Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire

Hardcover | July 15, 2015

byCarla J. Mulford

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Drawing from Benjamin Franklin's published and unpublished papers, including letters, notes, and marginalia, Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire examines how the early modern liberalism of Franklin's youthful intellectual life helped foster his vision of independence from Britain thatbecame his hallmark achievement. In the early chapters, Carla Mulford explores the impact of Franklin's family history - especially their difficult times during the English Civil War - on Franklin's intellectual life and his personal and political goals.The book's middle chapters show how Franklin's fascination with British imperial strategy grew from his own analyses of the financial, environmental, and commercial potential of North America. Franklin's involvement in Pennsylvania's politics led him to devise strategies for monetary stability,intercolonial trade, Indian affairs, and imperial defense that would have assisted the British Empire in its effort to take over the world. When Franklin realized that the goals of British ministers were to subordinate colonists in a system that assisted the lives of Britons in England butundermined the wellbeing of North Americans, he began to criticize the goals of British imperialism. Mulford argues that Franklin's turn away from the British Empire began in the 1750s - not the 1770s, as most historians have suggested - and occurred as a result of Franklin's perceptive analyses ofwhat the British Empire was doing not just in the American colonies but in Ireland and India.In the last chapters, Mulford reveals how Franklin ultimately grew restive, formed alliances with French intellectuals and the court of France, and condemned the actions of the British Empire and imperial politicians. As a whole, Mulford's book provides a fresh reading of a much-admired foundingfather, suggesting how Franklin's conception of the freedoms espoused in England's ages old Magna Carta could be realized in the political life of the new American nation.

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Drawing from Benjamin Franklin's published and unpublished papers, including letters, notes, and marginalia, Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire examines how the early modern liberalism of Franklin's youthful intellectual life helped foster his vision of independence from Britain thatbecame his hallmark achievement. In the early c...

Carla Mulford is Associate Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin. She is also the founding president of the Society for Early Americanists.

other books by Carla J. Mulford

Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World
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The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin
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Format:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9.21 × 6.42 × 1.3 inPublished:July 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199384193

ISBN - 13:9780199384198

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. "This obscure Family of ours was early in the Reformation": On Family Memory2. "I had such a Thirst for Knowledge": Franklin's Boston Youth3. Franklin's Imperial Imaginings: "Coined Land" and Global Goals4. Pennsylvania Politics and the Problems of Empire5. "People in the Colonies . . . better Judges": Observing Empire at Midcentury6. Franklin in London's Theatre of Empire7. Love of Country8. Rebellion to Tyrants, Obedience to God9. "I intended well, and I hope all will end well": Franklin's Last YearsConclusionNotesBibliography of Printed SourcesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire, Carla Mulford draws on a lifetime of study in order to situate Franklin's political and economic thinking in its Atlantic context. Her detailed discussion of the intellectual currents through which Franklin moved, during his rich career, makesplain the uncanny modernity of his mind." --Douglas Anderson, author of he Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin