HE WAS THE SON OF A PATRIOT, THE SERVANT OF A KING, AND THE LAST COLONIAL GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY
William Franklin FRSE (1730-1813) Handwritten Document Signed As The Last Colonial Governor of New Jersey, "Wm. Franklin", 8 x 3.25, February 11th, 1775, by the American-born attorney, soldier, politician, and colonial administrator. He was the acknowledged illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. William Franklin was the last colonial Governor of New Jersey, and a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American Revolutionary War. (In contrast, his father Benjamin Franklin was one of the most prominent of the Patriot leaders of the American Revolution and a Founding Father of the United States.) This extremely rare document considers the passage of a bill in New Jersey the year before the start of the American Revolutionary War. In Full: "I assent to this Bill enacting the same, and order it to be enrolled." This handwritten document has a large, bold, ink signature and is in fine condition, with irregular edges and minor age toning.
William Franklin completed his law education in England, and was admitted to the bar. He and his father Benjamin Franklin became partners and confidants, working together to pursue land grants in what was then called the Northwest (now Midwest). Before they left England, the senior Franklin lobbied hard to procure his son an appointment, especially working with the Prime Minister Lord Bute. In 1763, William Franklin was appointed as the Royal Governor of New Jersey. And while in that position he secretly reported Patriot activities to London. He continued as governor until January 1776, when colonial militiamen placed him under house arrest. Owing to his father's role as a Founding Father and William's loyalty to Britain, the relationship between father and son became strained past the breaking point. When finally released in a prisoner exchange in 1778, he moved to New York City, which was still occupied by the British. Once in New York he became "the acknowledged leader of the American loyalists and organized military units to fight on the British side. The Surrender at Yorktown in October 1781 dimmed British hopes for victory, and in 1782, William Franklin went into exile in Britain, never to return. Once in London, he became a leading spokesman for the Loyalist community. He was also a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburg (FRSE). He lived in London until his death.