Benjamin Franklin and the Masterminding of American Independence
by Phillip Goodrich
Narrated by Robert Petkoff, Joe Morton, Simon Jones, Euan Morton, Nicola Barber
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Pub Date 1 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 6 Nov 2021
Phillip Goodrich, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Audiobooks
There is no dearth of writings about the founding of America, but in this under-reported and under-taught story of the American Revolution, light is shed on the role Benjamin Franklin played in bringing the northern and southern colonies together against corrupt British rule. Along with an “Inner Circle” of British Abolitionists, Franklin worked behind the scenes to secure the freedom of a single American slave, James Somersett; and then, in cooperation with a vast network of colonial allies, set in motion a series of events that provided the impetus for northern patriots and politically cautious southern slaveholders to join forces.
In 1757, Benjamin Franklin cared most about the security and prosperity of his beloved adopted home of Philadelphia. Threatened by the French during King George’s War and with little help from the proprietors of Pennsylvania, the hated Penn family, Franklin sought assistance and support in London to no avail, thus leading him to develop a secret plan to gain freedom from Great Britain for Pennsylvania, and ultimately all the colonies. The success of this plot would hinge upon politically motivating the northern and southern colonies, each with vastly different interests. In the end, it was two unrelated historical events: that of the freeing of the slave Somersett in London’s highest court; and the discovery, and leaking of, the Hutchinson letters, that turned the tide in favor of independence.
Part courtroom drama, part political thriller, this assiduously researched work of American history is enacted by a cast of award-winning actors who electrify the drama as they bring to life over thirty historical characters in intermittent scenes presented in stage play form. In the London Courtroom of King’s Bench, we meet the most brilliant legal minds of the era as both sides argue their case for or against Somersett’s manumission. In the drawing room of London’s most prestigious physician, John Fothergill, we are witness to Franklin and the members of his Inner Circle as they grapple with, and meet, the massive challenges that planning a revolution entail.
Here is a critically important, little known story that adds to our understanding of yet another complicated founding father. By laying out Franklin’s audacious plan to convince southern slaveholders that revolution, and only revolution, was sufficient to ensure their right to chattel labor, we are offered further evidence that the ugly stain of racism and slavery is embedded in every moment of our history.
A Note From the Publisher
"An engaging account that explores Franklin and the Somersett case."
"Goodrich’s well-written, well-researched, somewhat folksy narrative history reads like a thriller. Even those who think they know the details of Franklin’s life and the seeds of the Revolutionary War will learn something new in this book."
—Alice Watts, HistoryNet.com
"Phillip Goodrich gives readers insight into hidden truths behind the American Revolution that some might argue rewrites history — at a crucial moment in our present day."
—K. L. Romo, BookTrib.com
“…tells the real and heretofore obscure story behind the origins of the Revolutionary War and explains how several well-known but random events during the war culminated in the creation of the United States of America.”
—Midwest Book Reviews
|13 Hours, 42 Minutes
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 22 members
I found this title absolutely fascinating. My thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the Audio version. There are various narrators throughout and they are perfect and add to the overall experience of this book.
I knew very little about Franklin and had never heard of Somerset, so I came to the subject matter as something of a novice. I am interested in American history and slavery and this title proved to be a real roller coaster. It’s a captivating story and one which brings to light so much duplicity and double dealing by the British. I had no idea that Franklin had any interest or role in the War if Independence, so I found his involvement detailed here lively and compelling. There’s a huge amount of information contained in the narrative and although I occasionally had to backtrack slightly to pick up the inferences and links, overall I’ve found it a real eye opener. With every year that goes by, I’m realising that much of the ‘accepted’ version of history and facts is often deeply flawed and nuanced. The real facts are emerging in relation to our understanding of all history and this title, for me, has added a whole new and unique take on the events depicted. It’s well written and compelling.