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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a masterful, first-of-its-kind dual biography of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, illuminating their partnership's enduring importance.  One of Washington Post's "10 Books to Read in February" • One of USA Today’s “Must-Read Books" of Winter 2020  •  One of Publishers Weekly's "Top Ten" Spring 2020 Memoirs/Biographies T From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a masterful, first-of-its-kind dual biography of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, illuminating their partnership's enduring importance.  One of Washington Post's "10 Books to Read in February" • One of USA Today’s “Must-Read Books" of Winter 2020  •  One of Publishers Weekly's "Top Ten" Spring 2020 Memoirs/Biographies Theirs was a three-decade-long bond that, more than any other pairing, would forge the United States. Vastly different men, Benjamin Franklin—an abolitionist freethinker from the urban north—and George Washington—a slavehold­ing general from the agrarian south—were the indispensable authors of American independence and the two key partners in the attempt to craft a more perfect union at the Constitutional Convention, held in Franklin’s Philadelphia and presided over by Washington. And yet their teamwork has been little remarked upon in the centuries since. Illuminating Franklin and Washington’s relationship with striking new detail and energy, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson shows that theirs was truly an intimate working friendship that amplified the talents of each for collective advancement of the American project. During the French and Indian War, Franklin supplied the wagons for General Edward Braddock’s ill-fated assault on Fort Duquesne, and Washington buried the general’s body under the dirt road traveled by those retreating wagons. After long sup­porting British rule, both became key early proponents of inde­pendence. Rekindled during the Second Continental Congress in 1775, their friendship gained historical significance during the American Revolution, when Franklin led America’s diplomatic mission in Europe (securing money and an alliance with France) and Washington commanded the Continental Army. Victory required both of these efforts to succeed, and success, in turn, required their mutual coordination and cooperation. In the 1780s, the two sought to strengthen the union, leading to the framing and ratification of the Constitution, the founding document that bears their stamp. Franklin and Washington—the two most revered figures in the early republic—staked their lives and fortunes on the American experiment in liberty and were committed to its preservation. Today the United States is the world’s great super­power, and yet we also wrestle with the government Franklin and Washington created more than two centuries ago—the power of the executive branch, the principle of checks and balances, the electoral college—as well as the wounds of their compromise over slavery. Now, as the founding institutions appear under new stress, it is time to understand their origins through the fresh lens of Larson’s Franklin & Washington, a major addition to the literature of the founding era.  


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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a masterful, first-of-its-kind dual biography of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, illuminating their partnership's enduring importance.  One of Washington Post's "10 Books to Read in February" • One of USA Today’s “Must-Read Books" of Winter 2020  •  One of Publishers Weekly's "Top Ten" Spring 2020 Memoirs/Biographies T From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a masterful, first-of-its-kind dual biography of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, illuminating their partnership's enduring importance.  One of Washington Post's "10 Books to Read in February" • One of USA Today’s “Must-Read Books" of Winter 2020  •  One of Publishers Weekly's "Top Ten" Spring 2020 Memoirs/Biographies Theirs was a three-decade-long bond that, more than any other pairing, would forge the United States. Vastly different men, Benjamin Franklin—an abolitionist freethinker from the urban north—and George Washington—a slavehold­ing general from the agrarian south—were the indispensable authors of American independence and the two key partners in the attempt to craft a more perfect union at the Constitutional Convention, held in Franklin’s Philadelphia and presided over by Washington. And yet their teamwork has been little remarked upon in the centuries since. Illuminating Franklin and Washington’s relationship with striking new detail and energy, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson shows that theirs was truly an intimate working friendship that amplified the talents of each for collective advancement of the American project. During the French and Indian War, Franklin supplied the wagons for General Edward Braddock’s ill-fated assault on Fort Duquesne, and Washington buried the general’s body under the dirt road traveled by those retreating wagons. After long sup­porting British rule, both became key early proponents of inde­pendence. Rekindled during the Second Continental Congress in 1775, their friendship gained historical significance during the American Revolution, when Franklin led America’s diplomatic mission in Europe (securing money and an alliance with France) and Washington commanded the Continental Army. Victory required both of these efforts to succeed, and success, in turn, required their mutual coordination and cooperation. In the 1780s, the two sought to strengthen the union, leading to the framing and ratification of the Constitution, the founding document that bears their stamp. Franklin and Washington—the two most revered figures in the early republic—staked their lives and fortunes on the American experiment in liberty and were committed to its preservation. Today the United States is the world’s great super­power, and yet we also wrestle with the government Franklin and Washington created more than two centuries ago—the power of the executive branch, the principle of checks and balances, the electoral college—as well as the wounds of their compromise over slavery. Now, as the founding institutions appear under new stress, it is time to understand their origins through the fresh lens of Larson’s Franklin & Washington, a major addition to the literature of the founding era.  

30 review for Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership

  1. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I didn’t really want to read another book about the Revolutionary War and the creation of the republic. The paring of Franklin and Washington was really just a device to lure readers like me into this book, and to rehash history. The book was fine, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. 3.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    3+ The publisher’s description of Franklin and Washington calls it a “dual biography”; I think this will set up the wrong expectation in a reader. The book has interesting details about Franklin and Washington’s lives, but I think it is better described as a history of the founding of our country, with an emphasis on the contributions of these two men. Indeed, one might wonder if our country would have been founded at all without Franklin and Washington, given their central roles in so many aspe 3+ The publisher’s description of Franklin and Washington calls it a “dual biography”; I think this will set up the wrong expectation in a reader. The book has interesting details about Franklin and Washington’s lives, but I think it is better described as a history of the founding of our country, with an emphasis on the contributions of these two men. Indeed, one might wonder if our country would have been founded at all without Franklin and Washington, given their central roles in so many aspects of that period of history. In the first section of the book, Larson discusses the French and Indian War and other military actions that preceded the Revolutionary War in some detail. We all know of Washington’s participation, but I had not realized that Franklin led the Pennsylvania militia during the French and Indian War. The second section takes the reader through the Revolutionary War, where Franklin’s diplomatic success was crucial to Washington’s military accomplishments. And in the final section, we learn about the meetings that produced the US Constitution, and how Franklin and Washington pragmatically helped guide the representatives of the then-sovereign states to overcome their significant differences and form a more perfect union. Within the broader picture of the founding of the United States, Larson paints wonderful portraits of Franklin and Washington’s contrasting personalities and styles and gives interesting information on their early lives that we don’t usually get in history class, e.g., Washington was not always the aristocratic plantation owner we associate with Mount Vernon, and both men in today’s terms might be called real estate speculators. This is mostly in the context of their historical importance; for example, there is little about their marriages or children. Despite their differences in age, background, and personality (Larson calls Washington the “father figure” and Ben Franklin the “favorite uncle”.) and their geographic separation in an age when both transportation and communication were so difficult, he emphasizes their long friendship and stresses that they were “friends first and, unlike John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, never rivals.” It is not surprising that a historian of Larson’s stature would make use of primary sources, and the book is enlivened by quotes from many of the famous figures of the day. This modern reader especially enjoyed the contrast between the more formal style used in that period and the poor spelling that came from the common lack of much formal education. I was surprised to hear that Franklin had more formal education than Washington, and Washington shows his lack of education when he complains that his troops during the French and Indian War “are of those loose, Idle Persons that are quite destitute of House, and Home, and, I may truely say, many of them of Cloaths.” Some of their contemporaries apparently felt Franklin’s and Washington’s contributions were overrated. John Adams complained that history would say that “Dr Franklins electrical Rod, Smote the Earth and out Spring General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his Rod—and thence forward these two conducted all the Policy Negotiations Legislation and War.” Ed Larson is too good a historian to foster such exaggeration, but he leaves the reader with a real appreciation for the accomplishments of these two remarkable men.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    3.5 stars. Interesting concept: The friendship and partnership of founding Americans Ben Franklin and George Washington is an overlooked and crucial piece of history. This book is a great review of the events that transpired in and related to the American colonies from about 1750-1800. It's a helpful chronology, it brings in other key players without overwhelming the reader with too many to keep track of, and it successfully weaves in Franklin's and Washington's separate and joint contributions. 3.5 stars. Interesting concept: The friendship and partnership of founding Americans Ben Franklin and George Washington is an overlooked and crucial piece of history. This book is a great review of the events that transpired in and related to the American colonies from about 1750-1800. It's a helpful chronology, it brings in other key players without overwhelming the reader with too many to keep track of, and it successfully weaves in Franklin's and Washington's separate and joint contributions. The main focuses are the Revolution and the Constitution, unsurprisingly. I find it so interesting how hard it is for historians to denounce Washington vis-à-vis slavery. Even when they are grappling with his enthusiastic support and use of the cruel institution, and going so far as to question and criticize ol' Geo. W., they just can't stop from talking about how he managed to be "great" (in the sense of significant.) They are so rarely able to just write a scathing critique. There are many fun facts herein, and I gained an even deeper understanding of Franklin, always enjoyable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    It was a little dry going through all the battles of the Revolutionary War, but other than that this was a great history refresher course, as well as a really great tribute to two very incredible men.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carl R.

    Pretty much everyone knows that Benjamin Franklin and George Washington  were prime movers and shakers both pre-and post the American revolution and that their work did as much as any human efforts to shape this country. Libraries of books have been published about both of them. Hours of instruction have been spent exploring their lives and writings. What, then, you might ask yourself, as I did myself, does the world need with still more? Edward J. Larson  answers the question in fairly short ord Pretty much everyone knows that Benjamin Franklin and George Washington  were prime movers and shakers both pre-and post the American revolution and that their work did as much as any human efforts to shape this country. Libraries of books have been published about both of them. Hours of instruction have been spent exploring their lives and writings. What, then, you might ask yourself, as I did myself, does the world need with still more? Edward J. Larson  answers the question in fairly short order, but I'm going to lead here with what I found his most trenchant point, even though it occurs near the end of the book. The matter of Slavery.  The debates about slavery and the constitution are pretty well-known. The argument about the relative influence of large states and small states became intertwined with with how to count slaves. On the one hand, the more people you have in your state, the greater your influence in the house of representatives. On the other hand, if slaves were property and not really people, how could you count them at all? The 3/5 compromise whereby each slave counted as 60% of a person for census purposes was the result. Thus was the nation founded on a logically absurd, not to mention inhumane, premise. Most writers pass this off as a sort condition of the times with little more consequence than knee-britches and cocked hats. That's always bothered me, and Larson is the first historian I've read who takes it head on.There was a thriving and powerful abolitionist movement in the colonies, not the least of which was based in Franklin's Pennsylvania. The movement recognized slavery as a hideous wrong, and he was part of the faction who opposed it.Even though he had some house slaves over the years, he had freed them by the time of the revolution and he had argued eloquently against notions of Negro inferiority. The constitutional debates were filled with vitriolic rhetoric on both sides of the issue. Most memorable for me was the remark Larson quotes by one of our most quoted orators. The same man who called, "Give me liberty or give me death," when the time came to toss out the Articles of Confederation, yelled to all and sundry They Will Free Your Niggers! Such eloquence from a scion of the enlightenment, no?The final document (this I did not know) forbad even discussing, let alone acting on, the question of slavery until 1808, twenty years after the nation would be established. Thus did these courageous men turn into cowards when confronted with the deepest moral conflict of their time. And dare I say we are still paying the price. Though urged by close friends to free his slaves, Washington could not bring himself to do so during his life, instead leaving manumission to a time after his wife had died. I might also mention that Jefferson, too, brilliant though he was, couldn't quite figure out how to let go of his mistress/chattel Sally Hemings or her (his, too, of course) mixed race children. Such a dilemma. Poor guy. But back to the other 250 pages or so of Franklin and Washington. I've done a fair amount of reading on the period, and Larson is certainly correct in stating that despite their separate accomplishments, no one has much explored how the relationship between the two men began, developed, and influenced this particular "course of human events." That Washington was a surveyor is fairly well-known. That he used his surveying work to get the inside scoop on available land and thus build his freehold far beyond what it would have otherwise been is much less known. At least to me. Nothing wrong with that. In a system of primogeniture, the third son competing with not only two brothers but a couple of half-brothers needed every advantage he could get. Franklin had it just as bad or worse, trailing in birth behind five older brothers. He was every bit as enterprising as Washington, but chose, as most of us know, to write, print, publish, and invest rather than to join the landed gentry. Or, as Washington did, to join the military. Both became prominent in their own ways and undoubtedly knew of one another, but their paths ran parallel for decades without significantly touching one another  (Franklin being twenty years the senior), finally converging during first continental congress in 1774. Astoundingly, Franklin was sixty-nine at that time, yet still had the energy to exercise leadership far beyond the capabilities and energy of lesser and younger men.Washington had built himself a considerable military reputation as a British officer, had married well, and had become a man of property and influence.How could two men with such disparate skills, separated by a generation of years and constellation of life experiences, work together amid the crises that finally resulted in a group of ragtag colonies defeating the army of the world's preeminent war machine? Larson doesn't make it explicit, but it seems obvious that their different backgrounds and styles complemented one another. Washington, the stalwart soldier, tall, commanding, accustomed to being listened to and obeyed. Franklin, the convivial joiner, intellect, scientist, founder of discussion groups on every conceivable subject. The theorist as well as a practical realist who founded libraries, invented machines and spectacles, and created homespun mottoes to live by. Washington could command a room simply by walking through the door. Franklin could start a conversation with about anyone on any subject. And do it a at least two languages. Thus a diplomat and a general. The revolution needed both. Washington appears in our mythology in full military regalia. Franklin dared to look rather ridiculous in a fur hat that enthralled the French and their romantic image of America when he was ambassador. The revolution needed both. And, though the two men apparently were never really hugs and loving close, they formed a potent team that had as much to do not only with the success of the revolution but in reflecting and even forming the character that became us.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    With a critical presidential election less than nine months away, millions of Americans are looking for guidance before they cast what might be the most important vote of a lifetime. Perhaps they would be wise to turn their attention from the din of social media to American history for both reassurance and inspiration. A good starting point in their search could be Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson’s FRANKLIN & WASHINGTON: The Founding Partnership, an impressive joint survey of t With a critical presidential election less than nine months away, millions of Americans are looking for guidance before they cast what might be the most important vote of a lifetime. Perhaps they would be wise to turn their attention from the din of social media to American history for both reassurance and inspiration. A good starting point in their search could be Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson’s FRANKLIN & WASHINGTON: The Founding Partnership, an impressive joint survey of the lives of “the indispensable authors of American independence and the two key partners in the attempt to craft a more perfect union…” Aimed at the general reader and, given the accomplishments of both men, eschewing any attempt at comprehensiveness, Larson’s account comprises three acts. The first --- focused on the French and Indian War --- examines the foundation of his subjects’ relationship, one that endured for more than three decades, and their connections in the period before the American Revolution. In the second section, Larson recounts their respective roles --- Washington on the battlefield and Franklin mostly in European diplomacy --- in achieving what must have seemed to both at many moments an improbable victory in the Revolutionary War. Finally, he analyzes their contributions to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution of the new American nation, with particular attention to their divergent views on the issue of slavery. Emerging a generation apart from two radically different backgrounds --- Franklin the 15th of 17 children of a working-class Boston family, who left home at age 17, eventually landing in Philadelphia where he made his fortune in the printing business, and Washington, the scion of a well-to-do family of Virginia planters --- at first they would seem to share few traits that would allow them to work “shoulder to shoulder on the patriot cause.” Indeed, the two did not meet until 1755, when Franklin was already 49 years old, and Washington was just beginning to emerge as a public figure as a result of his military exploits on America’s western frontier. But as Larson demonstrates, “they shared a republican ideology and progressivist faith that relied on human reason and divine providence rather than traditional ways and established dogmas. They sought truth and accepted facts. Life could get better, they believed. Theirs did.” Following on the drama of the eight-year-long Revolutionary War --- when Washington masterminded a disorganized and chronically underfunded army to achieve victory over the world’s most imposing military force, while Franklin deployed his considerable skill as a negotiator to secure France’s decisive support for the war effort --- the debates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, to which Larson devotes a great deal of attention, may seem arid by comparison. Yet it was in those debates that the foundation of an enduring republic was laid, along with the roots of some of the controversies --- notably, the conflicts between large and small states --- that define our politics to this day. Chief among those controversies was slavery, the issue that Larson argues “shaped the Constitution.” On this issue, the views of Franklin and Washington could not have been more divergent. Washington, the owner of Mount Vernon, was master to some 300 slaves, ones he treated with barely a modicum of kindness. Though the urbanite Franklin at one time owned a handful of house slaves, his views on the issue evolved over his long life, culminating with his assumption of the presidency of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society just before the opening of the Constitutional Convention. Franklin was nothing if not a pragmatist, and for all his principled opposition to the evil of slavery, he realized that some form of compromise, however odious it might be to him personally, had to be reached if the states had any hope of achieving the unity he had believed, since crafting the Albany Plan of Union in 1754 was essential to the growth of a new nation. Though the Constitution as ratified granted slaves only 60 percent personhood and barred any attempt at abolition before 1808, Franklin persisted in attempts to restrict slavery between the date of ratification and his death in 1790, an effort that “served to confirm his benevolent, philanthropic, and forward-looking nature.” Larson, who already has produced two books about Washington and another on the Constitutional Convention, is unabashedly sympathetic toward his subjects, though it appears he has a special affection for Franklin, the Renaissance man whose accomplishments in science, literature and philanthropy he touches on only briefly. Washington, he writes, governed “with a granite, tight-lipped self-control that made him the stoic father figure for a nation that adopted Franklin as its favorite uncle.” Despite their differences on substance and in style, theirs was a relationship of mutual admiration and respect, as “each recognized the other’s goodness and greatness.” While fully reckoning with their shortcomings, Larson is intent on leaving the reader with portraits that reveal both Franklin and Washington as extraordinary leaders. “Despite their flaws,” he writes, “Franklin and Washington have held up better under examination than most leaders of any age. Theirs was the founding partnership that launched a nation.” Facing the far different perils of our own age, is it too much to expect our current leaders, as these two men did, to rise to the challenges the times pose to them? Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzi

    well written but too much like being back in history class

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Youngman

    Felt like I was reading a term paper.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deacon Tom Frankenfield

    3 1/2. Good book. I was a bit overwhelmed by the about of politics involved. I was looking more for a historical book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Skjam!

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was offered or requested. A dual biography of Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) and George Washington (1732-1799) is, I will state right up front, is a good idea. Both men were instrumental in moving the American Colonies from loyal but disgruntled subjects of the British Crown to the United States of America, an independent country with its own constitution chosen by Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was offered or requested. A dual biography of Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) and George Washington (1732-1799) is, I will state right up front, is a good idea. Both men were instrumental in moving the American Colonies from loyal but disgruntled subjects of the British Crown to the United States of America, an independent country with its own constitution chosen by those who lived there. This volume details the times these friends cooperated, and some of their differences. The first point of concentration is the French and Indian War, in which both Franklin and Washington worked to protect their individual colonies, but found common ground and began corresponding. Both men were industrious, and self-made at the beginning. Washington, however, only a few years into adulthood became considerably wealthier by inheritance as a series of family deaths wiped out his close relatives. Having started industrious, he then worked to make his plantation more successful, as well as becoming known as a soldier and leader of men when his colony needed him. The book talks about how the men became disillusioned with British rule, both in general, and due to personal slights. Franklin was more diplomatic by nature, and spent quite some time abroad, first in England trying to mitigate the various taxes imposed after the Seven Years’ War, and during the American Revolution, convincing the French to support the rebelling colonies. Meanwhile, George Washington became General Washington, leading the American troops through many lean years of hardship until the British occupation was finally broken. After the war ended, both Franklin and Washington had learned the dangers of too little coordination between the colonies, jealous of their own prerogatives. The once vibrant Continental Congress had most of its best people move on to military service or their individual state governments, while petty men served in the broader congress. The Articles of Confederation gave each new state its own full powers, which meant that they could starve the national government and refuse to pay the veterans of the revolution on time. A better government was needed, and so a convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation, which turned into the creation of the American Constitution. Franklin was elderly and nearly bedridden by this point, but still managed to show up (the meeting hall wasn’t too far from his house) and help out, while Washington presided over the convention. It was pretty obvious that George Washington was the only one to be trusted as head of the new government, so his ideas were also listened to. But one of the big differences between Franklin and Washington was their attitudes towards slavery. In his early career, Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, because that was how you got ahead in business, but exposure to Quaker ideas and abolitionism through his printing business caused Franklin to realize the moral implications of the practice. (Plus he’d been an indentured servant once, so didn’t buy the “benevolent master” argument.) He freed his own slaves and urged others to do the same, eventually founding a major Abolitionist society. Meanwhile, George Washington came from the planter class of Virginia. Although he seems to have begun realizing the immorality of slavery sometime during the American Revolution due to interacting with free black people, Washington kept his reservations private. He needed slaves economically, and reacted badly to anyone who disrespected him including slaves who ran away. Thus, Washington was not thrilled when Franklin sent a petition to the first Congressional session of the new United States, one of several that asked the government to restrict the slave trade, and even ban slavery altogether. The protections in the Constitution for slavery had been a hard-fought compromise, and President Washington didn’t want the country torn apart again. (Congress kicked the can down the timeline to 1808, the first time allowed under the Constitution for restriction of the slave trade.) George Washington freed his own slaves in his will…to take effect after the death of his wife. Martha Washington, realizing that this was an open invitation to kill her, freed them early, but not her own slaves. Anti-slavery people took this as a sign that Washington had meant for slavery to end altogether at some point, while pro-slavery people saw it as just a nice private gesture that did not set a precedent for themselves. There’s a center section of color pictures, extensive endnotes, and a full index. Because the focus is on the connection between the two men and where their interests coincided and diverged, other portions of their lives get much less focus. So while I do recommend this well-researched book to the student of American history, you’ll also want to read individual biographies of those involved to get a fuller picture.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “Franklin and Washington: the founding partnership,” by Edward J. Larson (William Morrow, 2020). For much of this book I was not impressed: Franklin and Washington spent a lot of time not knowing or later not being in contact with one another; the linkage between them seemed forced. But eventually I saw the light: Larson is saying that the two of them---not just Washington---were the essential men for the creation of the United States. This is a combination of short but astute biographies, descr “Franklin and Washington: the founding partnership,” by Edward J. Larson (William Morrow, 2020). For much of this book I was not impressed: Franklin and Washington spent a lot of time not knowing or later not being in contact with one another; the linkage between them seemed forced. But eventually I saw the light: Larson is saying that the two of them---not just Washington---were the essential men for the creation of the United States. This is a combination of short but astute biographies, describing each of their lives and how they rose. Franklin was almost by definition the self-made man. After the apprenticeship with his brother and his elopement to Philadelphia, he built his successful printing business, gained notice as a writer, was chosen for increasingly important posts in Pennsylvania, and worked constantly as a scientist and inventor. He earned enough money that he was able to retire from business in his early 40s and devote his life to philosophy, government, and discovery. He was famous. Washington came from landed gentry and married very well. But as a youth he was ambitious and bold, commanding an expedition to the Forks of the Ohio (eventually Pittsburgh), where he attacked a French mission---but later was outmaneuvered and forced to surrender to French and Indian forces, signing a letter in French that he did not understand that later proved to be quite embarrassing. But he published his journals and began making a name for himself as a heroic young Virginian. His goal was to become a commissioned British officer, but learned through bitter experience that the British considered the colonials a contemptible force. He served in Braddock’s expedition to punish the French, and warned the general that he did not know how to fight in American forests. When Braddock’s force was ultimately defeated, it was Washington who organized the successful retreat. Now he became more famous. Each of the two men gradually understood that the British would not treat the colonists as equals. They both tried to prevent the conflict. Franklin was sent to England to plead the colonists’ cause, and was greeted and seen as an important diplomat. But he too was ultimately humiliated, by his treatment in Parliament. As the years passed the two men corresponded, and occasionally met. Each knew the other as an important figure, first in the drive for independence, then during the war (Washington eventually learning generalship, Franklin successfully gaining financial and military support from the French), and then in the creation of the Constitution---both wanted a strong central government, not just a collection of states. They were never great friends, but better perhaps they were allies in the important work of creating the United States. A quick read, with some good color plates. https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Phi Beta Kappa Authors

    Edward J. Larson ΦBK, Williams College, 1974 Author From the publisher: Theirs was a three-decade-long bond that, more than any other pairing, would forge the United States. Vastly different men, Benjamin Franklin—an abolitionist freethinker from the urban north—and George Washington—a slavehold­ing general from the agrarian south—were the indispensable authors of American independence and the two key partners in the attempt to craft a more perfect union at the Constitutional Convention, held in Fr Edward J. Larson ΦBK, Williams College, 1974 Author From the publisher: Theirs was a three-decade-long bond that, more than any other pairing, would forge the United States. Vastly different men, Benjamin Franklin—an abolitionist freethinker from the urban north—and George Washington—a slavehold­ing general from the agrarian south—were the indispensable authors of American independence and the two key partners in the attempt to craft a more perfect union at the Constitutional Convention, held in Franklin’s Philadelphia and presided over by Washington. And yet their teamwork has been little remarked upon in the centuries since. Illuminating Franklin and Washington’s relationship with striking new detail and energy, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson shows that theirs was truly an intimate working friendship that amplified the talents of each for collective advancement of the American project. During the French and Indian War, Franklin supplied the wagons for General Edward Braddock’s ill-fated assault on Fort Duquesne, and Washington buried the general’s body under the dirt road traveled by those retreating wagons. After long sup­porting British rule, both became key early proponents of inde­pendence. Rekindled during the Second Continental Congress in 1775, their friendship gained historical significance during the American Revolution, when Franklin led America’s diplomatic mission in Europe (securing money and an alliance with France) and Washington commanded the Continental Army. Victory required both of these efforts to succeed, and success, in turn, required their mutual coordination and cooperation. In the 1780s, the two sought to strengthen the union, leading to the framing and ratification of the Constitution, the founding document that bears their stamp. Franklin and Washington—the two most revered figures in the early republic—staked their lives and fortunes on the American experiment in liberty and were committed to its preservation. Today the United States is the world’s great super­power, and yet we also wrestle with the government Franklin and Washington created more than two centuries ago—the power of the executive branch, the principle of checks and balances, the electoral college—as well as the wounds of their compromise over slavery. Now, as the founding institutions appear under new stress, it is time to understand their origins through the fresh lens of Larson’s Franklin & Washington, a major addition to the literature of the founding era.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    In this examination of the decades-long relationship between Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, Larson shows the depth of agreement on most subjects, and the deep esteem each held for the other, even though they went years between seeing each other in person. Both held crucial roles in the Revolutionary War, Washington as commander, Franklin in Paris negotiating for essential support from King Louis XVI; when combined, the British surrender at Yorktown was all but certain. Despite their cl In this examination of the decades-long relationship between Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, Larson shows the depth of agreement on most subjects, and the deep esteem each held for the other, even though they went years between seeing each other in person. Both held crucial roles in the Revolutionary War, Washington as commander, Franklin in Paris negotiating for essential support from King Louis XVI; when combined, the British surrender at Yorktown was all but certain. Despite their close agreement on drafting the new nation's Constitution, they remained on different poles on the issue of slavery, Franklin an early convert to the cause of abolition, Washington determined to continue ownership of hundreds of slaves until many years after his death. While much of the material will be familiar to students of the Revolution, Larson brings a fresh look at the importance of these two authors of our nation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    This is my third dual biography in roughly the last year and a half. I have found that dual biographies are a format I greatly enjoy, but this one felt a little clunky at times. Generally covering a time period between their first connection in the French and Indian War up through their deaths, I still learned a good deal about Franklin in this book), and I'm curious to read more about him. (The Chernow "Washington" book is going to be a tough one to beat to teach me anything new about Washingto This is my third dual biography in roughly the last year and a half. I have found that dual biographies are a format I greatly enjoy, but this one felt a little clunky at times. Generally covering a time period between their first connection in the French and Indian War up through their deaths, I still learned a good deal about Franklin in this book), and I'm curious to read more about him. (The Chernow "Washington" book is going to be a tough one to beat to teach me anything new about Washington.) It was also refreshing to see most of the sources used were primary sources rather than other authors' works (except I get the feeling this author has read every Ellis book that has been published to date). :-P It was a super fast read and gave a unique comparison of these two almost mythological founding fathers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike Walter

    Quick and Easy Recap of Two Amazing Lives This was an interesting book for me to read. After overcoming my embarrassment at how little I knew about either of their lives, I really enjoyed this and have a better understanding of both men. And I respect that Larson not only didn’t avoid the topic of slavery but confronted it head on. Indeed it is the ultimate dilemma, how a nation founded on liberty and justice for all could allow for slavery and codify it directly into its constitution. Larson spe Quick and Easy Recap of Two Amazing Lives This was an interesting book for me to read. After overcoming my embarrassment at how little I knew about either of their lives, I really enjoyed this and have a better understanding of both men. And I respect that Larson not only didn’t avoid the topic of slavery but confronted it head on. Indeed it is the ultimate dilemma, how a nation founded on liberty and justice for all could allow for slavery and codify it directly into its constitution. Larson spends more than enough time and space on this issue and it’s clearly the great difference between Franklin and Washington (with the former being an outspoken abolitionist while our first president was a ruthless slave owner.) If you want a quick and easy recap of the birth of our nation I recommend this book highly.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

    This book explores the relationship between Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, the two founding fathers who loom over the rest. This book can be read as two brief, intertwining biographies, but where it really shines is in its comparison between these two figures. Each Franklin and Washington are the subjects of their own biographies (hundreds of them), but looking at the two men together brings something new to each. They certainly both worked, together and separately, to create the Unite This book explores the relationship between Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, the two founding fathers who loom over the rest. This book can be read as two brief, intertwining biographies, but where it really shines is in its comparison between these two figures. Each Franklin and Washington are the subjects of their own biographies (hundreds of them), but looking at the two men together brings something new to each. They certainly both worked, together and separately, to create the United States, and played pivotal, but different, roles. In the end, however, Franklin appears to be the wiser man, recognizing his place in history and evolving his in own thoughts, especially on slavery. Washington, though, remains an enigma, but with possibly less noble intentions behind his silence than some have supposed. Excellent reading and a thoughtful work of history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Added note: I won this uncorrected proof in a giveaway. The stated goal of the book is to demonstrate how Franklin and Washington's collaboration during and after the Revolutionary War was integral to founding the country. However, it acts more as a dual biography, and quite frankly it seemed to emphasize the two founders' desire for a stronger central government more than anything else. I can't help but suspect that this book is more a response to a growing cultural interest in federalism and re Added note: I won this uncorrected proof in a giveaway. The stated goal of the book is to demonstrate how Franklin and Washington's collaboration during and after the Revolutionary War was integral to founding the country. However, it acts more as a dual biography, and quite frankly it seemed to emphasize the two founders' desire for a stronger central government more than anything else. I can't help but suspect that this book is more a response to a growing cultural interest in federalism and restoring more power to the states. While the biographical details were interesting, the book dragged at times for me (but that might be my preference for shorter chapters). It also didn't seem to show much of Franklin and Washington's actual discussions or collaborations except for occasional excerpts of letters. Rather, it showed their individual actions and contributions during the war and the constitutional debates. Overall I don't believe the book actually accomplished its stated goal, and seemed too divided between trying to act as a biography and trying to highlight the constitutional debates to be effective.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Hogan

    Finished Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward J Larson. This book fills in a number of gaps in my historical knowledge of our country’s origins: specifically life in America in the 18th century prior to the revolution, the uniqueness of Franklin as a scientist, philosopher, politician, governor and more, the geopolitical aspects of the English French relationship in the 18th century America, the uncertainty in America from the victory at Yorktown until Washington became Pres Finished Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward J Larson. This book fills in a number of gaps in my historical knowledge of our country’s origins: specifically life in America in the 18th century prior to the revolution, the uniqueness of Franklin as a scientist, philosopher, politician, governor and more, the geopolitical aspects of the English French relationship in the 18th century America, the uncertainty in America from the victory at Yorktown until Washington became President, the looming slavery issue and much more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Larson groups two founding fathers together in an unusual combination, Franklin and Washington. Both would become larger than life. They had simllar outlooks and convictions about the burgeoning republic. The best chapter is about the constitutional convention. However, most of the information Larson provided in the book lacks originality. Most of it has been covered in other biographies of the two. Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the advance copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I really loved this book. It covered over 30 years of their friendship. I loved the part where Franklin invented some sort of chair that had a pedal on it that once it was pumped a fan would go around. Once Washington saw it he wanted one so Franklin made one for him. The book has all kinds of interesting things in it and well worth the read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    Great stories about the lives of Franklin and Washington. I wish history was taught like this in high school! I was not familiar with many of the events described in the book and ended up reading a lot more about it later. The book is fairly short and I found the author to sometimes present a partial view. Overall it provides many accurate historical details.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Drew Thomson

    Benjamin Franklin and George Washington had a three-decade-long bond, partnership, and friendship that, "more than any other pairing, would forge the United States." I had never realized w how their close friendship lasted that long. This book shows why they were the two most honored men in the early republic. It was a real treat for me to read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Steele

    A very good look at Franklin and Washington. But I think that the case could be made that all of the Founders were partners in one way or another. The book also provides a good look at slavery in colonial America and how it really was a white man's world. Just like today. goodreads winner

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    I love historical books and this did not disappoint me. I learned many interesting facts about both men and the Revolutionary War. It took me some time to get through it because there was a lot to absorb.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin Brown

    Honestly, I am not a huge history buff and wasn't sure what I was getting into, but this was not only educational, it was interesting as well. Definitely worth reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Turner

    Enjoyed this look into the life and times of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Fascinating to see the overlap between Franklin and Washington, as they aren't usually paired together. Didn't feel as intellectually hard-hitting as Larson's previous work, but an enjoyable read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Well written and concise account of the in-person and philosophical meetings, overlaps, and disagreements between Franklin and Washington. Nicely done.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    A timely and well written reminder that Trump is exactly what the founders foresaw/feared during the writing, compromising, and ratification phases of our Constitution. "A republic, if you can keep it." Indeed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

    A good read, but nothing really groundbreaking. The lives of these two men are certainly interesting and the places where their lives cross are significant. Would recommend for anyone with a vague knowledge of the founders that would like to know more. Would be old news for a historian of the period.

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