Becoming Ben Franklin
written by Russell Freedman
2013 (Holiday House)
Source: Mebane Public Library
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He snatched lightning from the sky and the scepter from tyrants.
- French statesman Jacques Turgot
If you are looking for a thorough and entertaining biography of Ben Franklin, then you should read Russell Freedman's Becoming Ben Franklin. For readers of previous Franklin biographies, Freedman covers familiar and not so familiar territory. For example, I was not aware that Franklin's oldest son was born not to his wife Deborah but to a woman that he never identified or that one of his beloved nicknames was "Dr. Fatsides." After reading this book, you come away with a greater appreciation of Benjamin Franklin's combination of intellect and common sense. In late 1764, Franklin returned to England to represent Pennsylvania's interests. Parliament sought out his opinion on the enacting of the Stamp Act. He told them this act "would create a deep-seated aversion between the two countries, laying the foundations of a future total separation." That's an insight of the kind that Nostradamus wished he could have had. Franklin and others helped to persuade Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. The king and his ministers (could you insert minions here?) managed to convince the assembly to later pass the Townshend Acts which imposed taxes on several items. Once again, Ben Franklin's crystal ball was on target. He warned that these acts would serve "to convert millions of ...loyal subjects into rebels for the sake of establishing a newly claimed power in Parliament to tax a distant people."
Reading Becoming Ben Franklin will leave readers even more impressed with this historical figure. Make sure you read the end of the book to learn about Franklin's efforts to end slavery. You should also take note of Russell Freedman's source notes and bibliography. As Dire Straits once said in the song Money for Nothing, "That's the way you do it."