The first being 8,000 pounds disappearing from the East Jersey Treasury
William Franklin, illegitimate son of Dr. Benjamin Franklin grew up almost entirely in England. It was there that he earned his Master’s degree from Oxford, got accepted to the bar and even married. He returned to America and 1763 and became Governor of New Jersey. Although William was well educated and a powerful administrator, the office of the Governor was losing power and although his first two years were mainly uneventful, several scandals paved the way for his demise.
The first being 8,000 pounds disappearing from the East Jersey Treasury and the second being his refusal to dismiss the Treasurer. Both these acts began to lead for very ill feelings towards him.
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Still, Franklin stayed loyal to the British crown, which not only cost him in the eyes of the residents but also stopped him for receiving much needed military support. In 1774 people began to reject the royal government and when the revolution began he was nearly powerless in every way, to act against it.
It was his loyalty to England that strained his relationship with his father, Dr. Benjamin Franklin. As William’s unpopularity grew, so his relationship failed. After the American Revolution began, he made his siding with the Loyalists well known and fought bitterly with his father about his decision to remain a loyal patriot. As the War progressed, this internal strife grew. In 1775 William and Benjamin parted ways, never to meet as friends again.
With America’s opposition to Britain tightening, and now young Franklin’s motives being openly challenged, New Jersey took action. In 1776 the New Jersey Congress ordered Williams arrest and he was imprisoned until 1778 when he was exchanged. While imprisoned, William suffered both physically and emotionally. While on her deathbed George Washington wrote a letter to Congress asking that she be allowed to see William, but Benjamin did not weigh in, and the request was denied.
After his release he stayed in New York for a brief period and served as president of the Board of Associated Loyalists, a pro-British party that conducted guerilla war against the colonies. Four years later Williams returned to England, never to come back to America again. It is said that he did reconcile with his father in 1784, but upon Benjamin Franklin’s death he left William virtually none of his wealth and only mentioned him in his autobiography is very indirectly and only to say they are on good standing.
Dr. Franklin also makes the point that if had England had won the war, he would have no wealth to leave his son anyway. Some theorize that when William died in 1813, that he had reconciled with his father. Others say Benjamin did meet in England with William to “forgive and forget. ” While history does prove this meeting, it does not prove any reconciliation and does state that Dr. Franklin slipped away on his last day, never saying goodbye to his son.