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New PDF release: Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (The Lewis

By Alan Houston

ISBN-10: 0300124473

ISBN-13: 9780300124477

This interesting ebook explores Benjamin Franklin’s social and political concept. even supposing Franklin is frequently thought of “the first American,” his highbrow international used to be cosmopolitan. An lively player in eighteenth-century Atlantic debates over the trendy advertisement republic, Franklin mixed summary analyses with sensible proposals. Houston treats Franklin as clever, artistic, and engaged—a energetic philosopher who joined either discovered controversies and political conflicts at domestic and abroad.


Drawing on meticulous archival examine, Houston examines such tantalizing subject matters as exchange and trade, voluntary institutions and civic militias, inhabitants development and immigration coverage, political union and electoral associations, freedom and slavery. In each one case, he indicates how Franklin suggested the advance of self and society.


Engagingly written and richly illustrated, this booklet offers a compelling portrait of Franklin, a clean standpoint on American id, and an essential account of what it ability to be practical.

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Extra resources for Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-C)

Example text

His most profound reflections on the logic of political institutions in an extended polity were contained in his 1754 proposal for intercolonial union. Lived experiences are constituent features of Franklin’s political thought. It is essential to note, however, that “lived experiences” are not strictly “local experiences,” especially if the latter is narrowly conceived. Social practices and political institutions, not to mention memory and imagination, extend the horizons of life beyond its immediate locale.

The story of the solitary prisoner in the Bastille pointed to an important fact: our customs, habits, and beliefs are malleable. We can modify and adapt ourselves as well as change our surroundings. This was crucial to how Franklin thought about his own life, and it had profound implications for how he thought about the dynamics of commercial society. ” He had never settled on a “regular design” for his life, and as a consequence the things he did were incongruous. But now, as he returned to Philadelphia to work for Thomas Denham, he had the opportunity to begin anew.

Other motives, less absolute and more closely tied to everyday life, could be equally effective. Moral character was a matter of habit, and what Franklin needed was an art or method for securing the virtues he had and acquiring the ones he lacked. He began by distilling the many and varied lists of virtues he had encountered in his reading. There were thirteen in all: 1. Temperance. Eat not to Dullness. Drink not to Elevation. 2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.

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Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-C) by Alan Houston

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