We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR

The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin

Lorraine Smith Pangle

Publication Year: 2007

The most famous man of his age, Benjamin Franklin was an individual of many talents and accomplishments. He invented the wood-burning stove and the lightning rod, he wrote Poor Richard's Almanac and The Way to Wealth, and he traveled the world as a diplomat. But it was in politics that Franklin made his greatest impact. Franklin’s political writings are full of fascinating reflections on human nature, on the character of good leadership, and on why government is such a messy and problematic business. Drawing together threads in Franklin's writings, Lorraine Smith Pangle illuminates his thoughts on citizenship, federalism, constitutional government, the role of civil associations, and religious freedom. Of the American Founders, Franklin had an unrivaled understanding of the individual human soul. At the heart of his political vision is a view of democratic citizenship, a rich understanding of the qualities of the heart and mind necessary to support liberty and sustain happiness. This concise introduction reflects Franklin's valuable insight into political issues that continue to be relevant today.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (56.8 KB)
 

CONTENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.7 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more

NOTE ON SOURCES

pdf iconDownload PDF (53.7 KB)
pp. ix-

All references to Franklin’s Autobiography are to the Leonard Labaree edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964). Unless otherwise noted, all other citations from Franklin’s writings are to The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Leonard W. Labaree et al. The digital edition, sponsored by the American...

read more

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.9 KB)
pp. xi-

I had the good fortune to be introduced to Ben Franklin in a fine seminar given many years ago at the University of Chicago by Ralph Lerner and Amy Kass. The idea for this book arose from a Liberty Fund conference on Franklin organized more recently by Michael Zuckert. For their stimulating observations and...

read more

INTRODUCTION

pdf iconDownload PDF (83.6 KB)
pp. 1-14

Benjamin Franklin is and has always been the most American of Americans. He embodies the best of what we are and what we aspire to be. He is a wellspring of homespun wisdom, a selfmade man, hopeful, clever, skeptical, and wry, a fierce lover of liberty and plain dealing, thoroughly independent, and forever...

read more

CHAPTER 1. THE ECONOMIC BASIS OF LIBERTY

pdf iconDownload PDF (152.9 KB)
pp. 15-48

If Franklin stands in broad agreement with Socrates and other classical thinkers on the importance of virtue for happiness, the most arresting difference lies in the prominent place he gives to moneymaking. Classical proponents of republicanism looked askance at commerce and the profit motive. Many of them...

read more

CHAPTER 2. THE VIRTUOUS CITIZEN

pdf iconDownload PDF (169.1 KB)
pp. 49-90

Franklin thought long and deeply about the virtues needed for self-government and for private happiness. He began by reflecting upon the qualities he himself needed to develop in order to prosper; soon he was working out a systematic program of moral improvement for himself and launching an informal pro-...

read more

CHAPTER 3. PHILANTHROPY AND CIVIL ASSOCIATIONS

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.0 KB)
pp. 91-126

Franklin’s advocacy of virtue begins with qualities needed for individual happiness, but it always aims at a broader social good. Franklin shares with his early modern predecessors an insistence on the convergence of private and public interests in a well-ordered polity, but he places less emphasis than they on the...

read more

CHAPTER 4. THOUGHTS ON GOVERNMENT

pdf iconDownload PDF (222.2 KB)
pp. 127-184

We have now examined Franklin’s reflections on the economic and moral foundations of liberty and the most fundamental civic expressions of that liberty in free associations, which in turn teach the skills necessary for self-government. In doing so, we have largely followed the progression of Franklin’s own interests...

read more

CHAPTER 5. THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS

pdf iconDownload PDF (179.2 KB)
pp. 185-223

Franklin’s political project rested on a faith in the power of reason to grasp moral truths and to guide human society. This man who, in Turgot’s famous phrase, snatched lightning bolts from heaven and scepters from tyrants was confident that people could live more happily when not overawed, either by hereditary...

NOTES

pdf iconDownload PDF (162.3 KB)
pp. 225-261

RECOMMENDED READINGS

pdf iconDownload PDF (53.7 KB)
pp. 263-

INDEX

pdf iconDownload PDF (909.5 KB)
pp. 265-277


E-ISBN-13: 9780801896163
E-ISBN-10: 0801896169
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801886669
Print-ISBN-10: 080188666X

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: The Political Philosophy of the American Founders
Series Editor Byline: Garrett Ward Sheldon, Series Editor