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Pa. man speaks from Franklin's perspective

June 28, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- "Benjamin Franklin" said Sunday that while he never set foot in Franklin County, he's thankful county leaders chose to name their home after him.

Robert Harrison spoke with words like "I" and "me" when he gave a presentation in the role of Benjamin Franklin. Harrison is portraying the county's namesake for its 225th anniversary events, like the one held at Waynesboro's historical society.

Harrison, wearing buckled shoes and carrying a cane, fielded questions on what Franklin thought when his son allied himself with England and the age differences among him and his 16 siblings.

The crowd of 40 at the Waynesboro Historical Society avoided a line of questioning that Harrison said has become familiar since April. He said he's often asked whether it's true that Franklin was an incurable womanizer.

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"I really enjoy talking with the people I meet," Harrison said of the nine events at which he's appeared.

Sunday's presentation was sponsored by the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, according to Helen Shelley, program coordinator for the historical society. The Antietam Dairy ice cream social that followed was sponsored by James Shoes and Key Insurance, she said.

Tours of the historical society's headquarters, the 1892 Oller House, preceded and followed Harrison's presentation.

Harrison, of Chambersburg, Pa., addressed not only Franklin's life, but the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and land allocations with Native Americans. Franklin obtained French gold to fund the Revolutionary War.

"We didn't have any money," he said. "We were broke."

Above all, Franklin considered himself a gentleman and diplomat, Harrison said. Franklin admired farmers and those toiling on the frontier, he said.

Franklin, who was born in 1706 as the 15th of 17 children, remained sorry that the problems with England couldn't be solved with diplomacy.

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