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Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire$
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Carla J. Mulford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384198

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384198.001.0001

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(p.344) Conclusion
Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire

Carla J. Mulford

Oxford University Press

Benjamin Franklin was America’s first Atlantic world intellectual. Inquisitive, energetic, and competitive, he learned about and was proud of his British family and intellectual heritage, British political history, and British culture. From the time of his youth, Franklin embraced a set of values that he attempted, across his long life, to speak about, refine, and implement. Franklin originally conceived of himself a loyal Briton, but beginning in the 1750s, he began to see the futility of gaining a fair hearing and representation for Americans in Parliament. From the 1750s onward, Franklin began to conclude that the colonies could do without the complicated system of British politics and political intrigue, without a system of taxation depriving Americans of their rights of representation, not to mention their productivity and commerce, and without the demeaning and begrudging subjection so frequently thrust their way. If any American could have gained the colonies a fair hearing, Franklin was the man to do so. That he did not succeed in gaining the attention of Britons in England only confirmed what he had known for many years: British Americans could make it without Britain.

Keywords:   Benjamin Franklin, British Empire, Royal Society of Arts, Benedict Anderson, William Shirley, Alexander Wedderburn

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