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

Eighteenth-century writers seemed uncertain how best to describe Britain’s relation to its many overseas possessions. Only tepidly did they employ the concept of empire since for them it carried uncomfortable baggage from ancient history. The traditional usage suggested that control over distant colonies and expansion into new regions depended on military might. But the notion that Great Britain was a modern-day Rome, dispatching powerful legions to conquer the world, did not sit well with a people who celebrated liberty and rights, the blessings of living under a balanced constitution.

T. H. Breen
The Marketplace of the Revolution (2004)