Benjamin Franklin’s Son Was A Traitor To America

Benjamin Franklin Illegitimate Son William Franklin

Benjamin Franklin had three children: Sarah, Francis, and William. Benjamin Franklin had both Francis and Sarah by his wife, Deborah Read. Francis died at the age of 4 from smallpox. His only son to live into adulthood was William Franklin. William was actually not from the same mother as Francis and Sarah. He grew up in the same house as them, but he was born before them, to a woman Benjamin Franklin was not married to.

When we look at American history, we see Benjamin Franklin as one of the founding fathers of the United States, and a man of unparalleled wisdom and brilliance. He was to set the American trend toward ingenuity and resourcefulness that all great thinkers in America and beyond would follow. His portrait is symbolic for America, and his influence makes you wonder where America would be without his guidance.

Son William, on the other hand, had a vastly different fate. In fact, William Franklin remained loyal to Great Britain throughout the American shift towards independence. He was opposed to the very change in paradigm to which his father became identified with. Both Benjamin and William had traveled to Great Britain. Benjamin had tried to bring his son’s social standing up in British society, until William was given an appointment as Governor to New Jersey by the British royalty. He served as governor from 1762 right up until the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776.

History reports of the depth in the division of ideology between father and son.

“Reconciliation between Britain and America was not the only relationship at stake for Franklin. He would never repair the damage done to his relationship with his father, famed Patriot Benjamin Franklin, when he decided to remain loyal to the crown.”

Even after Benjamin Franklin joined the cause for American independence, son William would remain on the side of Britain. Eventually, he would be taken into custody, still refusing to recognize the new America that formed despite him. He still both openly and secretly supported operations to bring America under British rule after he was removed from the governorship. This would eventually lead to his arrest and exile to Great Britain. He would go to London, and live his last years in the country he stayed loyal to.

Benjamin Franklin And Son William Kite Experiment

The dramatic split in outlook between Benjamin and William was quite a tribulation for the Franklin family. For a father that put so much into his son’s rise in social standing, and to have him stubbornly adhere to the country responsible for that rise, would be his downfall. America offered a new domain. Fresh, uncharted, and with new ideas. Unfortunately for William Franklin, he would never acknowledge what was brewing in the New World.

The situation of Benjamin Franklin’s son is quite an enigma. William’s father would become a father for all of America, and represent the very ideals William would come to fight against. But Benjamin Franklin’s son is still recognized in the contributions he made in America as governor to New Jersey, despite the awkward turn of events.

[Photos via Mather Brown, Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis, and Alfred Jones]