In Robert Lawson's novel for young readers titled Ben and Me, why did Benjamin Franklin go to England and then to France?
In Robert Lawson’s novel for young readers titled Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin and His Good Mouse Amos, Ben Franklin’s trips to England and to France are described.
Near the end of Chapter 8, Franklin explains to Amos the reasons for his trip to England:
"As you doubtless know, relations between these American Colonies and our Mother Country, England, have become very badly strained. So much so that I have chosen to go to England and lay our case before the King and Parliament: to attempt to make clear to them the justice of our grievances, to avoid the dangers of rebellion and possibility of war."
In this passage, Franklin makes clear that rebellion from England and war with that country were not outcomes the colonists desired; they merely wanted to be treated with consideration and fairness.
Amos, at first, is more than happy to accompany Ben on his mission, not only because of his personal devotion to liberty but because he has heard good things about English cheese. When he discovers, however, that Franklin has installed lightning rods on the ship heading for England, he changes his mind. Only later does he hear that Franklin’s mission to England was “a complete failure.” War with England becomes inevitable.
Later, at the beginning of Chapter 10, when the colonial armies are in need of supplies and a foreign country’s help must be sought, Amos is instrumental (according to Lawson’s book) in suggesting France as the source of assistance. Amos reminds Franklin of French pastries, French wines, and beautiful French women, and so Franklin immediately suggests to George Washington that France should be America’s ally. General Washington agrees that Franklin should go to the French court “to plead our cause.” Washington reminds Franklin that this is a “heavy responsibility.”