Franklin the Diplomat

Portrait by Artist to Come


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American diplomats to France, 1776 - 89 * Franklin, Silas Dean, Arthur Lee (who replaced Jefferson whose wife was ill)— Envoys, 1776 - 1778 * Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams — Envoys, 1778 - 1779 * Franklin — Minister Plenipotentiary, 1779 - 85 * Franklin, Adams, John Jay — peace treaty negotiators, 1782 - 83 * Jefferson — Minister Plenipotentiary, 1785 - 89

I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. This, with its echo of the Declaration (self-evident) was Jefferson at his most terse. Except for the phrase in usufruct — a legalism meaning the right to use property for a certain time — Jefferson’s words could be chiseled in stone, or shouted on the hustings.

Richard Brookhiser
James Madison (2011)