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Imprudent Man, An; A Life of Sir John Temple

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02/05/2003

John Temple played an important role in American and British politics for nearly forty years. A Boston-born scion of the powerful Grenville-Temple clan, in 1761 he used his family connections to secure the posts of surveyor general of customs for the northern district of America and lieutenant governor of New Hampshire, and he later served on the controversial American Board of Customs Commissioners. But at the same time he was an implacable enemy of the royal governor of Massachusetts, Francis Bernard. In 1767 Temple married Elizabeth Bowdoin, daughter of the Patriot leader James Bowdoin. In 1771 he became Surveyor General of Customs for England, but lost the post in 1774 after fighting a famous duel when accused of espionage for Benjamin Franklin. During the Revolutionary War, he suffered from divided loyalties. He served on the Carlisle Commission but was trusted by neither side. In 1785 Temple became the first British Consul General to the United States, a post he held until his death, in spite of continued controversy and, in 1796, the horsewhipping of U.S. Senator Rutherfurd of New Jersey. Presented by Neil Stout, UVM Professor Emeritus of History.

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