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Quaker Studies

Abstract

Benjamin Franklin lived in France from 1778 to 1785. He was successful in drawing the country into the American Independence war against Britain in 1778. He became the idol of future French revolutionaries, and remained so even after his death in 1790. The French revolutionaries also admired American Quakers, but they mistook Benjamin Franklin for a Quaker, which he was not.

From 1786, American Quakers from Nantucket settled down in Dunkerque, in France. In February 1791, together with Jean de Marsillac, a French Quaker from Congenies, they brought a petition in favour of a non-violent revolution. But Mirabeau, who was President of the National Assembly, was a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin. He did not take the Quakers' petition seriously, and historians afterwards forgot about this message.

Benjamin Franklin indirectly originated from Nantucket through his mother Abiah Folger. He was a relative of many Nantucket Quakers who went to Dunkerque. So, the two messages brought to France during the French revolution came from Nantucket, directly or indirectly. They are complementary to each other, but the second one still remains to be discovered.

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