Brother Benjamin Franklin
Of all the representatives sent abroad by the Congress of the thirteen states in the early part of the Revolutionary war to secure aid of various kinds from certain friendly nations, no one has equaled Benjamin Franklin in ability, tact, common sense, diplomacy, and reputation that was national as well as world wide. Any government to which he was assigned received an unusual personality.
In government, he made contributions in developing unity and democracy in our colonies, and he also served for many years as official colonial agent in London for Pennsylvania. He pointed out for a long time to the British Government that taxation without representation was a principle upon which America stood firmly.
When Franklin went to France in the early part of the Revolution as the official diplomat and ambassador of the thirteen colonies, he came as a man of maturity, brilliance, ability, and as a world statesman. Upon his arrival in Paris, there was no other statesman or philosopher who could equal him in his ability and accomplishments. His presence in Paris annoyed the British minister and staff. Franklin enjoyed the situation. The years he remained in Paris were unusually fruitful ones for America in helping to work out the future destiny of the United States of America. In the early 1950′s the United States published ten volumes of the United States Foreign Affairs during the Revolution, and the major part of the ten volumes covers the work of Franklin.
We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately – Benjamin Franklin, 1776The colonies indeed needed help of every description–men, money, equipment, ships, and all things to fight a successful war. The long years of enmity between France and Britain opened the way for the leadership of Franklin. And he was not only the man to exploit it, but also the reason for the acceptance of thirteen states as a recognized nation in the world of nations.
During his long career of service, we shall never know how many men sought commissions in the Revolution. But this much we do know–that Franklin was never deceived, as he never held out any hope for a commission unless the applicant had the ability in his chosen field. One of the men aided very early was John Paul Jones; and as an Admiral in the little American Navy composed of two ships under his command, he took those two ships and sailed into English waters for a fight. In a terrific battle, two proud English ships surrendered; and they were brought into French waters as American prizes.
When the United States flag, the red, white, and blue, became the official flag of the country in June, 1777, the French Navy saluted it as the first of all nations.
Another important selection was Baron Von Steuben who came to be an important leader at Valley Forge during the tragic winter of 1777-1778 in the reorganization of the Continental Army. Franklin wrote Washington a long personal letter about Steuben. When his services were accepted by Congress, he showed that he was thoroughly dependable; and his military ability and leadership were likewise shown in the reorganization of the Army in the days ahead. His devotion to Washington and earnestness to his new country constitute fine commendation of Franklin’s aid.
In the final stages of the war, after long weeks of hard campaigning, Cornwallis was bottled up in Yorktown, Virginia. Lafayette, who had done so much for the American cause out of his own private fortune and by his persistence to his own government for men, equipment, and ships, always backed up the entire procedure of Franklin.
As the conditions became ripe and favorable, then Washington and his Continentals came down from the North and by rapid marches joined the French soldiers under Rochembeau; and the last great battle of the war entered its final phase. DeGrasse, Commander of the French fleet, kept reinforcements away; and the armies, under the supreme command of Washington, in a series of successful attacks upon the British forces led to the final conclusion and surrender of Cornwallis in October, 1782.