The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House by Daniel Mark Epstein

The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House

The dramatic story of a founding father, his illegitimate son, and the tragedy of their conflict during the American Revolution—from the acclaimed author of The LincolnsBen Franklin is the most lovable of America’s founding fathers. His wit, his charm, his inventiveness—even his grandfatherly appearance—are legendary. But this image obscures the scandals that dogged him th...

Title:The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0345544218
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:464 pages

The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House Reviews

  • Caroline
    Jun 24, 2017

    Although you don't often hear it amidst all the enduring myths surrounding the American Revolution, more than anything else it was a civil war. The 'rebellion against tyranny' was far from universal, and historians estimate as many as one third of the population of the colonies remained loyal to the Crown. It was a war of colony against mother country, brother against brother, friend against friend, and sons against fathers.

    And nowhere was this more true than in the home of the most famous Ameri

    Although you don't often hear it amidst all the enduring myths surrounding the American Revolution, more than anything else it was a civil war. The 'rebellion against tyranny' was far from universal, and historians estimate as many as one third of the population of the colonies remained loyal to the Crown. It was a war of colony against mother country, brother against brother, friend against friend, and sons against fathers.

    And nowhere was this more true than in the home of the most famous American, both at home and abroad, of his day: Benjamin Franklin. Franklin's deeds on behalf of the fledgling United States are too well known to go into detail here, but perhaps few know the story of Franklin's only son, William, governor of New Jersey and loyal to the Crown to his death. William Franklin lost everything as a result of his loyalty to his King - his family ties, his wife, his home and property, his position. He was imprisoned in squalor and isolation for over a year, and his father lifted not a finger to help him, even keeping his grandson, William's own son, from his father. William had chosen his path, and Benjamin Franklin was careful for his own position: a turncoat son was not looked upon fondly in the violent and treacherous days of the revolution.

    But whilst Benjamin Franklin's deeds and exploits before, during and after the Revolution might be legend, he did not come across as an especially appealing character in this book. A genius, perhaps; a polymath, certainly; charming, charismatic and a tab hand at diplomacy, for sure. But he also came across as self-important, pompous, selfish and petty. His neglect of his wife certainly doesn't cover him in glory, and his persistent accounting of debts his son owed him, even into death, come across as spiteful. Reading this book I couldn't help but feel that the most important thing in Benjamin Franklin's life was Benjamin Franklin. And yet it is clear William adored his father, yearned for his love and approval, and never gave up hoping for the reconciliation that would restore them to the closeness of his youth.

    I've read a number of Daniel Mark Epstein's books recently, most notably his book on the Lincolns' marriage, and I've yet to be disappointed. He has a particular knack for sympathetic portrayals of less than sympathetic characters, never judging or vilifying, yet somehow softening their flaws whilst still avoiding sycophancy or concealment. He made me feel for Mary Lincoln in his book about the Lincolns, and he made me care far more for William's fate than one might have expected. Indeed, I came away from this book with a far better opinion of William Franklin than I did of Benjamin. Perhaps that's partly a result of my being British - I'm not going to think badly of a man fighting against the Revolution and for the Crown, whereas an American reader with a different historical and cultural background might.

  • Rina
    Jun 13, 2017

    Most fans of the revolutionary era are familiar with the natural aristocracy that developed in the late 1700s and their feelings of disenfranchisement from the British Empire. One of the most interesting figures that emerged from that time period, Benjamin Franklin, has always been set apart from the other leaders of the American Revolution as eccentric. The Loyal Son, furthers the exploration of Benjamin Franklin's unconventional life by exposing his unique family relationships, which up until

    Most fans of the revolutionary era are familiar with the natural aristocracy that developed in the late 1700s and their feelings of disenfranchisement from the British Empire. One of the most interesting figures that emerged from that time period, Benjamin Franklin, has always been set apart from the other leaders of the American Revolution as eccentric. The Loyal Son, furthers the exploration of Benjamin Franklin's unconventional life by exposing his unique family relationships, which up until now, I knew little about. I found this biography of Franklin and his son fascinating. For me, the best parts were their roles in the militia during the French and Indian War and their dealings with the Native Americans. I was never aware that Benjamin Franklin championed the rights of the Natives. Nor did I know anything about his illegitimate son and what a major role he played in the colonies. Overall, I think anyone who enjoys learning about events leading up to the American Revolution will love this book.

  • Bob H
    Apr 21, 2017

    This is an important and well-researched new biography, two biographies really, one of William Franklin, royal governor of New Jersey during the Revolution, and of his famous father, Benjamin. The book follows William's life, from the 1760s on, as he rose in colonial society, and as Franklin would become more and more involved in the revolutionary movement. The war between Loyalist and Continental would divide father and son, and each would play a major role on their respective sides, William as

    This is an important and well-researched new biography, two biographies really, one of William Franklin, royal governor of New Jersey during the Revolution, and of his famous father, Benjamin. The book follows William's life, from the 1760s on, as he rose in colonial society, and as Franklin would become more and more involved in the revolutionary movement. The war between Loyalist and Continental would divide father and son, and each would play a major role on their respective sides, William as "the most influential, the most revered, and probably the most powerful American loyalist," the author tells us. We learn much about William's imprisonment and mistreatment at revolutionary hands, and his continuing estrangement from his father. It's a well-told and important story of a prominent American of those times -- and a reflection on his father Benjamin as well.

  • Janilyn Kocher
    May 19, 2017

    The Loyal Son is a revealing, thorough look at the complicated relationship William Franklin had with his father, Benjamin. The author did excellent research and scoured sources to provide the plentiful material. It was almost as fun to read the notes as it was the text. The Franklin family history was especially intriguing. For four generations illegitmacy was the norm. It was devastating to read in the epilogue the haphazard storage and care of Ben Franklin's letters and the unnecessary destru

    The Loyal Son is a revealing, thorough look at the complicated relationship William Franklin had with his father, Benjamin. The author did excellent research and scoured sources to provide the plentiful material. It was almost as fun to read the notes as it was the text. The Franklin family history was especially intriguing. For four generations illegitmacy was the norm. It was devastating to read in the epilogue the haphazard storage and care of Ben Franklin's letters and the unnecessary destruction of some of those precious missives. Epstein's book adds to the canon of Franklin historiography.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    May 30, 2017

    Many thanks to Daniel Mark Epstein, Ballantine Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

    The book begins with a fictionalized account of Benjamin Franklin traveling home with his infant son born out of wedlock. Although it is in no way based in fact, it is a beautiful story, and I immediately wanted this to be developed into its own book. It has such promise.

    War is what faces the colonies during the 1740s with the French and Indians. This infant son

    Many thanks to Daniel Mark Epstein, Ballantine Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

    The book begins with a fictionalized account of Benjamin Franklin traveling home with his infant son born out of wedlock. Although it is in no way based in fact, it is a beautiful story, and I immediately wanted this to be developed into its own book. It has such promise.

    War is what faces the colonies during the 1740s with the French and Indians. This infant son whom Benjamin and his common-law wife reared fought bravely at the same time Benjamin retired from publishing.

    William, like his father, was a bit of a ladies man, and they were both quite popular when they were sent to England as representatives of the Assembly. It was at this time that Benjamin began an accounting of monies owed to him by William that would until the end of his life.

    Soon it became apparent that William was a Loyalist and Benjamin was a Patriot, a difference of opinion that would cast a shadow on their relationship for the rest of their lives. One of the few times anyone could swear to hear Benjamin argue was with his son over his loyalties. Benjamin was for revolution and colonists' rights; William believed that King's rule was in the right. William would be " the last royal governor conducting the king's business in America." He soon became quite unpopular.

    Regardless of the role Benjamin played during the American revolution, which included postmaster general, scientist, and spymaster, it had no effect on how William was viewed or treated. He was a Tory and therefore, the enemy. He was a disgrace. William's son, Temple, also born out of wedlock, often felt caught in the middle of these two enigmatic men; he loved his father, but he was ruled by his grandfather and hopelessly spoiled by him. (Temple would continue the family tradition and also father an illegitimate child.)

    Epstein does an excellent job of bringing to light the story of a family torn apart by war. These two strong-willed men would never reunite although the love for one another was never in question. Personality traits come to the surface. I learned quite a bit about one of our nation's founding fathers. Excellent piece of work!

  • Steve
    Jun 22, 2017

    An interesting book on the strained relationship between Benjamin Franklin and his son William, whom at 24 Benjamin Franklin fathered with a woman who was not his wife. When the outbreak of the American Revolution took place, it was William who remained loyal to England and Benjamin who was an advocate for America's independence.

  • Carol
    Jun 20, 2017

    A thoughtful, well-researched account of one of the saddest stories in American history -- Benjamin Franklin's estrangement from his only surviving son, Loyalist New Jersey colonial governor William Franklin. William's distinguished career came to an ignominious end following his stubborn refusal to espouse the cause of U.S. independence. and his aid for the Loyalist cause. The greatest negotiator of his century, Franklin could not convince his son to abandon his support for the Loyalists and Wi

    A thoughtful, well-researched account of one of the saddest stories in American history -- Benjamin Franklin's estrangement from his only surviving son, Loyalist New Jersey colonial governor William Franklin. William's distinguished career came to an ignominious end following his stubborn refusal to espouse the cause of U.S. independence. and his aid for the Loyalist cause. The greatest negotiator of his century, Franklin could not convince his son to abandon his support for the Loyalists and William suffered imprisonment, disgrace, and banishment to England as he found himself on the losing side in the American Revolution. Historians believe that Benjamin Franklin intervened undercover to rescue William from the wrath of the Patriots. But the elder Franklin was ultimately unable to forgive his son and virtually cut off William in his will. Normally a shrewd judge of character, Benjamin Franklin misplaced his trust in leaving money and papers to his overindulged grandson, William Temple Franklin, resulting in the loss of many of his personal papers to history.

  • Anne Powell
    Jun 22, 2017

    This book is an excellent history of the relationship of Ben Franklin and his son William and how their being on opposite sides during the American Revolution affected that relationship. I can't say enough good things about this book. The text and story are compelling and enjoyable. I am overwhelmed by the amazing research that was done to compile this history. This book takes the information that I've typically heard about the relationship - that Ben Franklin simply wrote his son off when they

    This book is an excellent history of the relationship of Ben Franklin and his son William and how their being on opposite sides during the American Revolution affected that relationship. I can't say enough good things about this book. The text and story are compelling and enjoyable. I am overwhelmed by the amazing research that was done to compile this history. This book takes the information that I've typically heard about the relationship - that Ben Franklin simply wrote his son off when they began to differ politically - and expands it and turns it on its head. Cannot recommend it enough to those who enjoy reading and learning about the era of the American Revolution.

Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.