College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in History - Comprehensive (MA)
Benjamin Franklin, American Revolution, Propaganda, Treaty of Paris, Peace Negotiations, Revolutionary Politics
History | United States History
Fontenot-Miller, Bethany L., "Mightier than the Sword: Benjamin Franklin’s Satirical Rebuke of British Policy" (2019). Masters Theses. 552.
The genius of Benjamin Franklin resides not in his unique personality or worldly manner but in his distinct ability to eloquently express his ideas in written form. One of his most notable and peculiar scripted expressions emanated from his desire to assert American authority in peace negotiations with Great Britain in the final stages of the American Revolution. Franklin’s “Supplement” to the Boston Independent Chronicle, printed in 1782 at his press at Passy, satirized British political and economic procedure in an effort to illuminate British hypocrisy and defend American interests in the peace process. Though the “Supplement” has only recently earned a noticeable position in the narrative of Franklin’s biographical studies, the “Supplement” provides not only a glimpse into the evolution of Franklin’s philosophical ideas and political mentality but also a reflection of his efforts to secure a beneficial compromise through the Treaty of Paris. The two letters contained within the “Supplement,” a letter by Samuel Gerrish on Indian violence against American soldiers and civilians and another by John Paul Jones on British claims of piracy against America, were fabricated by Franklin and published as authentic articles by newspapers throughout both America and Britain. Though there is no evidence Franklin ever intended to mislead his audience with his claims, Franklin expected his publication to instigate conversation and provoke public reaction over the conduct of Parliament and the Crown. The “Supplement’s” allegations reflected Franklin’s purpose throughout the peace process to ensure restitution between American and Britain and arrange American’s diplomatic future as an autonomous nation.