The Loyal Son
The dramatic story of a founding father, his illegitimate son, and the tragedy of their conflict during the American Revolution—from the acclaimed author of The LincolnsBen Franklin is the most lovable of America’s founding fathers. His wit, his charm, his inventiveness—even his grandfatherly appearance—are legendary. But this image obscures the scandals that dogged him throughout his life. In The Loyal Son, award-winning historian Daniel Mark Epstein throws the spotlight on one of the darker episodes in Franklin’s biography: his complex and confounding relationship with his illegitimate son William.When he was twenty-four, Franklin fathered a child with a woman who was not his wife. He adopted the boy, raised him, and educated him to be his aide. Ben and William became inseparable. After the famous kite-in-a-thunderstorm experiment, it was William who proved that the electrical charge in a lightning bolt travels from the ground up, not from the clouds down. On a diplomatic mission to London, it was William who charmed London society. He was invited to walk in the procession of the coronation of George III; Ben was not.The outbreak of the American Revolution caused a devastating split between father and son. By then, William was Royal Governor of New Jersey, while Ben was one of the foremost champions of American independence. In 1776, the Continental Congress imprisoned William for treason. George Washington made efforts to win William’s release, while his father, to the world’s astonishment, appeared to have abandoned him to his fate.A fresh take on the combustible politics of the age of independence, The Loyal Son is a gripping account of how the agony of the American Revolution devastated one of America’s most distinguished families. Like Nathaniel Philbrick and David McCullough, Epstein is a storyteller first and foremost, a historian who weaves together fascinating incidents discovered in long-neglected documents to draw us into the private world of the men and women who made America.

The Loyal Son Details

TitleThe Loyal Son
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseMay 30th, 2017
PublisherBallantine Books
ISBN0345544218
ISBN-139780345544216
Number of pages464 pages
Rating
GenreHistory, Biography, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, War

The Loyal Son Review

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    May 30, 2017
    Many thanks to Daniel Mark Epstein, Ballantine Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.The book begins with a fictionalized account of Benjamin Franklin traveling home with his infant son born out of wedlock. Although it is in no way based in fact, it is a beautiful story, and I immediately wanted this to be developed into its own book. It has such promise. War is what faces the colonies during the 1740s with the French and Indians. This infant son Many thanks to Daniel Mark Epstein, Ballantine Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.The book begins with a fictionalized account of Benjamin Franklin traveling home with his infant son born out of wedlock. Although it is in no way based in fact, it is a beautiful story, and I immediately wanted this to be developed into its own book. It has such promise. War is what faces the colonies during the 1740s with the French and Indians. This infant son whom Benjamin and his common-law wife reared fought bravely at the same time Benjamin retired from publishing. William, like his father, was a bit of a ladies man, and they were both quite popular when they were sent to England as representatives of the Assembly. It was at this time that Benjamin began an accounting of monies owed to him by William that would until the end of his life. Soon it became apparent that William was a Loyalist and Benjamin was a Patriot, a difference of opinion that would cast a shadow on their relationship for the rest of their lives. One of the few times anyone could swear to hear Benjamin argue was with his son over his loyalties. Benjamin was for revolution and colonists' rights; William believed that King's rule was in the right. William would be " the last royal governor conducting the king's business in America." He soon became quite unpopular. Regardless of the role Benjamin played during the American revolution, which included postmaster general, scientist, and spymaster, it had no effect on how William was viewed or treated. He was a Tory and therefore, the enemy. He was a disgrace. William's son, Temple, also born out of wedlock, often felt caught in the middle of these two enigmatic men; he loved his father, but he was ruled by his grandfather and hopelessly spoiled by him. (Temple would continue the family tradition and also father an illegitimate child.) Epstein does an excellent job of bringing to light the story of a family torn apart by war. These two strong-willed men would never reunite although the love for one another was never in question. Personality traits come to the surface. I learned quite a bit about one of our nation's founding fathers. Excellent piece of work!
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  • Bob H
    April 21, 2017
    This is an important and well-researched new biography, two biographies really, one of William Franklin, royal governor of New Jersey during the Revolution, and of his famous father, Benjamin. The book follows William's life, from the 1760s on, as he rose in colonial society, and as Franklin would become more and more involved in the revolutionary movement. The war between Loyalist and Continental would divide father and son, and each would play a major role on their respective sides, William as This is an important and well-researched new biography, two biographies really, one of William Franklin, royal governor of New Jersey during the Revolution, and of his famous father, Benjamin. The book follows William's life, from the 1760s on, as he rose in colonial society, and as Franklin would become more and more involved in the revolutionary movement. The war between Loyalist and Continental would divide father and son, and each would play a major role on their respective sides, William as "the most influential, the most revered, and probably the most powerful American loyalist," the author tells us. We learn much about William's imprisonment and mistreatment at revolutionary hands, and his continuing estrangement from his father. It's a well-told and important story of a prominent American of those times -- and a reflection on his father Benjamin as well.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    May 19, 2017
    The Loyal Son is a revealing, thorough look at the complicated relationship William Franklin had with his father, Benjamin. The author did excellent research and scoured sources to provide the plentiful material. It was almost as fun to read the notes as it was the text. The Franklin family history was especially intriguing. For four generations illegitmacy was the norm. It was devastating to read in the epilogue the haphazard storage and care of Ben Franklin's letters and the unnecessary destru The Loyal Son is a revealing, thorough look at the complicated relationship William Franklin had with his father, Benjamin. The author did excellent research and scoured sources to provide the plentiful material. It was almost as fun to read the notes as it was the text. The Franklin family history was especially intriguing. For four generations illegitmacy was the norm. It was devastating to read in the epilogue the haphazard storage and care of Ben Franklin's letters and the unnecessary destruction of some of those precious missives. Epstein's book adds to the canon of Franklin historiography.
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  • Michael
    May 17, 2017
    Excellent read! Enjoyed from start to finish. Learned so much I did not know. The author presented everything so well it made for very entertaining reading. The author obviously did a great job of research. I highly recommend this book. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.
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