Can you help me resolve a family dispute?
“Benjamin Franklin was for the majority of the Revolution, a [British] loyalist. He served in England as colonial representative from 1767 to 1775, during which time he actively strove to resolve the conflicts between Great Britain and her Colonies. It was upon his return to the Colonies after his dressing down in the Privy council by Lord Wedderburn that he became a patriot, a decision of necessity since he wished to remain in the colonies.” (answers.com)
Franklin’s son William (long his close friend, traveling companion, and partner) remained a loyalist. William even ratted his father out on an occasion when he learned the elder Franklin was traveling to Canada for a meeting of revolutionists. The rift was very painful for the old man.
“Any hope of reconciliation was shattered when William Franklin became leader of The Board of Associated Loyalists—a quasi-military organization, headquartered in British-occupied New York City, which, among other things, launched guerilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city. In the preliminary peace talks in 1782 with Britain “…Franklin insisted that loyalists who had borne arms against the United States would be excluded from this plea (that they be given a general pardon). He was undoubtedly thinking of William Franklin.” William left New York along with the British troops. He settled in England, never to return.” (Wikipedia, Ben Franklin)
My question is this: in hindsight who was the wiser of the two Franklins?
I’m certainly no Tory, but what if we had remained part of the UK? Slavery would have ended much sooner and 700,000 may not have died in the civil war. We might now have decent health care and we might have a parliament that permitted proportional representation. (The UK presently has a first-past-the-post policy like us, but there is a strong PR movement there, as opposed to here.) The economic and political influence of the colonists might have also altered some of the UK’s colonial policy for the better, having heaven only knows what benefit for India, Africa, and the Middle East.
What say ye?
“…having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.” (Benjamin Franklin, September 17, 1787 at the signing of the US Constitution– additional text here.)