Temple's Diary Temple's Diary
Episode 1. Who Am I?

The Electric Franklin

April 22, 1775

He was not exaggerating, my illustrious grandfather, when he warned me that this would be a long and difficult document to absorb. Long and difficult indeed! It is almost two hundred pages long, his Journal of Negotiations in London, written in the form of a letter to my father the governor. From some overheard conversations I remember, I vaguely understood that my grandfather was displeased with his son who not only spent too much, but was too obedient to the King and Parliament.

But, of course. What does he expect from a Royal Governor? What is he there for, if not to carry out instructions from London? Maybe my father is not the kind of man who rebels against authority the way grandfather has done all of his life? Is that so wrong?


When I told Dr. Franklin that I had difficulty in understanding his allusions to a whole lot of Acts I had never heard about (Tea Act, Townshend Acts, Navigation Act, Coercive Acts, Quebec Act and so on), he said not to worry.

He had learned that the Americans bunch many of them under the name of Intolerable Acts.

— "Do they really find them intolerable?"

— "More and more of them do," he replied.

He explained that the British government persisted in believing that he had been given the power to negotiate an agreement, whereas in reality all he was allowed to do was to present the grievances of the colonies whose agent he was (New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts) and to suggest the measures he thought would be acceptable to redress them. But London remained convinced that he was a kind of minister plenipotentiary, meaning one with full powers to negotiate, and they tried to bribe him, even offering a title of nobility. His anger was still so great that he turned red in the face while telling me about this offer. Just as I was pleasantly thinking: my grandfather the Baronet, my father the Governor, isn't that a nice change in my status?

I told him honestly that, of course, I would be reading his journal from the point of view of the Englishman I am. He just looked at me, shook his head, and said, "Keep an open mind."