The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
Volume 44: March 16 through September 13, 1785; Supplementary Documents, December, 1776, through July, 1785
Imprint: Yale University Press
Series: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
This volume covers Franklin’s final months as minister to France and his voyage back to America. He received his long-awaited permission from Congress to return home; accepted the king’s parting gift of a miniature portrait surrounded by diamonds; settled his accounts; and arranged passage for himself and his two grandsons on a ship bound from England to Philadelphia. Franklin instructed the French government on the culinary uses of maize and wrote a lengthy “eye-witness” account of China that includes directions for making tofu. His last public act in France was signing the Prussian-American Treaty of Commerce, which contained three unprecedented articles: the two he wrote in 1782 guaranteeing protections during wartime for noncombatants, and a third guaranteeing humane treatment for prisoners of war.
On the English coast, Franklin met with his Loyalist son William and witnessed William’s signing over his American property to his son William Temple Franklin. Aboard the London Packet, Franklin wrote three scientific papers, including the copiously illustrated “Maritime Observations.” His original line drawings are reproduced here for the first time. The volume ends with an appendix containing supplementary documents from the French mission.
“The Papers of Benjamin Franklin series remains among the premier scholarly accomplishments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”—Carla J. Mulford, Reviews in American History