Franklin: The Autobiography and other Writings on Politics, Economics, and Virtue

Benjamin Franklin is one of the best known and most widely admired figures in American history. His wit and charm make him endearing; his practical intelligence and commitment to middle-class virtues like thrift and industry make him admirable. Indeed to many he is ‘the first American’. Ironically, this identification of Franklin with American popular culture diminishes the breadth and depth of his contributions to modern political thought. The present volume provides the textual foundation for a fuller understanding of Franklin’s thought, and represents a major addition to the Cambridge Texts series. Readers interested in the Autobiography will find a new and complete edition based on the original manuscript. Those interested in the full range of Franklin’s political ideas will find a selection of his most important letters, essays and pamphlets. Alan Houston’s lucid introduction brings life to these texts and sets them in their proper historical context.

• Makes available, for the first time in two generations, a full and representative selection of Franklin’s most important political writings • Includes the entire text of the Autobiography in a new edition based on the holograph manuscript • The editor Alan Houston is an experienced and highly regarded political theorist whose introduction provides a comprehensive and accessible account of Franklin’s political thought


Acknowledgements; Introduction; Chronology; Bibliographical note; Biographical guide; A note on the texts; 1. The autobiography - Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four; 2. Plan of conduct (1726); 3. The nature and necessity of a paper currency (1729); 4. Apology for printers (1731); 5. Rules for a club formerly established at Philadelphia (1732); 6. Dialogue between two Presbyterians (1735); 7. Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (1738); 8. Proposal for promoting useful knowledge (1743); 9. Speech of Miss Polly Baker (1747); 10. Plain truth (1747); 11. Form of the association and remarks (1747); 12. Advice to a young tradesman, written by an old one (1748); 13. Proposals relating to the education of youth in Pennsylvania; 14. Observations concerning the increase of mankind (1751); 15. Letter to James Parker (1751); 16. Rattlesnakes for Felons (1751); 17. Letter to Peter Collinson (1753); 18. Letter to Peter Collinson (1753); 19. Join or die (1754); 20. Reasons and motives for the Albany Plan of Union (1754); 21. Letters to Governor Shirley (1754) with a preface of 1766; 22. Preface to poor Richard improved (1757); 23. Letter to (1757); 24. Letter to Lord Kames (1760); 25. On the price of corn, and the management of the poor (1766); 26. Letter to Lord Kames (1767); 27. Causes of the American discontents before 1768 (1768); 28. The Somersett case and the slave trade (1772); 29. Rules by which a Great Empire may be reduced to a small one (1773); 30. An edict by the King of Prussia (1773); 31. On a proposed act to prevent immigration (1773); 32. Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (1775); 33. Morals of Chess (1779); 34. The Whistle (1779); 35. Letter to Joseph Priestley (1780); 36. Letter to Joseph Priestley (1782); 37. Letter to Richard Price (1782); 38. Letter to Robert Morris (1783); 39. Remarks concerning the savages of North America (1784); 40. Letter to Sarah Franklin Bache (1784); 41. Information to those who would remove to America (1784); 42. Letter to Benjamin Vaughan (1784); 43. At the Constitutional Convention (1787); 44. Queries and remarks (1789); 45. On the Slave Trade (1790); Index.