J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dr. Franklin’s Invitation in 1779

When Benjamin Franklin was the American minister to France, he set up a small press at his home in Passy in order to print government documents, mostly forms with blanks to fill in. Later he used the same equipment to publish humorous pamphlets for friends, a fake newspaper page for propaganda, and broadsides. His teen-aged grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache trained on the press in the early 1780s.

The earliest dated document surviving from the Passy press is this invitation to a celebration of American independence on 5 July 1779. The fourth of July fell on a Sunday that year, so Franklin scheduled his celebration for the next day. He probably invited the local American community and influential French sympathizers, but the entire invitation is in English, even the “R.S.V.P.” 

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