Not Your Usual Founding Father by Benjamin Franklin and Edmund S. Morgan

525b9f14824d36e-261x361.jpg Author Benjamin Franklin and Edmund S. Morgan
Isbn 300113943
File size 1MB
Year 2006
Pages 320
Language English
File format PDF
Category culture


Not your usual founding father. [To view this image, refer to the print version of this title.] Not your usual founding father. Selected Readings from Benjamin Franklin Edited by Edmund S. Morgan Yale university press, new haven and london. Copyright ∫ 2006 by Yale University. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Designed by Nancy Ovedovitz and set in Monotype Fournier by Keystone Typesetting, Inc. and printed in the United States of America by R. R. Donnelley & Sons. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Franklin, Benjamin, 1706–1790. Not your usual founding father : selected readings from Benjamin Franklin / edited by Edmund S. Morgan. p. cm. Includes index. isbn-13: 978-0-300-11394-5 (alk. paper) isbn-10: 0-300-11394-3 (alk. paper) 1. Franklin, Benjamin, 1706–1790—Archives. 2. Franklin, Benjamin, 1706–1790—Correspondence. 3. Franklin, Benjamin, 1706–1790—Philosophy. 4. United States—Politics and government—To 1775—Sources. 5. United States—Politics and government—1775–1783—Sources. 6. United States— Politics and government—1783–1789—Sources. 7. United States—Social life and customs—18th century—Sources. 8. Statesmen—United States—Archives. I. Morgan, Edmund Sears. II. Title. e302.f82 2006 973.3—dc22 2006045706 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 frontispiece: Jean-Antoine Houdon, Portrait bust of Benjamin Franklin (detail), 1779 To Nan Elizabeth Norene Contents. Preface xi part i The Man 1 1 The Young Man and the Old Man 5 Journal of a Voyage, 1726 To George Whately, 1785 2 Friendship and Flirtation 25 Rules for Making Oneself a Disagreeable Companion, 1750 To Catharine Ray, 1755 To Mary Stevenson, 1767 To Anna Mordaunt Shipley, 1771 To Madame Brillon, 1778 Abigail Adams on Madame Helvétius, 1784 To Emma Thompson, 1777 3 The Uses of Laughter 45 The Speech of Miss Polly Baker, 1747 Leaping Whales, 1765 Remarks Concerning the Savages of North-America, ca. 1783 4 Religion 58 To Josiah and Abiah Franklin, 1738 Jane Mecom, 1758 part ii To Joseph Huey, 1753 To Nature Observed 67 5 Sickness and Health 71 On the Benefits of Moist Fresh Air, 1773 On Fresh Air, 1785 The Open Window: From the Autobiography of John Adams, 1776 To Benjamin Vaughan, 1786 Mesmerism, 1784 [viii] contents 6 Wind, Weather, and Air 79 To Jared Eliot, 1750 To Peter Collinson, 1755 To Edward Nairne, 1780–83 To James Bowdoin, 1758 To Sir Joseph Banks, 1783 7 Ships and the Sea 96 On the Motion of Vessels, 1784–85 Advice for Travelers, 1784–85 The Gulf Stream, 1784–85 8 Electric Fire 112 Note on the Similarities Between Electricity and Lightning, 1749 Experiment to Determine Whether the Clouds That Contain Lightning Are Electrified, 1750 Joseph Priestley’s Account of Franklin’s Kite Experiment, 1752 How to Secure Houses, &c. from Lightning, 1753 Of Lightning, and the Method . . . of Securing Buildings and Persons from Its Mischievous E√ects, 1767 To Peter Collinson, 1753 9 Geology and Cosmology 132 To the Abbé Soulavie, 1782 Loose Thoughts on a Universal Fluid, &c., 1784–88 pa rt i i i A Continental Vision 141 10 The Colonies and the Empire 143 On Transported Felons, 1751 Felons and Rattlesnakes, 1751 Thoughts on Immigrants, 1751 Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, 1751 11 Ethnic Pride and Prejudice 158 Indians and Germans, 1753 To Joshua Babcock, 1772 To John Waring, 1763 The Speech of Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, 1790 12 Join or Die 170 To James Parker, 1751 The Albany Plan of Union, 1754 The Interest of Great Britain Considered [Canada Pamphlet], 1760 contents [ix] 13 The Vision Challenged 185 To Peter Collinson, 1764 To William Franklin, 1765 Peace Is Sought by War, 1766 Franklin’s Examination Before the Committee of the House of Commons, 1766 14 The Empire at Risk 199 To David Hall, 1766 To William Shirley, 1754 On the Disputes with America, 1767 New Fables, 1770 To Samuel Cooper, 1770 An Edict by the King of Prussia, 1773 To Joseph Galloway, 1775 To David Hartley, 1775 part iv War, Peace, and Humanity 219 15 Independence 221 To Jonathan Shipley, 1775 To Joseph Priestley, 1775 To Admiral Lord Howe, 1776 Sketch of Propositions for a Peace, 1776 16 Poor Richard’s Diplomacy 232 Comparison of Great Britain and America as to Credit, 1777 Adams’s Diplomatic Blunders, 1780 John 17 A Huckstered Peace 242 To James Hutton, 1778 Notes for a Conversation with Richard Oswald, 1782 Proposals for Diminishing the Occasions and Mischiefs of War, 1782 Thoughts on Privateering, 1782 Thoughts Concerning the Sugar Colonies, 1782 To William Strahan, 1784 The Costs of War, 1787 18 The Pretensions of Wealth 254 Thoughts on the House of Lords, 1775 Convention Speech on Salaries, 1787 Property Rights and Human Rights, 1785 The Moral Obligation of Taxes, 1783 Queries and Remarks on ‘‘Hints for the Members of the Pennsylvania Convention,’’ 1789 19 America 271 Arthur Lee’s Conversation with Franklin About the Miracle of the Revolution, 1777 To Sarah Bache, 1784 Information to Those [x] contents Who Would Remove to America, 1784 the Constitution, 1787 Chronology 289 Credits 291 Index 297 Speech in the Convention on Preface. B enjamin Franklin. The name inevitably conveys—it once did to me, anyhow—a benevolent, stu√y old gentleman, complacently mouthing admonitions to diligence and thrift. When you find, instead, a man who challenges your own stu≈ness, you wonder where that image came from. I think it may have started with the Autobiography, begun as a letter addressed to his pretty stu√y grown son. The Autobiography is the man’s re-creation of himself, undertaken when he was sixty-five years old, and written with a practiced literary skill in a paternal voice. It is worth study in itself as a work of art and for the unique historical information contained in it, but it can also screen the man himself from us. The man himself is a puzzle and a prize. He fascinated people at the time and continues to fascinate many of us today. Why? I think because of his combination of common sense and uncommon ideas, of the prosaic and the poetic, plebeian and patrician, expected and unexpected. I shall not attempt to exhibit everything that Franklin did or thought. Instead, I will try first to meet him as an ordinary, gregarious, good-natured human being, welcomed everywhere for a chat, a joke, a drink, a song, an adventure. The man we will meet is not the precocious youth of the Autobiography. We will skip that and cut to the man in his full powers. Apart from a tantalizing glimpse of him as he saw himself at twenty in a unique youthful journal, the earliest single item in this reader is a letter to his parents when he was already thirty-two. The choice is partly a necessity. Franklin’s surviving papers will fill forty-seven volumes in the complete edition under way. Only the first two volumes and half of the third were needed for [ xi ] [ x i i ] p r e fac e everything he wrote in the first half of his long life (eighty-four years). It was what he did in the second half that mattered, after he had left his business career behind. He was in his forties when he performed the electrical experiments and observations that made him famous throughout the world, in his forties when he dedicated himself to a public career that would last for the rest of his life. He was seventy when he helped write the Declaration of Independence, seventy-six when he signed the peace treaty with England, eighty-one when he helped draft the Constitution of the United States. He was the only founding father to sign all three of these documents. But we should note that none of them was quite what he had wanted it to be. Indeed he seldom got his way in the public measures he helped to bring about. He was a great proponent of the federal union that now guides us, but not its architect—he would have preferred something a little di√erent. In 1754 he proposed a plan of union for England’s North American colonies. It was accepted by a congress of representatives but then rejected by all the colonies. In 1775, at the Continental Congress, he proposed articles of confederation for a continental union. The Congress declined to consider them and later adopted a much weaker set with provisions Franklin had specifically opposed. In 1776, after helping draft the Declaration of Independence, he argued for the United States to defend itself without any foreign assistance. Instead, the Congress sent him to France—to get foreign assistance, which he did very successfully. In 1782, along with John Adams and John Jay, he negotiated the treaty with Great Britain that ended the war, but the treaty contained none of the articles to benefit mankind and his country that he would most have liked to see in it. In 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention, but the convention rejected the provisions he advocated. In 1776 he had presided at the drafting of the Pennsylvania state constitution, which included unique democratic provisions that he cherished. But as he lay dying in 1790 his fellow Pennsylvanians gave up his constitution for a more conservative one, with provisions to which he had written strenuous objections. Franklin’s willingness to suppress his own wishes in order to carry out what other people wanted tells us something about him, something that will become more comprehensible as we get to know him. This was not p r e fac e [ x i i i ] your usual founding father, and this reader is not intended to show his achievements as a founder or even as a father. It is directed at the man and what he thought it meant to be a man, a human being: what he made of the natural world he found around him, how he dealt with the joys and sorrows, the puzzles and problems that the company of other human beings brought him, and, more particularly, how he responded to the opportunities and responsibilities that being an American presented to him. Franklin had a well-honed talent for speaking clearly. Even in writing about complex issues in complex situations, he could cut to the quick and make his point to the most casual reader. So you can read the selections at random if you wish. Each will make sense by itself. But I have arranged them in a sequence, not always chronological, that I believe will exhibit the man as he developed, first as a human being, then as a deservedly renowned scientific thinker, and finally as a visionary striver for a better world. To this end I have divided the selections into four parts. Part I is aimed at getting to know the man as others in his time knew him, to find out what it would have been like to spend time with him and why it would have been such good fun. We want to meet him on equal terms, as he met everyone, before looking at what makes him worth remembering today. Part II is devoted to a characteristic that distinguished him from most of the rest of us then and now: an intellectual curiosity that challenged him to make sense out of things that others took for granted. His ability to ask questions and look for answers made him world famous in his time because of what he found out about electricity. His questions and answers about other things that puzzled him did not have as far-reaching results but show us the man’s restless mind, continually challenged by the wonders of everyday life. The last two parts of the reader may strike some as controversial. They are devoted to what I believe was the driving force in Franklin’s public career. Sometime in his forties he decided on a life of public service. At the same time, I believe, he decided that the public he should serve was more than his neighborhood or city or province but something larger: an America that was not yet what we would call a nation but would become one in the not very distant future. In 1751 the idea, or vision as I prefer to say, came to him of America as part of the British Empire but destined to be the [ x i v ] p r e fac e foundation and stronghold of a new incarnation of that empire. For the rest of his life, I believe, that vision guided his public career. Part III of the reader is taken up with his campaign to persuade the existing leaders of the empire to recognize Americans for what they were and what they would be. By 1776 the unwillingness of the British to recognize facts meant that Franklin’s e√orts would now be directed toward enabling Americans to make the most of their future by themselves. Part IV follows those e√orts. Here as elsewhere in the volume, the focus, the principle of selection from his papers, is to show the man, what he wanted rather than what he got, what his America could have been rather than what it became, but also to show his satisfaction with what he and his fellow founders did, however short it fell from what he would have wished. In selecting the readings and in my introduction to them I have benefited more than I can say from the assistance and collaboration of others. From the beginning Marie Morgan has worked with me, and we have exchanged thoughts so often that the book is as much hers as mine. In choosing the selections I had the advantage of the cd-rom of the entire body of Franklin’s papers, published and unpublished, prepared by the Packard Humanities Institute. The ability to call up any document instantly by author, recipient, date, or subject greatly facilitated making choices. The cd-rom has now been placed online at The actual text of each document printed here, however, has been taken directly either from one of the thirty-eight volumes of the Papers now in print or from the original manuscript or photocopy of those not yet in print. Ellen Cohn, as editor of the definitive Papers of Benjamin Franklin, gave her expert advice and supervised the transcriptions from the originals. Lauren Shapiro and Christopher Rogers at Yale University Press made valuable suggestions about format, and Eleanor Goldberg gave valuable assistance in obtaining the illustrations. Susan Laity, in editing the final manuscript as it went to the printer, has given the book a stylistic organization, accessibility, and coherence it could not otherwise have achieved. And Nancy Ovedovitz fitted the book with a typographical design worthy of the man it celebrates. part i I The man. n the Autobiography Franklin told his son and the world what he wanted them to think about him. Some years before he wrote it, he said in one of the almanacs he published in Philadelphia, ‘‘Let all men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly.’’ I think he followed that injunction in the Autobiography. In his other writings, he seldom talks about himself at all, but we can catch him unawares. We can discover him in what he did talk about, in what he said and how he said it on whatever was engaging him at the moment—what struck him as good or bad, funny or foolish, important or silly. In the rest of the reader we will follow him as a major player in pursuit of what he and his contemporaries considered important at di√erent times in his life. In this part we try to catch him in the more mundane, everyday activities, thoughts, and relationships that occupy all of us. First, a word about what is conspicuously missing here: his role as a husband and father. One reason for the omission is that his surviving papers tell us little about the marriage beyond the small details of domestic life. In 1730 Franklin married Deborah Read, a young Philadelphia widow, and for the next twenty-seven years they lived together and had few occasions to exchange letters. From the sparse evidence it appears that they were happy together. It tells us something about both of them that he had an illegitimate son, William, born shortly before their marriage—he never [1] [2] the man revealed who the mother was—and that Deborah ungrudgingly, though perhaps unhappily, took the boy into the family. Franklin and Deborah had two children of their own, a boy, Francis, and a girl, Sarah (Sally). Franklin seems to have been devoted to all of them. He was deeply grieved when Francis died at the age of four. Thereafter Franklin fastened his a√ections on William, took him on his mission to London in 1757, and readily forgave him when he had an illegitimate son of his own, William Temple Franklin. Franklin used his influence to get William appointed royal governor of New Jersey in 1762, a position of considerable prestige and power. But he never forgave William for clinging to the o≈ce and taking the British side when Americans repudiated royal authority and royal governors in the Revolution. William Temple, the grandson, took the American side and replaced his father as Franklin’s favorite. Franklin has gained a reputation as a womanizer because he had a son out of wedlock, because he had a penchant for ribald humor, and because he carried on extravagant public flirtations with Parisian women of wealth and high birth after Deborah’s death. The notion that he had a roving eye is supported by the fact that he was away from home for all but two of her last seventeen years. He was still in England when she died in 1774. But it is well to remember their twenty-seven years together. There is no doubt that Franklin enjoyed the company of women throughout his life, before and after his marriage. But he enjoyed all company, and he made many close friends, both male and female. He was a compulsive joiner of social clubs. He formed a famous men’s club of his own, the Junto, in 1727 for weekly talk, song, and drink, as well as serious discussion of moral and political issues with other ambitious young Philadelphians. That he was ever unfaithful to Deborah or cool or uncaring toward her, even when he was absent for long years, is not borne out by anything he said or wrote, nor did she ever cool toward him. In the flow of letters the man [3] they exchanged regularly they always addressed each other as ‘‘My Dear Child,’’ or ‘‘My dear Love,’’ and Deborah occasionally made it ‘‘My Dearest Child’’ or ‘‘My Dearest Dear Child.’’ If he su√ers from gout, as he often did, she wishes that ‘‘I was near aneuf to rube it with a lite hand’’—this in 1770, when he had been gone for six years. In the same letter: ‘‘When will it be in your power to cume home? How I long to see you but I wold not say one word that wold give you one moments trubel.’’ Franklin never complained of her failure to learn spelling or grammar, never condescended to her. The relationship, whether they were together or apart, was a trusting, a√ectionate one. That is about all the letters tell us. They are all much the same. Franklin knew that Deborah was interested in the homely, household, neighborhood things that also interested him. But in the familiar exchanges of news between them we cannot catch the man who charmed and intrigued so many people and can still charm us. I have therefore skipped all the letters to and from Deborah. It would be hard to measure what his charm had to do with his many achievements. It undoubtedly contributed to his success as a statesman and diplomat. To a sensitive eye it can be detected in virtually everything he wrote, whether in print or in private correspondence. People who write always communicate something of themselves, and Franklin is no exception. What he communicates is often hidden in the message, but it comes out more in some of his writings than in others. I have chosen the selections in Part I for the way they reveal the man, not for the message they happen to contain. 1 The young man and the old man. W e begin with some passages from the journal Franklin kept for a few weeks on a long sea voyage when he was just twenty years old. It is almost the only thing we have, from all his surviving papers, in which he talks to himself about himself. A lot of it, like most of the personal journals of the time, is about wind and weather, and I have included some of those entries just to give a sense of the whole. But other entries include thoughts about a variety of matters that are echoed in his later life. It is a good place to meet an ordinary young man who never lost his ordinary character, even when his exploits raised him to a fame shared by no other American in the intellectual world of his time, and by no other American, Washington excepted, in the political world. At the time of the journal he has already had a busy, hardworking childhood and adolescence in Boston. Apprenticed to his brother as a printer, he has run away to Philadelphia, worked there for a year, then spent a kind of junior year abroad (actually a year and a half ) in London, working as a printer and sowing a few wild oats. Now he is aboard ship, waiting for a favoring wind to carry him back to Philadelphia. Waiting for the right wind was a common experience for voyagers in the age of sail, especially on vessels that had to clear the English Channel before reaching the open sea. No one wanted to spend needless days aboard a wind-bound ship. So the captain of Franklin’s ship inched along the coast, waiting for a fair wind, and allowed his passengers to go ashore at several ports along the way. Thus Franklin’s ‘‘Albion, farewell!’’ two days after embarking was a little premature. For the next two weeks he was [5]

Author Benjamin Franklin and Edmund S. Morgan Isbn 0300113943 File size 1MB Year 2006 Pages 320 Language English File format PDF Category Culture Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare This engaging book reveals Benjamin Franklin’s human side—his tastes and habits, his enthusiasms, and his devotion to democracy and the people of the United States. Three hundred years after his birth, we may remember Franklin’s famous Autobiography, or his status as framer of the Declaration of Independence and the peace with Great Britain, or his experiments in electricity, or perhaps his sage advice on diligence and thrift. But historian Edmund S. Morgan invites us to meet the man himself, a sociable, good-natured, and extraordinary human being with boundless curiosity about the natural world and a vision of what America could be. Drawing on lifelong research in the vast Franklin archives, Morgan assembles both famous and lesser-known writings that offer insights into this founding father’s thinking. The book is organized around four major themes, each with an introduction. The first section includes journal excerpts and letters revealing Franklin’s personal tastes and habits. The second is devoted to Franklin’s inexhaustible intellectual energy and his scientific discoveries. The third and fourth chronicle his devotion to serving the people who became the United States both before and after the Revolution and to advancing his democratic vision of their future. Franklin’s humanity and genius have never seemed more real than in the pages of this appealing anthology.     Download (1MB) Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction What is La Hispanidad?: A Conversation The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Second Edition (Yale Nota Bene) Neither Liberty nor Safety Less Legible Meanings Load more posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *