Franklin's humiliation in Britain over the Hutchinson-Oliver letters was the lowest point in his career. His carefully cultivated image was shattered. In London, at a hearing with the government, the British solicitor Alexander Wedderburn spent an hour calling Franklin a criminal. Dozens of British officials, most of whom Franklin knew, watched and snickered. They made him into America's scapegoat. Franklin sat stone-faced, refusing to show any emotion–but he was furious. Every American who wanted independence from Britain–and we should remember that even at the beginning of the war these people were a minority–had his or her own reasons for wanting it. Some knew they would benefit politically or financially. Others believed in the ideals of liberty and equality–ideals an independent America was supposed to represent. Others simply thought independence was inevitable. For
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