William Temple Franklin - Later Life

Later Life

When Benjamin Franklin relinquished his post and sailed home to the United States in 1785, Temple accompanied him. Franklin sent the younger man to see government officials in Washington, DC, to try to recover expenses owed for his time in Paris, but his request was not granted. With his hopes of a diplomatic career at an end, Benjamin Franklin advised Temple to try to develop as a major landowner, since many areas of the country were being settled in rapid postwar development. By this stage Temple was disillusioned. He said that the United States was riven by factions and, if a foreign power were to attempt to conquer the country, they would certainly be successful.

After the elder Franklin died in 1790, Temple lived for a while with his father William in England. In London, he acted as an agent of the American Robert Morris of Philadelphia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a financier of the American Revolution, and the wealthiest man in the United States. (See Holland Land Company, The Holland Purchase, and The Morris Reserve.) In 1792, Franklin sold 12,000,000 acres (49,000 km2; 19,000 sq mi) of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase east of the Genesee River in New York state to The Pulteney Association, made up of three British investors. There was widespread land speculation in New York after the Revolution, as most of the Iroquois nations, as allies of the British, had been forced to cede their lands to the United States by the postwar treaty. Millions of acres became available for sale to investors, speculators and settlers.

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