Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

Edward Fisher (1722–1785), after Mason Chamberlin
Mezzotint, 1763

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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It was Benjamin Franklin, then a colonial agent in London, who paved the way for Paine’s settlement in Philadelphia. Franklin recommended him in 1774 as “an ingenious, worthy young man” who might be put in the way of obtaining employment to tide him over “till he can make acquaintance and obtain a knowledge of the country.”

Eleven years later, Paine expressed the hope that Franklin, with whom he shared scientific as well as political interests, had no regrets about welcoming him. “Be assured my dear friend,” Franklin replied, “that instead of repenting that I was your introducer in America I value myself on the share I had in procuring for it the acquisition of so useful and valuable [a] citizen.”

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