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American Antiques, Legacies - How Ben Franklin's Humor Was Almost The Death of Him

Jul 2, 2008
American antiques humor has been the salvation of Americans since revolutionary days, at least after and around being banned in Boston. Benjamin Franklin was a master of taking the basic ingredient of humor- the unexpected after a series of logical expected events, and turning a phrase and idea into a major social confrontation, yet causing the victims of the humor to laugh at themselves. What Franklin had done was with the tacit approval of my ancestor, at whose estate this incident happened.

In response to an Edict from King George 111 being posted in all town squares in all 13 colonies, Franklin had hopped on the next ship to London with his folios of pen quills, ink and fine papers. As my ancestor Sir Francis was Post Master General of the British Empire, and had appointed Dr. Franklin to the post of Post Master General of North America, they had become dear friends. In this case, Franklin reported directly to Sir Francis that rioting was breaking out in Philadelphia, mobs with torches and pitchforks gathering as he left.

In England, at the West Wycome Estate of Sir Francis, Dr. Franklin soon had before him many of the British Cabinet, at the invitation of Sir Francis. At this meeting, Franklin read out his improvsed Edict from the King of Prussia. To the shock of the cabinet members present, Dr. Franklin revealed he had intercepted Official Papers which he grandly presented, titled An Edict of the King of Prussia. Dr. Franklin said this Edict was at present being delivered to the German Hessian troops in America, in which they were to turn on their English allies.

In fact, all civil rights in England were now restricted, as are public gatherings of more than five persons: all muskets must be turned in. Sound familiar? At any rate, cries of attack Berlin to never trusted those Germans were being shouted, until. until one, then two, then all of the excited gentlemen noticed that Dr. Franklin and Sir Francis were smiling at each other from across the room: it was a hoax! All red faced anger had to be allowed to fizzle and sizzle out of gentlemen who had been so obviously tricked from defending to being angered by the same edict, if worded against rather in favor of their lives.

Those gentlemen now had to admit they had been tricked into walking in American mocassins for those short moments. His enforced trip to a cell in the Tower was almost worth it, as King George had not found much to smile about in this insult on the good relationship he enjoyed with his cousin Prussian kings and princes. In fact from these cousins would come the young 18 year old Victoria in 1837, promising to do good. This was a very new, higher standard to kingly or queenly requirements, after the madness of George 111 and foppish folly of George 1V.

But this humor was treasonous in the 1770's, and Sir Francis was soon pleading to King George for a pardon that Dr. Franklin was a harmless eccentric scientist of importance to his age, not a rebel. He was both. At any rate, as soon as the King grumped well be gone with him, before the King could change his mind, which he did often, Sir Francis had a ship to the Tower Exit wharf and ensured that Dr. Franklin was safely on his way to America quicker than the King could say off with his head.

This application of humor was a brave, reckless use of humor that almost cost the joker- in this case Dr. Benjamin Franklin- his life. But he was in fact on an urgent cause on behalf of a nation that did not yet exist: except in the minds of an exceptional few. As he was Post Master General of North America, he saw a mighty English speaking North American nation over much of the continent in his framework to the future. Ronald Reagan pushed this concept forward when he promoted NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement Zone as a way to create a self sufficient super nation.

Dr. Franklin would be very proud, he would expect the right to be Post Master General if he ever comes back. Expect him to present himself with some prank towards the most stuffed shirts in the room. American antiques history and humor as in America, not humour as in Britain, Canada, Australia should reign supreme. Or have the Yanks changed that to rain supreem? Only all our daughters? Sigh.
About the Author
Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure politics, wise use and mis use of power and protective love at
http://www.americanantiqueshop.com
American Antiques
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