The Schemes of Public Parties:
William Allen, Benjamin Franklin and The College of Philadelphia, 1756
Jefferson Berry, June 2010
In 1756 the board of directors at the Academy and College of Philadelphia fired their founder and President, Benjamin Franklin. It is an incident that has been glossed over by virtually every historian of the eighteenth century, each of the institutional histories of the University of Pennsylvania and by all of Franklin’s biographers. By intentionally omitting negative information about his demise, or at most addressing the incident superficially, history has followed Franklin’s own lead for over 250 years. In his Autobiography, Franklin leaves out all mention of his removal by the vote of his one-time friends on the school board; Franklin obfuscated the political dimension of the event and its meaning to him both personally and professionally. A tool that effectively shaped his legacy, Franklin’s Autobiography also forever marginalized the significance of Pennsylvania’s Chief Justice, William Allen, the architect of the vote and among the most powerful people in the history of colonial Pennsylvania. Scholars interested in this text are encouraged to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.