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

Jefferson biographers express astonishment that the apprenticeship with Wythe lasted five full years, 1762 - 67, at a time when almost no one studied law for more than two. Patrick Henry studied not more than six weeks, or so at least he told Jefferson, and Wythe for one was so convinced of the inadequacy of Henry’s training he refused to sign his license. Jefferson’s years under Wythe, years of virtually uninterrupted reading, not only in the law but also in ancient classics, English literature, and general political philosophy, were not so much an apprenticeship for law as an apprenticeship for greatness.

Fawn M. Brodie
Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1974)