David Franks, a colonial businessman in Philadelphia, was one of the most important figures in American Jewish history in the eighteenth century. This extensively researched biography illuminates not only Franks's personal dealings, but also his business life. Franks was involved with Indian trade, ship design and building, manufacturing, international trade, land speculation, westward exploration, and military provisioning. This volume follows Franks from his beginnings in a prominent Jewish family to his trials for treason and his exile in the postrevolutionary period, offering a unique portrait of a forgotten American.
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Mark Abbott Stern is a retired engineer and amateur historian. He has devoted the past eleven years to studying the life of David Franks.Review:
“Mark Abbott Stern’s well-written and extremely well-researched biography of Philadelphia merchant David Franks (1720–1793) ranks among the best works on early American Jews. It is also the finest study I know that clarifies the complicated story of army contracting during the French and Indian War and the bureaucratic intricacies of caring for prisoners of war during the American Revolution.”
—William A. Pencak, The Pennsylvania State University
“In this gracefully written book, Mark Abbott Stern tells the story of a Jewish man, his Christian family, and his adopted city of Philadelphia during the era that led to American independence. David Franks: Colonial Merchant is the sweeping and illuminating chronicle of a businessman’s engagement with history, the grand intersection of personal temperament with war, westward expansion, and social assimilation. Demonstrating remarkable archival scholarship, Stern writes with skill, sympathy, and mastery about a man in his times.”
—Edith B. Gelles, Stanford University
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