The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin

Overview

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...

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Overview

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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography - Carla Mulford

Smith Pangle... Brings an impressive knowledge of philosophy and Western intellectual traditions.

Choice

This insightful and elegantly written book is a joy to read and highly recommended.

Choice

This insightful and elegantly written book is a joy to read and highly recommended.

Claremont Review of Books
A learned, wise, and well-written account... for giving readers one of the very finest introductions to this remarkable American's thought, we must thank Lorraine Pangle.

— Ralph Ketcham

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Smith Pangle... Brings an impressive knowledge of philosophy and Western intellectual traditions.

— Carla Mulford

Claremont Review of Books - Ralph Ketcham

A learned, wise, and well-written account... for giving readers one of the very finest introductions to this remarkable American's thought, we must thank Lorraine Pangle.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Lorraine Smith Pangle is an associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship and The Learning of Liberty: The Educational Ideas of the American Founders.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents


Note on Sources     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
The Earliest Franklin
Franklin, Socrates, and Modern Rationalism
The Economic Basis of Liberty     15
The Weber Critique
The Value of Work
Work, Acquisitiveness, and Nature
A Republican Political Economy
The Meaning of Leisure
The Virtuous Citizen     49
The Ethos of the Merchant
Franklin's Early Thoughts on Virtue and Vice
Franklin's Retreat from His Early Views
The Project for Moral Perfection
Humility, Pride, and Vanity
The Art of Virtue
Philanthropy and Civil Associations     91
Man as a Political Animal
Franklin and Tocqueville on Associations
Franklin's Benevolent Projects
Democratic Leadership
Thoughts on Government     127
The Albany Plan of Union
Of Proprietors and Kings
Statesmanship and Public Relations
Natural Right and Human Opinion
Representation and Federalism
Democratic Diplomacy
The Constitutional Convention
Immigration, Race, and Slavery
The Ultimate Questions     185
Enlightenment and the Adequacy of Reason
The Civic Benefits of Religion
The Defects of Christianity
Toleration and Religions Freedom
The Existence of God
Eros, Death, and Eternity
Notes     225
Recommended Readings     263
Index     265
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