Chapter I
Boyhood Training

WHAT FORMS THE mind of a bright and active boy? What results from an interplay of admonition, example, games, and books? When nearly seventy, Benjamin Franklin remembered that as a lad he had heard Increase Mather preach about the rumored death of "that wicked old Persecutor of God's People, Lewis XIV." Mather delivered the sermon on October 2, 1715, ( Franklin was nine) amid warnings in Boston newspapers that the invasion of Scotland by Popish backers of the Stuart pretender to the British throne endangered the Protestant succession in England. The country had just finished over twenty years of exhausting warfare to prevent Louis XIV from extending absolutist and Catholic hegemony over western and central Europe. During the struggle, first called King William's and then Queen Anne's War in the colonies, Indians had ravaged the frontier from New England to the Carolinas. The wars were especially traumatic in Massachusetts. There savages assaulted peaceful villages and imperialist France threatened invasion. The treasonable attempt at home (as colonists called England) to supplant a cherished dynasty with a despised foreign one aroused the zeal of self- righteous Puritans, who saw the struggle for the Protestant succession as part of a crusade against diabolical Jesuits. Little wonder then that a nine- year-old boy found memorable a sermon by the lead

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Benjamin Franklin
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The GREAT AMERICAN THINKERS Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chronology xi
  • Chapter I Boyhood Training 1
  • Chapter II Early Readinq 9
  • Chapter III Skepticism and Orthodoxy 32
  • Chapter IV Business, Personal, and Civic Virtue 55
  • Chapter V Science 78
  • Chapter VI Politics 88
  • Chapter VII Vision of Empire: From Loyalty to Revolution 111
  • Chapter VIII The Art of Congeniality 135
  • Chapter IX International Relations 149
  • Chapter X Religion 163
  • Chapter XI The Public Philosophy of a Saqe 185
  • Selected Bibliography 213
  • Index 221
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