Franklin’s Death

A nice posting on the anniversary of Dr. Franklin’s Death here, by Scott Bomboy, editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.


Madison asked his colleagues in the House of Representatives to wear symbols of mourning for one month and they agreed.

The Senate declined. The chamber was influenced by John Adams, who disliked Franklin, as did Richard Henry Lee. The Senate also ignored tributes about Franklin sent by France. Franklin, in his lifetime, had been critical of a government that had two houses of legislature, and his grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, was a newspaper publisher openly critical of the Federalists who controlled the Senate.

Jefferson lost an argument with President George Washington for the executive branch to wear mourning symbols. Washington feared the act would set a precedent for all Founding Fathers and that it was too similar to how royalty was honored in Europe.

The first official eulogy for Franklin in the United States didn’t happen until 1791.


The 1791 Eulogy might be referring to the graduation exercises of the Philadelphia Academy, with Ye Sages, Contending in Virtue’s Fair Cause…”