The son of William Franklin, Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Temple Franklin worked as aide to his grandfather, Benjamin Franklin, when the latter served as minister to France during the American Revolution. A bonvivant, Temple received his highest public appointment as Secretary to the American delegation at the Treaty of Versailles in 1782-1783, largely through the influence of his famous grandfather, but never again attained a significant post. As Franklin's literary heir, he edited and published a three volume set of his grandfather's writings in 1817. He married his long time mistress a few months before his death in Paris in 1823.
The William Temple Franklin Papers provides a richly detailed portrait of the life of the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, and consists largely of letters received during the years that Temple served as his grandfather's aide in France, 1776-1785. Although much of the correspondence is routine, during this period, Temple received regular reports from friends and diplomatic colleagues relaying information on the American Revolution, the course of diplomatic and peace negotiations, and French public opinion on Benjamin Franklin and the new United States. The collection is also a rich resource for information on the personal lives of the Franklins, including interesting correspondence from Temple's relatives William Franklin, Elizabeth Franklin, Sarah Franklin Bache, and Jonathan Williams, and his mistress Blanchette Caillot.