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UCSD Professor Discovers Important Franklin Letters

Audio

Aired 5/5/09

A UCSD political science professor's discovery of 47 letters written by, to and about Benjamin Franklin shed new light on the relationship between the British crown and colonists during the French and Indian War.

Maureen Cavanaugh: If you're ever doing a research project and you're tempted to just ignore that one last book or document that probably won't tell you anything new, remember the story of Professor Alan Houston.

While researching a book on Benjamin Franklin, Houston, a political science professor from UC San Diego, used his last day in London to make another trip to the British Library to look at one last bit of reference material he'd heard about. While he read a book of letters from the 18th Century, Professor Houston got more excited than perhaps anyone has been in the British Museum for some time. He realized he'd discovered a treasure trove of copies of letters written by and to Benjamin Franklin. Letters that no one had seen in the past 250 years.

The find is the subject of a report and essay in the April edition of the William and Mary Quarterly, a journal of early American history.

Guest

Alan Houston, professor of political science at UCSD and author of "Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement."

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