William Temple Franklin - Paris


Temple, as he was generally known, accompanied his grandfather Benjamin Franklin to France in late 1776. From the age of 16, he worked as secretary to the American diplomatic mission during the American Revolution. Benjamin hoped the trip would round out Temple's education. Along with his cousin Benjamin Franklin Bache, Temple was educated further in France and Switzerland.

A bon vivant, Temple received his highest public appointment as Secretary to the American delegation at the Treaty of Paris in 1782-1783, largely through the influence of his grandfather. He never again attained a significant political post in the United States. Benjamin Franklin unsuccessfully lobbied Congress in the hope that Temple would be given a diplomatic post; he believed that, in time, his grandson would succeed him as Ambassador to France. His appeal was rejected for a variety of reasons, including political opposition to Benjamin Franklin and suspicions about Temple's relations with his Loyalist father, who by then was in exile in London. Thomas Jefferson commiserated with Temple over his failure to secure a post, but wrote a letter to James Monroe raising questions about the young man's temperament and abilities.

During the negotiations for the Treaty of Paris, Temple asked one of the British peace commissioners if something could be done for his father. He noted his father's steadfast defense of the Stamp Act, and hoped that the British government might award him a diplomatic post. During 1784, Temple went to London and reconciled with his father, lengthening his stay several times before returning to Paris at the end of the year. In January 1785, Temple received the first airmail in history when a letter from his father was brought across the English Channel by a hot air balloon flown by Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries.

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