The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House

Ballantine. Jun. 2017. 464p. notes. index. ISBN 9780345544216. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780345544223. BIOG
Epstein (The Lincolns) delves into the complex relationship between Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) and his illegitimate son William, and the far-reaching effects the Revolutionary War had on both men. Although not unheard of at the time, Franklin's decision to raise his son with his common-law wife, Deborah Read Franklin, was out of the ordinary. William Franklin (1730–1813) grew up learning the trades of diplomacy while shadowing his father throughout America and Europe. When William became Royal Governor of New Jersey, however, he was reluctant to give up the position during the war and sided with England as a loyalist. After being placed under house arrest, William lost his home, property, and wife, who died while he was imprisoned. The rift between William and his father, who played an integral part in the colonies' fight for independence, never healed, and William lived in exile for the rest of his life. The flow of Epstein's writing allows for a fully immersive experience and illuminates the tangled family relationships of one of the pillars of the American Revolution.
VERDICT For all readers interested in biographies and those who want to learn more about this underexplored part of Franklin's life.
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