In the four months following the January 20, 1783, armistice that ended the War for American Independence, Franklin was remarkably energetic as he helped oversee the transition to peace and waged a multifaceted campaign to publicize the ideals of the new nation. Though political turmoil in Britain delayed negotiations for the definitive peace treaty, Franklin deftly negotiated America's first commercial treaty with a neutral nation, Sweden, which was signed in secret. He distributed his richly symbolic Libertas Americana medal, worked toward the publication of his French edition of the American state constitutions, and fielded scores of letters from people all over Europe who sought to emigrate, to establish trade connections with the United States, to become consuls, and to offer congratulations and advice.
In life, Benjamin Franklin sought to manage debt, organize credit, build capital and promote virtue. After death, he continued this work by leaving a codicil to his last will and testament, bequeathing £2,000 to Boston and Philadelphia. This study examines Franklin’s codicil and the financial history of America over the 200 years since his death.
In this engaging study of the much-loved statesman and polymath, Robert Middlekauff uncovers a little-known aspect of Benjamin Franklin's personality—his passionate anger. He reveals a fully human Franklin who led a remarkable life but nonetheless had his share of hostile relationships—political adversaries like the Penns, John Adams, and Arthur Lee—and great disappointments—the most significant being his son, William, who sided with the British. Utilizing an abundance of archival sources, Middlekauff weaves episodes in Franklin's emotional life into key moments in colonial and Revolutionary history. The result is a highly readable narrative that illuminates how historical passions can torment even the most rational and benevolent of men.
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Subcommittee on the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations
While the American Revolution officially began in Lexington, Massachusetts, in April 1775, the seeds of rebellion had been sown for decades. This work provides first-hand accounts of the period that illustrate how historical events appeared to those who lived through them.
Mostly hidden from public view, like an embarrassing family secret, scores of putative locks of George Washington’s hair are held, more than two centuries after his death, in the collections of America’s historical societies, public and academic archives, and museums. Excavating the origins of these bodily artifacts, Keith Beutler uncovers a forgotten strand of early American memory practices and emerging patriotic identity. Between 1790 and 1840, popular memory took a turn toward the physical, as exemplified by the craze for collecting locks of Washington’s hair. These new, sensory views of memory enabled African American Revolutionary War veterans, women, evangelicals, and other politically marginalized groups to enter the public square as both conveyors of these material relics of the Revolution and living relics themselves. George Washington’s Hair introduces us to a taxidermist who sought to stuff Benjamin Franklin’s body, an African American storyteller brandishing a lock of Washington’s hair, an evangelical preacher burned in effigy, and a schoolmistress who politicized patriotic memory by privileging women as its primary bearers. As Beutler recounts in vivid prose, these and other ordinary Americans successfully enlisted memory practices rooted in the physical to demand a place in the body politic, powerfully contributing to antebellum political democratization.
Benjamin Franklin is well known to most of us, yet his fundamental and wide--ranging contributions to science are still not adequately understood. Until now he has usually been incorrectly regarded as a practical inventor and tinkerer rather than a scientific thinker. He was elected to membership in the elite Royal Society because his experiments and original theory of electricity had made a science of that new subject. His popular lame came from his two lightning experiments the sentry--box experiment and the later and more famous experiment of the kite--which confirmed his theoretical speculations about the identity of electricity and provided a basis for the practical invention of the lightning rod. Franklin advanced the eighteenth-century understanding of all phenomena of electricity and provided a model for experimental science in general. I. Bernard Cohen, an eminent historian of science and the principal elucidator of Franklin's scientific work, examines his activities in fields ranging from heat to astronomy. He provides masterful accounts of the theoretical background of Franklin's science (especially his study of Newton), the experiments he performed, and their influence throughout Europe as well as the United States. Cohen emphasizes that Franklin's political and diplomatic career cannot be understood apart from his scientific activities, which established his reputation and brought him into contact with leaders of British and European society. A supplement by Samuel J. Edgerton considers Franklin's attempts to improve the design of heating stoves, another practical application that arose from theoretical interests. This volume will be valuable to all readers wanting to learn more about Franklin and to gain a deeper appreciation of the development of science in America.
“Excellent . . . deserves high praise. Mr. Taylor conveys this sprawling continental history with economy, clarity, and vividness.”—Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal The American Revolution is often portrayed as a high-minded, orderly event whose capstone, the Constitution, provided the nation its democratic framework. Alan Taylor, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, gives us a different creation story in this magisterial history. The American Revolution builds like a ground fire overspreading Britain’s colonies, fueled by local conditions and resistant to control. Emerging from the continental rivalries of European empires and their native allies, the revolution pivoted on western expansion as well as seaboard resistance to British taxes. When war erupted, Patriot crowds harassed Loyalists and nonpartisans into compliance with their cause. The war exploded in set battles like Saratoga and Yorktown and spread through continuing frontier violence. The discord smoldering within the fragile new nation called forth a movement to concentrate power through a Federal Constitution. Assuming the mantle of “We the People,” the advocates of national power ratified the new frame of government. But it was Jefferson’s expansive “empire of liberty” that carried the revolution forward, propelling white settlement and slavery west, preparing the ground for a new conflagration.
Why have so many figures throughout American history proclaimed their life stories when confronted by great political problems? The Claims of Experience provides a new theory for what makes autobiography political throughout the history of the United States and today. Across five chapters, Nolan Bennett examines the democratic challenges that encouraged a diverse cast of figures to bear their stories: Benjamin Franklin amid the revolutionary era, Frederick Douglass in the antebellum and abolitionist movements, Henry Adams in the Gilded Age and its anxieties of industrial change, Emma Goldman among the first Red Scare and state opposition to radical speech, and Whittaker Chambers amid the second Red Scare that initiated the anticommunist turn of modern conservatism. These historical figures made what Bennett calls a "claim of experience." By proclaiming their life stories, these authors took back authority over their experiences from prevailing political powers, and called to new community among their audiences. Their claims sought to restore to readers the power to remake and make meaning of their own lives. Whereas political theorists and activists have often seen autobiography to be too individualist or a mere documentary source of evidence, this theory reveals the democratic power that life narratives have offered those on the margins and in the mainstream. If they are successful, claims of experience summon new popular authority to surpass what their authors see as the injustices of prevailing American institutions and identity. Bennett shows through historical study and theorization how this renewed appreciation for the politics of life writing elevates these authors' distinct democratic visions while drawing common themes across them. This book offers both a method for understanding the politics of life narrative and a call to anticipate claims of experience as they appear today.
Social scientists have used the term "Creolization" to evoke cultural fusion and the emergence of new cultures across the globe. However, the term has been under-theorized and tends to be used as a simple synonym for "mixture" or "hybridity." In this volume, by contrast, renowned scholars give the term historical and theoretical specificity by examining the very different domains and circumstances in which the process takes place. Elucidating the concept in this way not only uncovers a remarkable history, it also re-opens the term for new theoretical use. It illuminates an ill-understood idea, explores how the term has operated and signified in different disciplines, times, and places, and indicates new areas of study for a dynamic and fascinating process.
A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work, from the origins of life on Earth to our ever-more automated present 'A fascinating exploration that challenges our basic assumptions of what work means' Yuval Noah Harari 'One of those few books that will turn your customary ways of thinking upside down' Susan Cain The work we do brings us meaning, moulds our values, determines our social status and dictates how we spend most of our time. But this wasn't always the case: for 95% of our species' history, work held a radically different importance. How, then, did work become the central organisational principle of our societies? How did it transform our bodies, our environments, our views on equality and our sense of time? And why, in a time of material abundance, are we working more than ever before?
Against the religious backdrop of pre- and postcolonial America stands the towering figure--and mind--of Benjamin Franklin. A Renaissance man in a Revolutionary time, Franklin had interests and knowledge not only in religion but in literature, philosophy, politics, publishing, history, and scientific inquiry, among many other disciplines. Kerry S. Walters examines Franklin's search for the Divine using a similar, multifaceted approach--and in so doing has created the first extended treatment of Franklin's religious thought in thirty years. Walters brings the same intellectual range and depth to the understanding of Franklin's beliefs that Franklin brought to his own quest. What emerges from this pilgrimage into the soul of one of America's greatest figures is a very human Benjamin Franklin who grew with the accumulation of knowledge to arrive at a "theistic perspectivism," which provided him with a philosophical explanation for the diversity of religious faiths--and a justification for the liberty of conscience he advocated throughout his life. Benjamin Franklin and His Gods is an original and beautifully challenging spiritual and intellectual biography. Destined to be a classic.
How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation
Author: Kariann Akemi Yokota
Publisher: Oxford University Press
What can homespun cloth, stuffed birds, quince jelly, and ginseng reveal about the formation of early American national identity? In this wide-ranging and bold new interpretation of American history and its Founding Fathers, Kariann Akemi Yokota shows that political independence from Britain fueled anxieties among the Americans about their cultural inferiority and continuing dependence on the mother country. Caught between their desire to emulate the mother country and an awareness that they lived an ocean away on the periphery of the known world, they went to great lengths to convince themselves and others of their refinement. Taking a transnational approach to American history, Yokota examines a wealth of evidence from geography, the decorative arts, intellectual history, science, and technology to underscore that the process of "unbecoming British" was not an easy one. Indeed, the new nation struggled to define itself economically, politically, and culturally in what could be called America's postcolonial period. Out of this confusion of hope and exploitation, insecurity and vision, a uniquely American identity emerged.
Benjamin Franklin is generally considered one of America's most versatile and talented statesmen, scientists, and philosophers. His achievements include publisher of Poor Richard's Almanac and many articles on political, economic, religious, philosophical and scientific subjects. He was the inventor of bifocals, the Franklin stove, lightening rod, he was one of the signers of the 'Declaration of Independence', and the founder of, what is now the University of Pennsylvania. This book presents a detailed and riveting review of Franklin's life based on excerpts from the renowned 1899 book on Franklin by Sydney George Fisher. This overview is augmented by a substantial selective bibliography, which features access through title, subject and author indexes.
A stirring chronicle of the spiritual life of a nation, Prayer in America shows how the faith of Americans—from the founding fathers to corporate tycoons, from composers to social reformers, from generals to slaves—was an essential ingredient in the formation of American culture, character, commerce, and creed. Prayer in America brings together the country’s hymns, patriotic anthems, arts, and literature as a framework for telling the story of the innermost thoughts of the people who have shaped the United States we know today. Beginning with Native Americans, Prayer in America traces the prayer lives of Quakers and Shakers, Sikhs and Muslims, Catholics and Jews, from their earliest days in the United States through the aftermath of 9/11, and the 2004 presidential election. It probes the approach to prayer by such diverse individuals as Benjamin Franklin, Elvis Presley, Frank Lloyd Wright, J. C. Penney, P. T. Barnum, Jackie Robinson, and Christopher Columbus. It includes every president of the United States as well as America’s clergy, immigrants, industrialists, miners, sports heroes, and scientists. Prayer in America shows that without prayer, the political, cultural, social, and even economic and military history of the United States would be vastly different from what it is today. It engages in a thoughtful, timely examination of the modern debate over public prayer and how the current approach to prayer bears deep roots in the philosophies of the country’s founding fathers, a subject which remains distinct from the debate over church and state.