Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (The Lewis by Alan Houston

By Alan Houston

This interesting ebook explores Benjamin Franklin’s social and political inspiration. even though 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 fashionable advertisement republic, Franklin mixed summary analyses with functional proposals. Houston treats Franklin as wise, inventive, and engaged—a full of life philosopher who joined either discovered controversies and political conflicts at domestic and abroad.

 

Drawing on meticulous archival learn, 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 every one case, he indicates how Franklin recommended the development of self and society.

 

Engagingly written and richly illustrated, this booklet presents a compelling portrait of Franklin, a clean viewpoint on American identification, and an essential account of what it capacity to be practical.

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

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Commerce 41 The Politics of Money By the late 1720s, as a result of reading, conversation, and personal experience, Franklin had come to embrace the following ideas: society is grounded in mutual needs and interests, not mortal fear or Christian love; virtue is measured by actions, not intentions; character is shaped by habits, which can themselves be changed; and improvement, personal and collective, is possible. All of these ideas came together in his first pamphlet to address a major public controversy, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a PaperCurrency (1729).

To the contrary, they were expressions of existential confidence. Franklin did not doubt that improvement was possible, nor did he hesitate to suggest that the measure of improvement was utility or usefulness. These beliefs proved crucial as Franklin turned from the moral and psychological bases of cooperation to the practices and policies that governed economic exchange. commerce 41 The Politics of Money By the late 1720s, as a result of reading, conversation, and personal experience, Franklin had come to embrace the following ideas: society is grounded in mutual needs and interests, not mortal fear or Christian love; virtue is measured by actions, not intentions; character is shaped by habits, which can themselves be changed; and improvement, personal and collective, is possible.

These explorations have been made possible by modifying and extending current tools of research. For several decades, the most influential work in the history of political thought has been associated with the so-called Cambridge school of Quentin Skinner, J. G. A. Pocock, and John Dunn. The methodological and substantive differences between these authors are significant. But in classic essays of the 1960s and 1970s, each insisted that the full meaning of a text could not be captured unless it was located in a meticulously constructed historical context.

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