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The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin

, 296 pages
August 2007



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The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin

The most famous man of his age, Benjamin Franklin was an individual of many talents and accomplishments. He invented the wood-burning stove and the lightning rod, he wrote Poor Richard's Almanac and The Way to Wealth, and he traveled the world as a diplomat. But it was in politics that Franklin made his greatest impact.

Franklin’s political writings are full of fascinating reflections on human nature, on the character of good leadership, and on why government is such a messy and problematic business. Drawing together threads in Franklin's writings, Lorraine Smith Pangle illuminates his thoughts on citizenship, federalism, constitutional government, the role of civil associations, and religious freedom.

Of the American Founders, Franklin had an unrivaled understanding of the individual human soul. At the heart of his political vision is a view of democratic citizenship, a rich understanding of the qualities of the heart and mind necessary to support liberty and sustain happiness.

This concise introduction reflects Franklin's valuable insight into political issues that continue to be relevant today.

Lorraine Smith Pangle is an associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship and The Learning of Liberty: The Educational Ideas of the American Founders.

"This insightful and elegantly written book is a joy to read and highly recommended."

"A learned, wise, and well-written account... for giving readers one of the very finest introductions to this remarkable American's thought, we must thank Lorraine Pangle."

"An excellent piece of work, gracefully written, as befits a work on the printer and master-writer himself. Its insight into Benjamin Franklin's thought is fresh and penetrating. Among the distinctive features of this work is its running comparison of Franklin with Socrates and with the high tradition of political philosophy. Pangle digs unusually deeply into Franklin's writings and the history of his doings. "

"Smith Pangle... Brings an impressive knowledge of philosophy and Western intellectual traditions."

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