Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire

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9780199384198: Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire
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Drawing from Benjamin Franklin's published and unpublished papers, including letters, notes, and marginalia, Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire examines how the early modern liberalism of Franklin's youthful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 that became 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 but undermined 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 of what 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 founding father, 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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About the Author:


Carla Mulford is 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.

Review:


"Mulford's Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire is the fruit of a lifetime's study of the statesman and polymath, a polemically engaged and bold attempt to lend coherence to a famously multifaceted career."--The New York Review of Books


"By adding an analysis of what Franklin read to what he wrote, Mulford has crafted a remarkably comprehensive account of Franklin's thinking about the British Empire. The result is a fresh and illuminating study of one of early America's most written-about figures By embedding Franklin the writer in the literature that he and his contemporaries read, Mulford brings Franklin the thinker back to life in ways that no other recent biographer has managed to do. In so doing, she has produced a wonderful tribute to a figure who remains as fascinating and compelling today as he was in his own lifetime."--Early American Literature


"One might reasonably ask if anything new can be written about Benjamin Franklin. Carla J. Mulford's Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire answers that question with a resounding 'plenty.' Mulford begins this stimulating and engaging 'literary biography' with her self-proclaimed 'preoccupation' with Franklin's 1768 articulation of civil liberty Mulford's thorough and thoughtful analysis of his evolving intellectual commitment to American liberty has made me an admirer of Franklin the politician."--The Journal of American History


"Mulford argues persuasively that [Benjamin Franklin] formulated a bundle of assumptions about colonial rights and imperial power as a young man. Over time his thinking evolved, but the fundamental principles remained unchanged. This is a significant claim, since in Mulford's telling Franklin developed a coherent theory of colonial sovereignty well before the final revolutionary crisis."--Times Literary Supplement


"[T]he most thorough study of Franklin's thinking to date....It is engaging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Methodologically, it breaks new ground as a 'literary biography.' It helps to rehabilitate Franklin as a serious thinker on society, politics, and empire and not simply as a genial spouter of aphorisms and popular wisdom. Perhaps most important is the contribution it makes to our understanding of the origins of the American Revolution."--William and Mary Quarterly


"Given Mulford's methodology, this book should interest not only historians and scholars of colonial and US history but also those who study biography as a genre. Impeccable scholarship and an accessible style mark this sound effort."--CHOICE


"What new can be said about Benjamin Franklin? Plenty, proves Carla Mulford in this engaging literary biography. Applying twenty-first-century sophistication to themes long unfashionable in literary and scholarly historical circles--liberalism, government, American identity--Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire is essential for anyone interested in the political and cultural origins of the United States."--Daniel K. Richter, author of Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts


"Carla Mulford's sweeping study reveals aspects of Benjamin Franklin's intellectual life that have been given relatively short shrift by previous scholars. Most scholars view Franklin as something of a chameleon, even accusing him of having no 'inner core.' Highlighting continuities (rather than changes) in his thought, Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire stands as a much-needed corrective. Mulford painstakingly traces the intellectual roots of Franklin's complicated views, giving credit to those who came before him, to help us understand exactly how he arrived at his ideas about economy and empire."--Sheila Skemp, author of The Making of a Patriot: Benjamin Franklin at the Cockpit


"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, makes plain the uncanny modernity of his mind."--Douglas Anderson, author of he Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin


"Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire is an important book. It is engaging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Methodologically, it breaks new ground as a 'literary biography.' It helps to rehabilitate Franklin as a serious thinker on society, politics, and empire--and not simply as a genial spouter of aphorisms and popular wisdom. Perhaps most important is the contribution it makes to our understanding of the origins of the American Revolution."--William and Mary Quarterly


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire provides a painstaking study of the Founding Father s stances on government, imperialism, and fiscal policy, ultimately emphasizing how his opinions on these matters evolved over the course of his lifetime. Carla Mulford uses Franklin s prodigious literary output-which includes letters, pamphlets, newspaper articles, journal entries, and drafted speeches-to demonstrate how his views shifted, with special attention to the role played by Great Britain in his decision-making process before, during, and after the Revolution. The book begins with Franklin s progressive early writings on mercantilism, freedom of conscience, and freedom of the press, considering how they were shaped by his English-born parents and their decision to leave their tumultuous homeland in the seventeenth century. Franklin s young adult and middle years, when he became heavily involved with Pennsylvania politics, see a sharply conservative shift in his attitudes toward empire and monetary policy. Mulford draws on letters and issues of Poor Richard s Almanack from these years to reveal the beginnings of a conservative turn in his thought, highlighting his surprising support for the politics of imperialism. Franklin s mature years as the colonies chief representative and cultural ambassador in Britain and Europe form the content of the next two chapters, which elucidate Franklin s disenchantment with the British colonial administrations overseeing the Thirteen Colonies. Mining Franklin s autobiography, the book s last chapters cover Franklin s ultimate rejection of Great Britain and his condemnation of imperialism, especially with regard to Ireland and India. Overall, Mulford s monograph offers fresh, nuanced interpretations of the central issues that preoccupied Franklin throughout his life. Seller Inventory # BTE9780199384198

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