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Franklin William Fort

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Franklin William Fort
Franklin W. Fort (New Jersey Congressman).jpg
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1925 – March 3, 1931
Preceded byDaniel F. Minahan
Succeeded byPeter Angelo Cavicchia
Personal details
Born(1880-03-30)March 30, 1880
Newark, New Jersey
DiedJune 20, 1937(1937-06-20) (aged 57)
Rochester, Minnesota
Political partyRepublican

Franklin William Fort (March 30, 1880 – June 20, 1937) was a U.S. Representative from New Jersey.

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  • ✪ The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House
  • ✪ A Powerful Memoir of Southie - Family, Economics, Community, Society (1999)
  • ✪ Billy Graham on the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Christianity, and the Bible (1964)


>> Good afternoon everyone I would like to welcome you to the McGowan theater located in the National Archives building in Washington, DC. I am Doug Swanson, Visitor Services manager for the National Archives Museum and the producer for the noon time lecture series. Before we begin today's program I would like to remind you of other programs in the near future. Wednesday June 14th at noon David Graham will discuss his book Killers of the Flower Moon the OSAGE murders and the birth of the FBI. June 15, 7 p.m. as part of the year‑long celebration of JFK's 100th birthday. We will present the Air Force Strings Ensemble who will offer musical selections once performed in the Kennedy White House. To learn more about these and other programs and our exhibits please take a monthly event calendar from the lobby. Or visit our website at Our topic for today The Loyal Son: The War in Benjamin Franklin's House by Daniel Mark Epstein. He is an award‑winning poet, biographer and dramatist whose works include: Lincoln and Whitman, Sister Amy and the international bestseller Ballad of Bob Dylan. A native of Washington, DC. He was educated at Kenyon College. In the 1970's his poetry appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and New Republic. His first volumes of poems were published in 1973. His plays appeared in regional theater and Off‑Broadway. In 1978 he received a Prix de Rome for poetry and dramatic works. His holiday stories, Star of Wonder and the Two Menorahs are mainstays on national public radio. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974, a Guggenheim fellowship in 1984 and an Academy Award for lifetime achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006. Please join me in welcoming Daniel Mark Epstein to the National Archives. (APPLAUSE) >> Thanks Doug. Welcome everybody good afternoon and thanks for coming out. I don't know what happened to the book the images of William Franklin and his father Benjamin Franklin are on the cover of the book. That fellow who a lot of people mistake for Thomas Jefferson is actually William Franklin. Ben's illegitimate son. Some of you will be curious about what, if anything, I might have learned from studying the American revolution and the Franklin's part in it. Particularly if it might shed some light on current events. That's fair enough. We are living in challenging period of history. In 2017 a lot is expected of us in the near future as citizens and voters and lawmakers.  So, anything that we can learn from our founding fathers or their biographers ought to be delivered without delay. So, I will address this urgency right now and then read you a few pages from The Loyal Son. First of all let's try to put aside our illusions about how much about how much these Early Americans were like us. And how they were different. During many years of studying this particular period of history, I was in a constant state of wonder. I still am. So, bear with me as I find my way along here. Generally speaking, those of us with the healthy interest in history tend to romanticize or sentimentalize the people of the 18th century I know I did. We think of them as being by and large morally superior to us. Kinder. And more generous to their neighbors. Through mists and echos they may appear more honest in business dealings. They may seem more faithfull in family ties and family ties and relations and religion. And more charitable to widows and orphans. In those days senior citizens held a place of honor. We imagine that the colonists were more connected as a community with common goals. You recollect them as folks ready to settle their differences with rational arguments rather than emotional rhetoric. Or fists and swords. Those of you who've read the letters and newspapers and diaries of the 18th century will say Americans of 1776 possessed a superior command of language. They had greater powers of expression. And comprehension than the college graduates of today.  Some of these things are true. Some are false. And some are half true. Let's begin ‑‑ let's begin with the one fact that is unassailable. The colonists of the 18th century were more literate than we are not by a little they were a lot more literate. By the way, in those days nearly 90% of white Americans could read and write. Whether the colonists were better educated considering the state of knowledge ‑‑ may be a matter of discussion. But their command of language, the main medium of communication and debate, were superior to ours. This is very important, and we need to bear it in mind.  Now, let's move on from that one concrete fact to some opinions that are partly true. At the risk of measured generalization I would say people of colonial America were more generous to their neighbors than we are. This is because they had to be. It was a matter of survival. Much of our country was in the state of siege on and off by the Indians and French. And in the days before modern medicine, life was more fragile. People on the frontier had to share tools and look out for one another. And few towns were far removed from the frontier, either physically or historically. Also, in a time before television and the Internet, neighbors relied on one another more for entertainment than they do these days. Neighbors really are very entertaining if you get to know them. Everybody back then knew everybody's business without social media. (LAUGHTER) >> If you ever lived in a small town you know how this is. In 1770 Philadelphia had 25,000 people and Philadelphia was the biggest city in America. Were people more faithful in family relations and religion? Most people probably were. Divorce was uncommon. The church was the center of most community activities. Men like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were suspect because they didn't go to church very for honoring fathers and mothers there were no nursing homes back then, there weren't as many old people. Death was the main retirement plan. But such old folks as there were lived alone until they couldn't. And then they lived with their children and grandchildren. And you don't hear many complaints about it. Were they kinder or morally superior to us? I doubt it. The American people are generally kind if they are not desperate or isolated. The notion of moral levels in one group or people as being more moral is another is not very interesting to me. Let me repeat: American people now as then are fundamentally kind and certain aspects were not. And we will let it go at that.  I guess I will go into the list of the true and partly true and the partly false about Americans in the 18th century. I will mention the patently false and then move on with the discussion. With the Americans of colonial times more honest in their business dealings? No. Men and women were not more honest then. This is one thing that seems to be not so changed at all. Given an opportunity to cheat or swindle, a person with a weakness of character to cheat or swindle would do it in 1776 just as soon as he or she would do it in 2017. Ben Franklin's success in business and politics rested upon his rare honesty and the fact that people trusted him. Finally, were those folks more likely to settle their differences with rational arguments rather than emotional rhetoric? Measured words rather than pistols and swords? This is where our subject gets really interesting and lessons to be learned a few minutes ago I stated the one indisputable fact the American colonists of the 18th century were more literate than we are. Not a little more literate a lot more literate. And again, almost 90% of white colonists could read and write. They had a great deal of respect for language, and its ability to express the truth and expose falsehoods to explore a premise from all angles. And so it follows as the day follows the night our ancestors were more like to settle differences with rational arguments rather than purple rhetoric, with measured words rather than pistols and swords. This doesn't mean they always did. There were duals and blood feuds. Riots, and rebellions. But first there was rational argument. And usually quite a bit of it. I believe Ben Franklin may have been one of the only prominent men of his time who avoided being challenged to a dual this may have had something to do with Franklin's disarming power of speech. His son William was challenged to a dual at least once by another lawyer who accused him of slander. And that the challenge dissipated rather quickly into a war of words. Hamilton was not so lucky.  So, given the fact that the colonists were more capable of rational argument than we are, in settling their differences with words rather than gun powder. How do we explain this frenzy of violence that led to the war of independence? And the terrible Civil War that followed in New Jersey for months after the surrender of Cornwallace at Yorktown. Where did all of that irrational energy and cruelty come from? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Patrick Henry? Ben Franklin? John Adams, Sam Adams, Paul Revere? Those names ring in our ears like the liberty bell no taxation without representation. Give me liberty or give me death. We learned these names and phrases in grade school they give us the idea these heroes produced and directed the American revolution and our nation's independence on July 4 these men and others like them. Well, what about these names: Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick. Crispus Attucks. Patrick Carr. Any of those ring a bell? One? For most of us probably not one was a boat maker, one apprentice ivory worker, one was a sailor, a runaway slave, and unemployed Irish immigrant. These are the five men who lost their lives in the Boston Massacre in 1770 when British soldiers fired upon a mob who had attacked them. Here are some more names. Joseph Alacock. Isaac Sears, James Otis. James Kensey. Well, these are some of the lawyers and merchants who incited the mobs to riot. The same lawyers and politicians a decade later create committees of safety that would jail any man or woman who did not swear allegiance to the continental congress. You see history plays tricks on us. The sons of liberty we learn about in school we remember because they were noble, virtuous and mostly well to do. George Washington and Ben Franklin did not produce the kind of rage and violence that created the revolution. That energy existed in thousands of common people. Trades men, mechanics and farmers that were disenfranchised by the colonial governments from the time of the French and Indian wars. The income gap between the rich and poor in America aggravated by unfair tax structure and inadequate money supply. Was bound to be increased by The Stamp Act in 1765. It was easy for politicians to gain power by leading the working men to protest against it.  One of my favorite quotes I came across in research is from William Franklin the role of the governor in New Jersey in 1765 at the time of the stamp act. In a letter to his Father William says: As usual with mobs when they want to feel their power they have gone much beyond what was desired by those who first raised them. I will read that again for you. As is usual with mobs, when they once feel their own power they have gone much beyond what was desired by those who first raised them. Well, the Americans mob went beyond what was desired and the British Red coats pushed back far beyond what was required so naturally there was a war. The American revolution was not an orderly mobilization led by noble and great gentlemen in wigs and knee britches it was a mob scene. From the looting and burning of private homes over the Stamp Act to the carnage at Lexington and Concord. Our great and noble gentlemen Washington, Adams, and Franklin, did their best to make it as orderly as possible. But they did not themselves make it. The American revolution was a populist uprising and revolt. It was surely justified but might have been avoided if the British parliament had not so badly managed things. I will come to my point. What can we learn from this populist uprising that led to the American revolution? Just this: If it could happen to literate Americans more likely to settle their differences with rational arguments than with gun powder. It could certainly happen to Americans today. We no longer have literacy equal to the challenges of democracy. The America of 1765 was far better defended against demagoguery and tryanny than the America of 2017. Yet it happened. The revolution with all of its forgotten tyrannies happened despite the efforts of men like Benjamin Franklin and William Franklin to prevent it. The American revolution is a cautionary tale. A clear warning to us of the dangers of demagoguery thriving in the income gap between the rich and the poor. And it must also alert us to the dangers of a broken educational system.  The Loyal Son is my 8th biography I wrote books about Lincoln and then Bob Dylan and five years on this project. This was certainly the most difficult to write. It might be the subject of another talk on another day why it was so difficult. A question I am often asked about a book is this one: What did you discover that most surprised you? Well at this particular book I am not going to answer that question directly because in discovering it to you I would be spoiling some of the pleasures of reading The Loyal Son which is the element of surprise. But instead, I will talk about a major theme of the book a thing that surprised me. And shocked me. And it's related to what I already touched upon, the violence that is in the fabric of American populism. I encountered so much of this in the 18th century I might have become numb to it instead I continued to be shocked that's one of the traits of the historian aptitude for amazement and wonder. I never cease to be amazed at the Paxton hoodlums cruelty in killing innocent Indians or the Indians scalping the innocent Moravians, just as I am always surprised by George Washington's unexpected kindnesses. Anyway, as I am sure you know, my book is about Ben Franklin his son William and how they went their separate ways during the revolution. Father and son had been inseparable. Partners in work and play for most of their lives. They shared the same political ideals until about the time of the Boston tea party when Ben became a revolutionary. William remained loyal to the king famously loyal. Probably the most influential Tory in the colonies. He clung to his position as governor of New Jersey long after the other royal governors had stepped aside or joined the revolution. He was imprisoned for this in 1776 released in prisoners exchange in 1778 sent to New York City occupied by the British Army and was also a haven for 10,000 American loyalists who were no longer welcome in their own homes.  In New York William continued to serve the king mobilizing American loyalists as a fighting force that might supplement the British Army. Three years later, General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown. This was widely understood then as now to be virtually the end of the war the formal peace treaty would not be signed until 1783 by 1781, the military situation of the British Army in America was hopeless.  Yet the fighting continued. There are a number of reasons for this. But the formal reason had to do with the conditions of the surrender at Yorktown. Which were widely published. Article X of the surrender denies the American loyalists the immunity from punishment that is guaranteed to foreign soldiers. The loyalists were to be treated as criminals. George Washington himself was not all together pleased with this. William Franklin and his friends were horrified at Yorktown they basically had been offered up as a sacrifice for the British and Hessian soldier who fought there. Now, I am going to read you just a few pages of the book. An incident of that Civil War of retribution that followed the Civil War ‑‑ excuse me that followed the Revolutionary War that we studied in school.  Hoping to gain some tools of leverage for his refugees William Franklin begged his commander‑in‑chief to issue a public letter addressed to General Washington and the congress vowing retaliation. If any American taken prisoner at Yorktown was executed, a British ‑‑ the British would square accounts by hanging a rebel prisoner in New York. Nothing less than retributive justice, he advised, would restore confidence and a sense of security among the Tories. General Clinton, the British general, would do nothing of the kind. He would not publicly criticize his own general for the conditions of his surrender nor make a public policy of the Mosaic rule an eye for a eye. General Clinton knew very well that retributive justice would follow inevitably from Civil War. As so many suffering patriots and Tories would live to tell soldiers driven mad by violence and hunger. Innocent families caught in the cross fire. Widows and orphans the war of rebellion was over by the Civil War would rage on. But Benjamin was in France making peace William Franklin was fighting for his life and the lives of the king's subjects. They had no choice these men with prices on their heads. And despite General Clinton's gloom the loyalists still hoped the British might win the war. If it seems irrational so it was. Sane men were out of their element. Governor Franklin reported to parliament that Cornwallis' failure came not from disadvantage but blundering delay and failure to work with the American loyalists he believed he and his men could do better. That very day a convoy of associated loyalists was under sail down to Tom's river deep in Monmouth County to destroy a nest of rebel pirates, the garrison of the terrible Jack Huddy. This Captain Huddy was a vicious disowned quaker ,felon and troublemaker who led raids on British merchants capturing and sometimes murdering loyalists as the spirit moved him. He liked to boast of his cruel deeds. And some say that Huddy looked like a pirate with a black beard a head scarf and earring. Captain Huddy commanded a small fort guarding Dover, a port town, 60 miles south of New York. On a hill overlooking Tom's River the fort was a square palisade 7 feet high manned by 26 rebels with canons mounted on the four corners. The deep harbor there with its marsh grasses made a perfect base of ambush for pirates like Huddy who would lie in wait for vessels sailing north with arms or treasure. By the end of March 1782 Captain Huddy caused such loss of life and property that the associated loyalists vowed to put him out of business. They sent three armed boats bearing 80 seamen under guard of a brig shipping 30 more soldiers ready to fight. The convoy arrived there near the mouth of Tom's River on March 23rd, a sentry spied their landing at midnight and ran to awaken Huddy. When the Tories attacked at dawn the rebels behind the notched palisades were armed with muskets, pistols and long pikes. In the fight ensued the sailors swarmed over the fort losing nine men to bullets and bayonets before killing seven rebels. Huddy escaped into the village running from house to house as the Tories set fire to one after another. They burned the tavern and warehouses and every home in Dover except for two houses belonging to Tory friends. At last they found Huddy barricaded in a grist mill along with a local judge the two laid down arms and they are led in leg irons to the Tory ship bound for New York. At last Captain Huddy the man who had hanged young Steven Edwards on a whim was a prisoner of war. Arriving in New York on April 1, he was held there in a military jail. That same day, rumors came from Monmouth County that the loyalist Phillip White had been captured off the coast of Snag Swamp and and tortured. White reminded everyone of the late victim Steven Edwards, his loyalist kinsman from Shrewsberry. 27, Phillip too had a wife a son and a baby daughter. A carpenter, he also ran a privateer brig called the Wasp. This was the same man who joined a prior Tory raid on Shrewberry that took the life of rebel John Russell's father while wounding his little boy ‑‑ it's a lot of names but you will see how this turns out. Now, Phillip White's ship was anchored off of Long Branch. He was about to board her when a party of rebel horseman took him by surprise. One of these happened to be John Russell junior, the son of the man he had murdered. As John Russell chased Phillip White, White turned to fire his musket and killed one of his rebel pursuers. The others captured him. John Russell, Jr. severe and vengeful was in command of the guards that led the Tory Phillip White from the beach to Freehold. There he was to be held in the courthouse jail. It satisfied Russell's desire for revenge that Phillip White did not get to Freehold alive or even in one piece. Russell and two other soldiers pierced him with swords until he ran, Russell then overtook White three miles from Freehold and murdered him there piecemeal. What remained of the young husband and father lay bleeding upon a long table in the Monmouth courthouse for the gaping mob as a public show and a warning to traitors. The sight was so grizzly that when the victim's sister drove over from Shrewsberry with a coffin to bury him she was turned away. The agonizing martyrdom of Phillip White coincided with the loyalist's worst fears of persecution. They wanted revenge. And as news of White's murder reached William Franklin so did demands for Joshua Huddy. Franklin agreed as soon as he had custody of Huddy he would hand him over. He would entrust him to one Captain Richard Lippincott, a commissioned officer from the board of associated loyalists. When Lippincott reported to the board one morning in April William Franklin, the president, was absent. Captain Lippincott took a hearty interest in Huddy's, because he, Lippincott, had been a life-long friend of the murdered Phillip White. Captain Lippincott informed the assembled board that another friend, Clayton Tilton, was a prisoner in Freehold jail about to be hanged he wanted an order to remove Joshua Huddy and two other prisoners in chains down to Sandy Hook where he would use them to bargain for the jailed Tilton's freedom. A little later William Franklin came through the door and greeted everyone and glanced at the document on the table. But Lippincott had another note folded note he wanted the governor to read. He pressed it upon Franklin and asked him: Would this do? Would this do? The vice‑president of the board intervened angrily telling the captain put that scribbling away. And so the captain Lippincott went away with his orders to provost jail, there the the marshal bound John Huddy and two others to Lippincott and his company headed for the bay in the schooner. But instead of running the three rebels straight to Freehold to negotiate the prisoner exchange captain Lippincott stowed them aboard an armed ship the Britannia off of Sandy Hook. The ship's captain agreed to hold them. Lippincott set off with his soldiers to free Tilton by force of arms from Freehold prision. It didn't work out. Failing in the rescue attempt Lippincott in a rage returned to the Britannia and asked for one prisoner, Joshua Huddy. What happened in the next few hours on the beach at Gravelly Point was witnessed by 24 men. The April sunlight on the hills behind them strong light on the sand and sea. They would never forget the weirdness of the scene. Carpenters hammered up a gallows of stout planks above a barrel. Fastened a noose to the top brace. The rope from the Britannia made a curious shadow on the sand. Joshua Huddy was given a quill and paper and invited to write his last will upon the barrel head. He wrote it. Maintaining admirable poise. Then most of the men stood back to watch Huddy, Lippincott and a black slave in a queer pantomime against the sea and sky. Huddy and Lippincott were conversing softy. There was no sign or sound of anger. No pleading or condemnation. The slave put the noose around Huddy's neck and tightened it Huddy climbed up on the barrel put his hand out to Richard Lippincott for him to shake and he did. The black man pulled the rope tight fastened it and kicked over the barrel.  There have been hundreds of murders just as barbarous on both sides of the conflict but this was the one that got the attention of George Washington, Henry Clinton , America and all of Europe. The same paper that captain Lippincott had unfolded at the board meeting was pinned to Huddy's shirt as he hung on the gallows it read: We the refugees having longed with grief beheld the cruel murders of our brethren finding nothing but such measures daily carried into execution we, therefore, determine not to suffer without taking vengeance for the numerous cruelties and thus begin having made use of Captain Huddy as the first object to present to your view. And we further determine to hang man for man while there is a refugee existing. Up goes Huddy for Phillip White. Well, some of you students of American history may know that this is the incident that started the famous Asgill affair. George Washington was called upon to hang a British prisoner in retaliation of the execution of Joshua Huddy. The British prisoner chosen by lot, Charles Asgill a very handsome 19‑year‑old lieutenant. Who also happened to be the son of the mayor of London. George Washington's dilemma became famous in Europe to Ben Franklin's dismay it nearly ruined the peace he was on the verge of making. You learn about this when you read The Loyal Son. The passage that I just read to you a scene from the war of retribution which continued to the war of independence it recalls one of the more appalling instances of deliberate cruelty and violence that had no defensible cause. It was one of many. America had won the war, Huddy was lynched in a savage violation of martial law. Some of the men involved believed they were doing the right thing. The necessary thing in retaliating. But these soldiers were the victims of desperation and isolation. You may recall my remark the Americans are naturally kind, when they are not desperate or isolated. American loyalists of 1782 were desperate and isolated for the reasons that I have explained. And their enemies the provincial patriots of New Jersey were also desperate and isolated and these factions did unspeakable things to each other. I discovered this chain of events in obscure accounts for the period and then I had to tell the story. I found it utterly shocking as I think you will. This is the part of American history that doesn't make it into the history books by and large. I came upon it in the course of learning about Ben Franklin and his tragic relationship with his son William. William had something to do with the hanging of Joshua Huddy although he cannot be blamed for it. His poor father three thousand miles away in France would have to deal with the fall out of George Washington's dilemma the condemnation of lieutenant Charles Asgill in retaliation for the hanging of Huddy. What began as international embarrassment and scandal came face to face with the private tragedy of Ben Franklin's quarrel with his son. This was the story I would have to tell as well as I could. I offer it with humility but without apology in The Loyal Son. If you want to understand our history, and the American character, you have to see all of it. Good, the evil, the splendid, and the sordid. You have to go beyond the scenes of George Washington crossing the Delaware in that pantheon heroes in the state house in Philadelphia on the 4th of July. Reading the Declaration of Independence. All of these things are real. But you cannot understand the nobility of our heroes without knowing the desperation of the common people.  thank you. (APPLAUSE) >> So, I will take questions. It's ‑‑ I like questions. Sometimes I can answer them. Be sure that if you ask a question you go to the aisle. There is a speaker ‑‑ there is a mic there and a mic there. And questions? Yes, sir. >> You said that Ben Franklin was known to be honest. What's the evidence? >> Um ‑‑ >> How do you know that? >> Well, that's ‑‑ that's a really ‑‑ that's a really good question. I think that his generosity ‑‑ his generosity of spirit when you think about the fact that he never looked to patent some of his inventions that he had that if you are going to be businessman, I think in any period of history, and you are going to borrow money and you are going to ‑‑ you know in order to finance things you are going to have a lot of business dealings as much as he had with that many people, you have to be trusted. And people who are not trustworthy get caught in lies. And that's something we don't find in the vast general correspondence of Franklin and his circle, there is just no evidence that he was not trustworthy. And then the fact that so many of the state ‑‑ excuse me, the colonial legislatures trusted him to plead their cause in ‑‑ in England during the 1760s and 1770s. You don't do that unless you can really trust the person. Yes, sir. >> Thanks for a fascinating discussion about the American revolution. Particularly appropriate since my friends and I just returned a few months ago from visiting 13 American revolutionary war sites, battle sites in the back country of South Carolina where loyalists and patriots would really do to each other. My question to you is about your statement that the American revolution was a mob scene. That although George Washington and Ben Franklin did their best to make things a bit more orderly, it was a mob scene and this in a country that was more likely to settle arguments with rational discourse, and then you went on and said: It could happen today. And I wonder if you could address how it could happen today, given the 250 years of social evolution, cultural evolution, media evolution but most particularly, constitutional evolution the fact that there was no constitution then and that what Washington and Franklin and Madison and Hamilton did was to establish a way of life in ‑‑ and a system of government that had tremendous checks and do check and tremendous balances that do balance, thanks. >> You raise a very good point. And certainly the evolution of the American character as a result of the constitution is something that mitigates against this sort of tyrannies and mob violence that occurred during the revolution that's a very good point. The problem as I see it, is the fact that we don't have ‑‑ as a people, we do not have the skills of rational argument in order to settle disputes that we had then. The Constitution, I think, is under constant ‑‑ is in danger because of the failure to argue logically, and so that's the real danger that I see. Other questions? Yes? >> (inaudible) you mind if I ask ‑‑ >> I will repeat it if ‑‑ >> (inaudible) >> That's a very good question. The question is: To what extent was the split between the Franklins the result of the psychology the dynamic between the two personally and to what extent was it caused simply caused by the political situation. And certainly both things ‑‑ both things played a part. Let me just briefly address the personal dynamic. I do talk in my book about, there was a level of competition mostly from the older man's side of Ben Franklin I believe felt that he was in a sense in competition with his son. His son was fantastically successful in his 30s and 40s and Benjamin Franklin was financially very successful and world famous, but he still felt a kind of competition with his son. So, I think that that was part of it played into it. But the fact that they lived such very different lives during the 1760s and 1770s when William Franklin was the governor of New Jersey, he was living in America, he was ‑‑ he was basically had replaced his father as (inaudible) in taking care of Debra the wife and daughter ‑‑ they were living in different worlds. Benjamin Franklin for most of that time was living in England where he had a whole other ‑‑ a kind of surrogate family there. Then a number of things happened to Benjamin Franklin that alienated him from parliament, a terrible scandal having to do with purloined letters and so things got worse and worse and worse for Benjamin Franklin in England. And you got to remember 3,000 miles in those days across the ocean, so a lot of the split ‑‑ the alienation had to do with they are living in different worlds. Yes. >> I wanted to go back to the beginning of the story almost. I hadn't realized how is it that Benjamin and William had such a close relation given shame of I will legitimacy in the culture at the time. >> It was ‑‑ there wasn't all that much ‑‑ well, let's put it this way: In those days, men of the middle class and of the upper class frequently raised children, particularly sons not so much daughters but they would raise sons out of wedlock. And Philadelphia in the 1740s ‑‑ well first of all, most people didn't know that William Franklin was not the natural son of Debra ‑‑ if they did know they didn't ‑‑ they kind of overlooked it. So, he was ‑‑ he was raised in Philadelphia in the 17 ‑‑ 1740s and 1750s just as if he had been a legitimate son with all of the privileges and ‑‑ you know, he courted women of, you know, the upper classes. So, there wasn't all that much sigma shall did‑‑now, later during the war, the early years of the early 1770s, Benjamin Franklin's enemies would use this as a stick to beat him. Other questions? Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE) >> Thank you for coming. >> Don't forget there is a book signing.


Born in Newark, New Jersey, Fort moved in 1888 with his parents to East Orange, New Jersey. He attended the public schools and Newark Academy. He was graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1897 and from Princeton University in 1901. He attended New York Law School 1901-1903. He was admitted to the bar in 1903 and commenced practice in Newark. Recorder of East Orange, New Jersey, in 1907 and 1908. During World War I he served as a volunteer on the staff of the United States Food Administrator, Washington, D.C. from 1917 to 1919. He engaged in the insurance business in 1919 at Newark, New Jersey, and was also interested in banking.

Fort was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-ninth, Seventieth, and Seventy-first Congresses (March 4, 1925 – March 3, 1931). He was not a candidate for renomination, but was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination as United States Senator in 1930. He served as secretary of the Republican National Committee 1928-1930. He resumed the practice of law. He served as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board from January 1932 to March 1933. He died on June 20, 1937, in Rochester, Minnesota. He was interred in Bloomfield Cemetery in Bloomfield, New Jersey.[1]


External links

  • United States Congress. "Franklin William Fort (id: F000287)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Works by or about Franklin William Fort at Internet Archive
  • William Franklin Fort at The Political Graveyard
  • Franklin William Fort at Find a Grave
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Daniel F. Minahan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1925 – March 3, 1931
Succeeded by
Peter A. Caviccia
This page was last edited on 21 May 2019, at 07:42
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