Benjamin Franklin was certainly a “larger than life” figure here in America, who, through his unrivaled brilliance made tremendous advances in the fields of science, math and of course good old common sense. However, to the French, well, he was… something else!!! Upon his arrival to the foreign land, he quickly embraced the festive and bohemian atmosphere and found that the world (or France at least) was indeed his oyster. He was viewed by the French as vivacious, outgoing, infinitely charming and decidedly witty!
So just how did the formidable Franklin use his myriad charms coupled with his razor-sharp intellect to parlay an absolute coup against the British, with just a little help from France?
The invaluable boon to the Patriot cause occurred this day in 1777 when Mr. Franklin managed to persuade the French Foreign Minister, Charles Gravier (Count of Vergennes), to proclaim the official sovereignty of the United States.
He took full advantage of several tools in his intellectual arsenal: First, Franklin became privy to the fact that the Continental Army had easily gained victory over British forces at the Battle of Saratoga. And second, he shrewdly revealed that England was occupying the city of Philadelphia.
The political and militaristic gains from this acknowledgement by France were far-reaching and critical to the success of the American Revolution. As a result of the recognition of the United States as an independent country, France elected to assist their war efforts by providing monetary aid and even stepping in at a later time to offer military assistance.
So what did this notable negotiation get Benjamin Franklin when he returned to the United States? Not as much as a mention during the remainder of his years from any official realm. The quick-thinking intellectual with the far-flung spirit so beloved by the French people, negotiated $13 billion (in today’s dollars) worth of indispensable gun powder that was used by Continental Forces! Yet he received no grand accolades from his home country.
But for a man who had a true appreciation for the freedom he relished to imbibe every precious drop of this grand and glorious life, it’s doubtful that it affected his indomitable spirit in the least!