The Spanish Enlightenment in the Independence of the United States: Benjamin Franklin

05/11/2006 to 05/19/2006

Coordinators: D. Gonzalo Anes y D. Eduardo Garrigues

On the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, the Spanish Royal Academy of History in collaboration with the Fundación Consejo España-Estados Unidos and the Fundacion Rafael del Pino organized a series of public lectures titled "The Spanish Enlightenment in the Independence of the United States: Benjamin Franklin". The lectures took place May 11-19, 2006 at the Royal Academy of History.

The charismatic personality of Benjamin Franklin, who in his time and in recognition of his humanistic and scientific accomplishments was awarded the position of ‘academic' at the Real Academia de la Historia in Spain, gathered a prestigious group of American, British, and Spanish historians at the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid who expounded their knowledge of a historical period, almost forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic -that of Spain's active participation in and contribution to the American cause of independence. The lectures focused on a crucial moment in European relations -where without doubt a critical role was played by the Bourbon dynasties of France and Spain- as well as in North America, where the English Colonies would seek and eventually receive crucial support from the Spanish crown, which was embroiled in its own economic and militaristic rivalry with England. At the beginning of the conflict, Spain would limit its official role to the diplomatic realm, but after war was declared, the hidden support Spain had already been giving the colonies would culminate in a series of Spanish military and naval victories which would restore many lost territories to the Crown.

Amongst the prominent historians participating in this series of lectures were:
• D. Gonzalo Anes, Director of the Real Academia de la Historia of Spain
• D. Guillermo Céspedes, Member of the Real Academia de la Historia (RIP)
• D. Miguel Ángel Ochoa Brun, Ambassador of Spain and Member of the Real Academia de la Historia
• Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus in the University of Oxford
• Dr. Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Prince of Asturias Profesor of Spanish Cultura and Civilization, Tufts University
• Dr. David J. Weber, Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History & Director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University