Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

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a colonial has,
indeed, claims to being America's pioneer economist.

Franklin's hatred of negro slavery was conditioned by more than his
humanitarian bias. It may be seen that his indictments of black cargoes
were the resultant of an interplay of his convictions that economically
slavery was enervating and dear and of his abstract sense of religious
and ethical justice. One should not minimize, however, his distrust of
slavery on other than economic bases. He was acutely influenced by the
Quakers of his colony who, like gadflies, were stinging slaveholders to
an awareness of their blood traffic, and by the rise of English
humanitarianism. In his youth he had published (first edition, 1729;
second, 1730), with no little danger to himself and his business, Ralph
Sandiford's _A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times_, an
Amos-like vituperative attack on the "unrighteous Gain" of slaveholding.
He also published works of Benjamin Lay and John Woolman.[i-180] Friend
of Anthony Benezet, Benjamin Rush, Fothergill, and Granville Sharp, and
after 1760 a member of Dr. Bray's Associates, he lent his voice and pen
to denouncing slavery on religious and ethical grounds; and in England,
after the James Sommersett trial (1772), he "began to agitate for
parliamentary action" toward the abolishing of slavery in all parts of
the British Empire.[i-181] Following the Sommersett verdict, Franklin
contributed a brief article to the _London Chronicle_ (June 18-20, 1772)
in which he denounced the "constant butchery of the human species by
this pestilential detestable traffic in the bodies and souls of
men."[i-182] Losing his temperamental urbanity when observing "the
diabolical Commerce,"[i-183] "the abominable African Trade," he
recollects approvingly that a certain French moralist[i-184] could "not
look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of
human blood!"[i-185] Conditioned by Quakerism, by his deism, which
suggested that "the most acceptable Service we render him [God] is doing
good to his other Children," and by the eighteenth century's growing
repugnance toward suffering and pain,[i-186] Franklin (although he took
little part in legislating against slavery in Pennsylvania) became
through his writing a model to be imitated, especially in France, by a
people more intent on becoming humane than saintly.

His letter to Anthony Benezet (London, July 14, 1773), however, clearly
indicates that for economic, as well as humanitarian reasons, he had
sought freedom for slaves:

I am glad to hear that such humane Sentiments prevail so much
more generally than heretofore, that there is Reason to hope
our Colonies may in time get clear of a Practice that
disgraces them, and, without producing

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

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to avoid the censure of the Assembly that might fall on him as still printing it by his apprentice, the contrivance was that my old indenture should be returned to me, with a full discharge on the back of it, to be shown on occasion; but to secure to him the benefit of my service I was to sign new indentures for the remainder of the term, which were to be kept private.
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The term, which always implied a sneer, was made current by Pope and Swift and their coterie.
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He received me very affectionately, for he always loved me.
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Ralph was ingenious, genteel in his manners, and extremely eloquent; I think I never knew a prettier talker.
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I immediately got into work at Palmer's, then a famous printing house in Bartholomew Close, and here I continued near a year.
Page 75
Franklin celebrated his wife in a song, of which the following verses are a part: "Of their Chloes and Phyllises poets may prate, I sing my plain country Joan, These twelve years my wife, still the joy of my life, Blest day that I made her my own.
Page 113
different sects, care was taken in the nomination of trustees, in whom the building and ground was to be vested, that a predominancy should not be given to any sect, lest in time that predominancy might be a means of appropriating the whole to the use of such sect, contrary to the original intention.
Page 115
They promised this, and they kept their promise, because they could get no liquor, and the treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction.
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The money may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors.
Page 124
The governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the Assembly, expressed his approbation of the plan, as appearing to him to be drawn up with.
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Page 137
Dunbar, when the command devolved on him, was not so generous.
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My acquainting them that the money was ready in the paymaster's hands, but that orders for paying it must first be obtained from General Shirley, and my assuring them that I had applied to that general by letter, but, he being at a distance, an answer could not soon be received, and they must have patience,--all this was not sufficient to satisfy, and some began to sue me.
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] [Footnote 179: The powder used to fire the charge.
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Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the before-mentioned medal from the Royal Society, which he presented to me at an entertainment given him by the city.
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] [Footnote 186: Monsieur.
Page 157
Accordingly, some days after, when the wind blew very fair and fresh, and the captain of the packet, Lutwidge, said he believed she then went at the rate of thirteen knots, Kennedy made the experiment, and owned his wager lost.
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all spirit and virtue.