Franklin's experience in Britain strengthened his sense of being an American. Though he dressed simply and told jokes, he was a worldly and sophisticated person. He knew the most brilliant men of the time, people like Adam Smith and Voltaire. Yet, while in Britain, Franklin realized how little most British people, even British leaders, understood or respected Americans. He saw that Britain governed the American colonies poorly because they did not know anything about the colonies. Most of them had never been to America or even talked to an American.

Franklin had been critical of Britain for a long time, writing essays such as "Rattlesnakes for Felons" and "Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc." (both in 1751). In the first, he lambasted the British government for sending convicted felons to America, sarcastically suggesting that Americans send rattlesnakes in return. In the second, he criticized the Acts of Navigation, which restricted American trade to benefit British merchants. As a politician in the early 1750s, and an ambassador of sorts beginning it the late 1750s, he consistently and persuasively argued for American interests and American values. He had begun as a civic do-gooder in Philadelphia and was quickly becoming America's most important patriot.

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