By Robert Waite
Homes, France – Nothing better illustrates the personality gulf that separated Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Jefferson than how they spent their time in France representing a fledging United States.
Franklin expended much effort navigating the city’s drawing rooms, entertaining comely women of status with his banter and wit.
Jefferson, on the other hand, ventured far afield. Unlike Franklin, his primary focus was not the fairer sex (or at least not the Parisian fairer sex – perhaps because he was accompanied to France by Sally Hemings), but rather civil engineering.
And the French engineering feat he most admired was the Canal of Languedoc, today better known as the Canal Midi.
Constructed in the 17th Century, the canal transverses France north of the Pyrenees and unites the Mediterranean with the Atlantic.
So transfixed was Jefferson by this marvel that in May of 1787 he spent
nine days on horseback… Continue reading