He Reads At A Table, Late 18Th Century.

Illustration of American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) as he reads at a table, late 18th century.
(Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Franklin seemed to draw closer to his native soil as Parliament enacted increasingly punitive laws against the colonies.

London society, for its part, multiplies the verbal attacks against him and his compatriots.

He ran to the defense of the colonies nearly two decades before the revolution in a letter to the same St. James Chronicle following a scathing anti-American screed penned by a British officer.

“Dirt stains thrown at my character,” Ben Franklin said, responding to attacks in Parliament.

“There are several traits in (the officer’s article) which render the colonies contemptible, and even odious to the mother country, which may have bad consequences,” Franklin wrote on May 9, 1759.

He took American grievances before Parliament in 1774, for which he was personally scourged by British Solicitor General Alexander Wedderburn.

“Dirt stains thrown all over my character,” a furious Franklin wrote of the verbal abuse.

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Increasingly an outcast, he left Britain for Philadelphia for the last time on March 20, 1775, just four weeks before the transatlantic rift erupted into war at the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Franklin’s break with his beloved London was complete when he pledged his life, fortune, and honor to the cause of American independence on July 4, 1776.

1668405836 514 On This Historic Day November 14 1776 The British Press

This Georgian terraced house at 36 Craven Street near Trafalgar Square was the “distinguished dwelling” of American statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) from 1757 to 1775. It is the only one of Franklin’s houses in the world still standing.
(Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Said Franklin to his fellow American Revolutionaries at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “Gentlemen, we must now all hang together, or we will most certainly all hang separately.”

Since then, London has taken over the legacy of the scientist who became a rebel.

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The Benjamin Franklin House at 36 Craven St. in London, where he lived for nearly 20 years before the American Revolution, opened as a museum in the heart of the city in 2006. It is the “sole home of Benjamin Franklin to the world”. says the museum’s website.

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