Benjamin Franklin may be having his day with noted biographies, but renowned revolutionary historian Gordon S. Wood has given us something else entirely. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin is a fresh look at how Ben Franklin became a universally recognized icon of Americanism.
Wood takes us through Franklin’s process of change, from lowly son of a candle maker to successful printer/merchant; from member of the middling class to gentleman; and finally from gentleman to scientist and public servant. In all that time, our beloved Ben Franklin was a dedicated loyalist, true blue to the British Empire.
It was not until 1775, that, finally convinced of the corruption of both Crown and Parliament, he reinvented himself as one of the most important patriots of the American Revolution. Although his reputation among the fairer sex while abroad is well documented, his treatment of his wife in America is far less known – and, it turns out, far less fun and admirable. But we can thank our lucky stars and stripes that Franklin was so admired in France where his diplomatic skills convinced that country to support our revolution both monetarily and politically.
Franklin was admired, hated, revered and feared in the country of his birth, but ultimately, as his completed autobiography became a blueprint for the personal and financial success of any enterprising young man, his genius was embraced and stamped: Made in the U.S.A.