The Nation: Patriot or Spy?

Benjamin Franklin a spy? The very idea seems ludicrous; one might as well posit that George Washington abandoned Long Island in a deliberate attempt to subvert the American Revolution. Yet in his new book, Code Number 72/Ben Franklin: Patriot or Spy?, Historian Cecil B. Currey raises the possibility that Franklin may not have been the wholly radiant patriot sanctified in school textbooks. Basing his case on what he describes as "previously unused papers of the British Secret Service," the author concludes that in the delicate negotiatory period of 1776-1785, when Franklin was ambassador to France, the supreme diplomat "may indeed have...

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