|Benjamin Franklin and Slavery: A Man Ahead of His Times
We try to
get to know the important and famous, like Benjamin Franklin, by
them. However, autobiographies and
biographies have built in limitations, writers with poor or selective
lost documents, and the general fog of history.
These lives of the famous and not so famous
give us entertainment, and much more.
They also tell us how and how not we might live our lives. Close study of these books yield more to the
reader than the common self help books of which our society seems
enamored. Among his many firsts,
Benjamin Franklin wrote the first American autobiography.
He wrote it late in his life and never
finished it as it only covers his first few decades.
As an autobiographer, Franklin enjoyed the
dual role of author and editor, so it tells us as much about Franklin
he decided to include as what he decided to exclude.
For instance, Franklin never mentions the
issue of slavery, a very contentious moral, economic and political
issue in which he was involved for decades as printer and publisher,
businessman, politician and diplomat, philosopher of the Enlightenment,
issue that almost tore our country in two in the Civil War, and an
still resonates today as we continue to wrestle with the issue of race.
At the time
of Franklin’s birth in 1706, slavery was well established with the
brought to America in the early 1600’s.
Already the young economy of the colonies was dependent on this
of cheap but diligent labor. Though most
of the slaves were south of what would later be called the Mason-Dixon
the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland, slaves lived in the northern
colonies. A very small number of freed
African-Americans lived there too, but their freedom was precarious as
could point an accusing finger at one walking down the street, claim
person was a runaway slave, and that person had no way to defend
oneself in a
court of law. The numbers of the slaves
increased rapidly in the opening decades of the 1700’s, so that by 1730
least ten to twenty percent of the populations of Philadelphia and New
City were slaves. This view doesn’t
challenge that the South was more heavily invested in slavery than the
but still causes surprise.
The slave trade and slavery existed
not just as an integral part of the colonial economy, but also as an
part of the religious beliefs of the colonies’ Christians, many of whom
religious persecution in Europe. They
cited many biblical passages that support the institution of slavery. Exodus 21: 20-21 merely states that a master
can only be held responsible if actions towards a slave result in the
death of the slave, but otherwise proscribes no punishment for the
abuse of a slave. In the New
Testament, Matthew 24:45-46, Jesus
says, "Blessed is the slave whom his master will find at work when he
arrives." It should be noted that
in some translations the word “servant” is used in the place of
Christ never criticizes the common practice of slavery nor calls for
end. In Ephesians 6: 5-6 Paul in an
epistle writes "Slaves obey your masters with fear and trembling...as
obey Christ." Neither testament
condemns it. Justification continued in
the early centuries of the church with St. Augustine seeing slavery as
the natural order. Despite all of these Biblical justifications, even
entrenched of present day Fundamentalists with their literal readings
Bible see these justifications of slavery as a contorted pretzel of
grew up in such a religious region, city and household, Boston,
the center of Puritan life in the colonies.
At the time of his birth, the Salem Witch Trials were still a
memory in the minds of the people of this colony. His
father Josiah, though not a member of the
clergy, was a member in good standing in the Old South Church in
church still standing and still active and of course, with its own
website. He was the quintessential
pillar of the community in religious and secular matters.
It wasn’t unusual for members of his church
and citizens of Boston to seek him out for advice.
Young Ben was certainly influenced by his
father’s diligent, honest ways as Ben would grow up to be a very
proprietor of a printing house and an influential citizen of
But Ben had
other spiritual influences. Two of
colonial America’s most influential clergymen, Increase Mather and his
Cotton, shaped spiritual thought and influenced politics of the region. Cotton’s Essays
To Do Good had a deep effect on Ben as he credits them as helping
his point of view that doing for the common good was an important
value. On slavery Cotton Mather wrote
that it was “a spectacle that shocks humanity.”
In his view, the slave was like a child to be tended to and
the master in a fatherly way. Of course,
the slave was to be converted and saved for Jesus as he explained in a
pamphlet, “The Negro Christianized.”
It’s interesting too that his congregation bought him a slave
Onesimus, who, as it turned out, was not always so grateful for
attempts to act as a Christian father.
From early on Ben understood the conundrum of slavery; it was
condemned and condoned.
Perhaps because of the blessing of so
many children, Josiah felt the need to tithe one of them to the church.
was the chosen one as Josiah sent young boy to a nearby school, for it
already clear to members of the family that he was a special child,
with keen intelligence and an ability to learn quickly and well. But the financial strains of such a large
family cut short Ben’s schooling. He
attended only two years. Now Josiah had
to find an occupation for the youngster and by walking him around the
saw how tradesmen did their trades.
Fearful that Ben would hanker to be a sailor, Josiah steered his
toward a trade that would not take his son to the nether parts of the
months and years at a time where he would possibly lose his life like
brother, Josiah Jr. In 1718 Ben's father
and another of Ben’s elder brothers, James, agreed to Ben serving an
at James’ printing shop. Young Ben would
serve James until he was twenty-one, nearly a decade.
In his brother’s business he proved a very
capable worker, strong of shoulders and legs, much needed in a trade in
the workers needed to haul around very heavy typesets.
During these years, Franklin continued
his education on his own, reading almost everything and anything his
scarce surroundings had. One area he
worked on very diligently was writing.
This was the golden age of the English essay and Franklin
writings of Addison and Steele as they appeared in their newspaper The Spectator. He copied and
imitated their writing styles
until he was, as a mere teen, a master writer.
In 1721 James started a newspaper called the New
England Courant. Soon
Ben was anonymously submitting pieces to the paper under the name of
Dogood, who claimed she was an elderly lady, the first of many personae
Franklin would assume in his printing and publishing career. The pieces became extremely popular and many
wondered who the writer could be. Of
course, the guesses centered on individuals much older than the
apprentice. When Ben told James that he
had written them, James had mixed feelings; he was glad that Ben’s
appreciated and read as they boosted sales of the paper, but he also
intimidated by the accomplished prose of a teen who displayed a
the world beyond his years as he could convincingly assume the persona
This added to the strains of family
and work relationships which conflicted with each other.
Tensions arose from time to time with the
problems sometimes aired in front of their father who usually sided
older James. Over the years James verbal
and physical abuse of Ben made the situation less and less tolerable
youngster. He felt this even more keenly
when James landed in jail.
Let’s give James his due. He was the first publisher in the colonies to
feel confident enough to use his paper to speak out against the
mostly religious ones of Boston. And
then he stood firm for freedom of the press rather than give in to
who wanted to censor his newspaper. Ben
ran the paper while James was in jail and surely Ben realized the irony
being an apprentice to his brother with all its terms and limitations,
was more and more seeking to loosen or get rid of altogether while at
time running one of the colonies' earliest newspapers during a time of
with its owner and publisher in jail. In
1723 Ben cut his ties and ran away from Boston.
Franklin’s autobiography clearly
presents Ben’s decision to runaway from his apprenticeship, and thereby
breaking a legal contact, as one of the first steps he took to become a
successful person from humble beginnings who would live the life of the
famous American of his time. It is all
positive, his telling of what was a very illegal act, that angered and
humiliated James, confounded his family and put them in a worrying
mind as Franklin left without warning or word to anyone.
But as David Waldstreicher points out in his
book, Runaway America, the land was
full of runaways as many had fled Europe for a better life in the
From Puritan Boston Franklin traveled
to Quaker Pennsylvania and its largest settlement, Philadelphia. Though Franklin decided at a young age that
organized religion wasn't for him, he was shaped by the Puritanism of
birthplace and then the Quakerism of his new home.
Also known as the Religious Society of
Friends, the Quakers were founded by George Fox in the 1600's in
England. A Quaker, William Penn
established the colony
of Pennsylvania and Quakers were very powerful in Philadelphia. They opposed war and believed in the not only
the equality of all men, but of women too.
They were early opponents of slavery.
Though Franklin disagreed with them on certain issues, like the
needed military defense of the city, he admired the atmosphere of
tolerance they fostered in the colony.
Certainly, their abolitionist views gave Franklin much to think
Within a decade of Franklin’s arrival
in Philadelphia, he was running a successful printing and publishing
business. Along the way he spent two
years in London where he worked in the printing trade as a valuable
eschewed the many pints of beer a day that his fellow workers claimed
but according to Ben, mostly hindered their labor.
He stuck to water rather than ale, and in
part because of that, he outworked all the others as he was as a young
extremely fit belying the common image of Franklin the older and
man. In London he made and lost
friends, engaged in affairs with women he hardly knew.
But most importantly, Franklin absorbed the
many new ideas, part of the intellectual life of London at the time,
stimulated by The Enlightenment. He took
swimmingly to these swift currents of thought which offered a new view
world through the lens of rational thought, observation, hypothesis and
experiment, the scientific approach to life.
The new Franklin was a balanced blend
of the principled and the pragmatic.
This is very clearly shown in his role as printer and publisher
regards to the slave trade and slavery.
By 1728 Franklin had his own printing business.
And through his experience with James’ paper,
Franklin, in 1729, felt confident enough to buy the Pennsylvania
Gazette from a former employer, Samuel Keimer.
passed on copies to Benjamin Lay, another Quaker, who was much admired. Franklin, the governor, and others regularly
paid him visits. An odd man whose life
reads like a back to nature hippie of the 60’s, he farmed, tended bees,
his own flax, and took to living in a cave to be closer to nature. In 1737 again without listing his name as
In addition to printing anti-slavery
Franklin also printed notices for runaway slaves. Obviously
he didn’t view their running away
in the same way he viewed his own. His
was a model declaration of independence while runaway slaves were
harassed until caught, then, not only returned to the horrific life of
but severely punished for their declarations of independence. For
slave owners often whipped the returned runaways opening up deep
the back with the added insult of a wooden bucket of salt water thrown
raw open flesh, salt on the wounds in the most literal meaning. Franklin also printed advertisements for the
sale of slaves which usually took place within a short distance of his
shop. A meeting place for the area's
businessmen was the London Coffee House where all sorts of deals were
including deals to buy and sell slaves.
One can’t imagine that with the close proximity of the slave
his printing shop, that Franklin didn’t witness the brutal degrading
of fellow human beings, inspected as one would inspect cattle, and the
rendering cries of children and parents as the buying and selling of
people ripped families apart. Franklin’s
pragmatic approach to business is clear.
And it is this pragmatism that produced a businessman who did so
that he was able to start America’s first franchise, a string of
houses up and down the Atlantic coast extending into the Caribbean and
as a wealthy man at the age of forty-two.
He also understood that colonial America was a complex system of
of bound workers from the lesser apprenticeship he experienced to
servants, bound servants, the convicts of the Virginia, Maryland, and
colonies and the slaves. In a land with
a shortage of labor, all kinds of work arrangements were welcome and as
the time argued, Franklin among them, totally necessary.
In 1739 Franklin befriended George
Whitefield, a very popular Methodist preacher from England. Certainly, Franklin was drawn to him in part
because Whitefield was his own man, an outspoken critic of the Anglican
and most clergy. In a pamphlet Franklin
published in 1740, Whitefield spoke out against the treatment of slaves. He wrote,
dogs are caressed and fondled at your tables; but your slaves who are
frequently styled dogs or beasts, have not an equal privilege. . .
. .have been, upon the most trifling provocation, cut with knives, and
forks thrown into their flesh.”
He is not
referring to the blunt ended table knife nor the dull dining fork but
field knife and sharpened tines of the agricultural pitchfork. Whitefield called the doers of these deeds,
“monsters of barbarity,” and wrote that if the slaves were to exact any
retribution, it would be justified.
the scrupulous printer, Franklin no doubt read all he printed and being
thinker, Franklin no doubt thought about the arguments against slavery. Yet, in 1748 he purchased the first of his
many slaves to work in his printing shop and the stationery store his
managed. In 1751Franklin
wrote in an essay, “Observations Concerning
the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries etc.” that Africans
kept out of America. One reason was the detrimental effects that
slavery had on
But a deeper influence on Franklin
was the work of Dr. Thomas Bray who started a group called the Society
Promoting Christian Knowledge, and in 1723 founded another group,
for Founding Clerical Libraries and Supporting Negro Schools.
When he retired Franklin became
involved in his scientific interests. He
invented the Franklin Stove, a cheaper and more efficient way to heat a
started his first observations of weather and other natural phenomena,
especially his experiments with electricity.
Here is where he excelled and amazed.
He conjectured that the electricity he was producing and
his laboratory was the same substance as lightning, and if so, he could
control lightning. This he did when he
invented the lightning rod which attracted lightning and then directed
from the house or shop on which it was attached. This
one invention saved much money and
countless lives, and as important as they were, this invention did even
more. In his time many thought that
lightning God's punishment and because it was intended by God, the
not even attempt to put out the fires to save property or life. With this one invention Franklin proved that
what was once considered theology was just superstition.
Once again, Franklin showed himself to be a
man ahead of his time and one who didn't hesitate to go against what
commonly accepted. One wonders why in
mid century and in mid life with so much accumulated knowledge and
and his penchant for thinking of ideas outside the norm, why was he
supporting slavery and not accepting the many rigorous, rational,
moral arguments of the anti-slavery movement.
His retirement also allowed him to
devote even more time to civic duties.
Franklin’s continued success over the decades in public affairs
the go to guy for any sort of public project.
Having been involved in the politics of the Pennsylvania
So, the Assembly sent him to England
in 1757 as its agent. In those days
because travel by boat was so very slow, a many months long trip across
Atlantic Ocean, one didn’t jaunt as we do to another country for a few
a business trip or for a week or two for a vacation.
Rather, one stayed for a long period of time,
at least months and at most years as
In England he met men who were
dedicating their lives to the end of slavery and those friendships
him mightily. Richard Price was a member
of a group, the Club of Honest Whigs that met regularly in a London
tavern. Price was a Presbyterian
minister who wrote about many different ideas all concerning political
religious reform. A rare Englishman in
his support for the American causes, he may have thought that this
allowed him to counsel the Americans. He
wrote that they should end slavery immediately, citing moral and
grounds. He also warned the colonists,
that for those who hold others in slavery, there may be others who
them in slavery. In other words, what
goes around might come around.
A stronger influence on Franklin was
Granville Sharp. A man of many interests
and talents, he served as a government clerk while writing about social
moral issues. A deeply devout person, he was a conscientious objector,
all wars and staunchly opposed to slavery.
In 1750 Sharp met a slave, Jonathan Strong, who had suffered
problems related to his enslavement. The
numerous beatings he endured as a slave made him lame and nearly blind. His master, David Lisle threw him out on the
street to make his own way. But Lisle
ran into Strong a couple of years later and seeing he was in better
shape, had him jailed while Lisle looked for a buyer.
Technically slavery had been outlawed in
Britain in the 1100's, but in the seventeen hundreds many slaves were
into the country as servants with no freedoms or power, and many
colonies used slavery. The question for
Sharp and Strong was does a slave become free once setting foot in
England. They knew their answer, but
the judge was well aware of a precedent case, the 1729 decision on a
matter which stated that slaves, once in England were free, but also
the slave as property of the master and would be considered as a
apprentice. Sharp diligently studied English law and wrote a pamphlet
titled “A Representation of the
Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery.” He pointed out that this
system of bondage was related to the serfdom of medieval times and that
it is a
“Feudal tyranny” which had no place in modern England.
All his reasons for ending slavery did
influence Lisle as he dropped his case against Sharp.
Of course, that still left the legal matter
In 1772 the Someset case decided the
fate of slaves in England. James
Somerset, a runaway slave had been living in London when his former
Charles Steuart found him and attempted to send him to Jamaica. The court ruled in Somerset's favor and in
doing so, in the favor of thousands of slaves throughout Britain by
establishing that any slave, once on British soil, was free.
Franklin was moved by this
decision. In that same year he wrote a
piece for the London Chronicle called
“The Somerset Case and the Slave Trade” in which he condemned both
the slave trade. In it he laid out the
brutalities of the trade from the Atlantic passage and poor working
which he described as “excessive labour, bad nourishment, uncomfortable
accommodation and broken spirits.” In an
undated manuscript in the American Philosophical Library in
seems Franklin is writing on this case.
He cites Deuteronomy 23, 16, which states that an escaped slave
not be returned to his master. Franklin
comments, “This is manifestly, a moral law, which be ever binding as
of God.” He further states “it is a
maxim of the common Law of
In his years in England he first
served as an agent for the Pennsylvania Assembly and later as the
representative. He successfully worked
for the repeal of the Stamp Act among other things.
But though he was well known and regarded
among the scientific and philosophical communities, receiving honorary
from prestigious universities, and though he had many years of
experience in Pennsylvania, his political work in England was mostly a
and he became embroiled in a scandal that led to a public humiliation
Privy Council. Franklin returned to
America in 1775. Back at home, he became
a member of the Continental Congress, but didn't use his position and
reputation to help steer the Continental Congress toward the abolition
slavery. The Congress cut short his
stay, for in 1776 the Congress sent him to France to negotiate a treaty
the French for help in the Revolutionary War.
Again as he had done before,
Franklin spent many years overseas in this assignment.
But there was a big difference between his
arrivals in England and France. France
loved Franklin. The French considered
Franklin to be the quintessential American, a rustic philosopher though
was nothing rural about this life long city dweller, a man who showed
we could control the heavens through his work with electricity, and a
representing an upstart group of colonies that were taking on the most
army, navy and government in the world, that just happened to be
enemy. Franklin was feted wherever he
went. The powdered and wigged women of
Paris couldn't wait to receive his kisses, little pecks on their bared
as not to smudge the makeup or lipstick.
His picture was on cups, vases, sold and displayed throughout
France. The many years and the long
lapses of time between negotiating sessions allowed Franklin to have
socializing and meeting with France's greatest minds, for instance, the
and often written about meeting between Franklin and the great
But Franklin met many others of the
intellectual elite of the country and many of them were against slavery. The Marquis de Condorcet supported equality
and liberty for all, individuals and groups.
Some of his ideas were very extreme for his time like in his
what we call gay rights. Trained as a
scientist, Condorcet is considered one of the pioneers of modern social
though he impressed in many sciences like his work in setting up a
system of weights and measures to improve commerce.
In 1773 he wrote Franklin without having met
him before. Of course, when writing the
world's most famous scientist and being one himself, Condorcet touched
science, but he also asked much about the condition, not only of
also freedmen in America. Franklin
responded that the freedmen “are not deficient in natural
they have not the Advantage of Education.”
This remark shows that Franklin was still influenced by what he
that school in Philadelphia. They became
friends, and as the Marquis continued his work to end slavery, the two
friends until the end of Franklin's life.
In 1781 Condorcet wrote his first major work on slavery called Reflections of Negro Slavery. He
“To reduce a man to slavery, to
purchase him, to sell him, to keep him in servitude, these are
and they are crimes worst than theft. In
effect, we strip the slave, not only of all mobile and financial
his ability to acquire it, including everything that nature has given
him so he
may conserve his life or satisfy his needs.”
stated that slavery was a criminal act and those who participated in
trade should be prosecuted. In the
1780's with Jacques-Pierre Brissot he formed an abolitionist society
him to continue to correspond and work with Franklin on this issue
Franklin returned from France in 1785.
Franklin returned to America with
two sterling successes. He negotiated a
treaty for France's help in the war, and this aid of money and military
recognized as possibly the most important aspect of the victory of the
as he was not representing a recognized government, as the colonies'
won a battle and as America had no idea or way to reimburse the French
their financial help. But more
importantly he returned with a peace treaty with Britain.
the long sail home he continued his very active life, doing experiments
observing weather patterns, and sea animals.
He also wrote in his "Maritime Observations," about slavery
questioning whether the “employment it affords is equal to the mischief
hazarding so many lives on the ocean.”
Further he writes that "it is clearly the means of augmenting
mass of human misery." Franklin
marvels at "the ships and lives risked in fetching tea from China,
from Arabia, sugar and tobacco from America, all which our ancestors
without." He also cites "an
eminent French moralist" (perhaps Condorcet) about whom he says, "that
when he considers the wars
we excite in
slaves, the numbers necessarily
slain in those wars, the many
who perish at sea by sickness...and how many afterwards die from the
of slavery, he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it
with spots of human blood!"
At the same time he was involved in
the debate in the Constitutional Convention about regarding any Negro
three-fifths of a person. Franklin
uttered no words arguing for the equality of slaves.
Perhaps he felt the need to endorse and pass
a constitution, any constitution, as more immediately important. In a stirring speech about urging the
ratification of the constitution Franklin starts by saying that he
“entirely approve of this constitution.”
But Franklin didn't go into details about what he didn't approve
In a recent essay entitled, “At the
End, an Abolitionist?” Emma J. Lapansky-Werner leads the reader through
aspects of Franklin's thoughts and actions regarding slavery. Because of his quiet on the subject at the
Constitutional Convention and his various health problems, she points
many scholars have viewed Franklin as a figurehead for the abolitionist
Franklin busied himself to rid the
of this hypocrisy. Many unpublished
letters in Yale University's archive of Franklin's papers show him to
be a very
involved president. Franklin sent and
received scores of letters as he corresponded with abolitionist
England and in France continuing his relationship with the Marquis de
Condorcet. He sent a letter to the
Pennsylvania Assembly urging the passing of a bill that would put money
improvement of free blacks. On February
he wrote a letter to the young nation's
“>From a persuasion that equal liberty was
originally the Portion and is still the Birthright of all Men, and
by the strong ties of Humanity and the Principles of their Institution,
Memorialists conceive themselves to use all justifiable endeavors to
bands of Slavery and promote a general Enjoyment of the blessings of
Freedom. Under these Impressions they
earnestly entreat your serious attention to the subject of Slavery;
will be pleased to countenance the Restoration of liberty to those
who alone in this land of Freedom are degraded in to perpetual Bondage,
amidst the general Joy of Surrounding Free men are groaning in servile
subjection, that you will devise means for removing this Inconsistency
character of the American People, that you will promote Mercy and
towards this distressed Race, and that you will step to the very verge
Powers vested in you, for discouraging
every Species of Traffick in the person of our fellow Men.”
John Adams presented the letter to
the Senate which debated the issue but did nothing more than talk. The House at least appointed a committee and
then debated the issue for many days concluding, much to
Enfeebled by gout, kidney stones,
and the general pains and illnesses of old age, his remaining weeks
Franklin continued his abolitionist cause by writing an essay published
by the Federal Gazette, in which he assumed, as
he had done many times in his public career and now for the last time,
persona of another this time one Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a fictitious
Muslim prince. In it Ibrahim defends
the enslaving of Christians. Franklin
cleverly puts into Ibrahim's mouth the very words that many Christians
America were using to defend slavery.
Less than a month later Franklin died, his funeral attended by
and conducted by the clergy from all the religions in Philadelphia. Seventy years later slavery was finally
abolished with the violence of the Civil War.
On the one
hand it seems easy from our vantage point to come down hard on
Franklin, the most
educated, inquisitive, and advanced thinker of his time to have taken
to come to the very obvious, the inherent immorality of slavery. However, even coming from Franklin at the end
of his life with his many accomplishments and fame, with his decades of
experience and thought, as he was always analyzing and questioning, the
slavery as evil and the more radical idea that African-Americans are
to whites if given respect and education were extremely unpopular and
many from all levels of American life thought were dangerous and
ruinous to the future of the country. He
did take what was considered a radical position.
One wonders about this gentleman of
the Enlightenment, that force in the Western world that gave rise to
and appreciation of the intellect and its reasoning powers as applied
scientific view of the world. This is
part of how he came to condemn slavery.
His support of the school for African-American children was the
of a scientific hypothesis to test whether young children no matter
color can learn. And being a true
scientist, he did change his thinking based on what he saw at that
school. Yet, perhaps in his heart he had
no way to
change those deep negative feelings held for many decades that
from having a more personal relationship with his slaves of many
from meeting those famous African-Americans like Phyllis Wheatley, with
had a chance to meet in London at one time, and then later expressed
that the meeting didn't happen. And he
never met fellow Philadelphian Richard Allen, a freedman who
formation of many institutions to help African-Americans similar to the
Franklin formed many decades earlier for whites. Franklin
was always one to meet those who
were like him, ahead of his time, but he chose not to meet them. And one wonders at this man who along with
all other talents was a skilled and frequent writer who wrote about
aspects of his life at length, but yet wrote little about his slaves of
decades and when he did, the words carried the evidence of a racist
mind as he
peddles the most demeaning of stereotypes and misnomers about this
Franklin, the pragmatist, may have
wanted to move sooner to his newfound position on slavery, but perhaps
thought it wasn’t prudent based on the extreme unpopularity of the
sentiment. Having returned from France
with a successfully negotiated treaty with France for help in the war
more important peace treaty with Britain, given that his achievements
and far reaching, and knowing his remaining years were few, perhaps he
that now it was safe enough for him to publicly, for the first time, as
the abolitionist society, commit himself to the abolitionist cause.
As Franklin shaped America in so many
ways as printer, publisher, author, businessman, discoverer, inventor,
philanthropist, politician, diplomat, he also mirrors America’s long
tortuous way to iron out the problem of race in this country. Just as he came very late to opposing
slavery, so too has the country come late to abolish slavery, Jim Crow
lynching, and discrimination. He ended
his life with his mind and heart probably in conflict with each other
issue. And that is where our country
remains, in that gray area of progress gained and progress needed, in
area of hope and despair as we continue the American Revolution to make
manifest the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and principles
Margaret, Ben Franklin of Old
Jack, Atlantic Cousins: Benjamin Franklin
and His Visionary Friends.
New York, New York: Avalon, 2005
A. Leo, ed., Franklin's Writings. New
York, New York: Library of America,
Literary Classics of America, 1987.
Claude-Anne, My Life with Benjamin
David, Runaway America: Benjamin
Franklin, Slavery, and the American
Revolution. New York, New York:
and Giroux, 20