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Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire$
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Carla J. Mulford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384198

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384198.001.0001

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“I had such a Thirst for Knowledge”

“I had such a Thirst for Knowledge”

Franklin’s Boston Youth

(p.39) Two “I had such a Thirst for Knowledge”
Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire

Carla J. Mulford

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Franklin’s reading and writing during his youth and discusses several of the tracts Franklin worked on in his brother’s print shop. Franklin came to admire early modern liberalism by reading works by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, who together wrote “Cato’s Letters” for the London press, along with writings by John Locke, John Milton, Algernon Sidney, Daniel Defoe, and many others. Working in his brother’s print shop, Franklin learned about Boston’s economic matters and started developing his own ideas about how to stimulate the economy of Boston. When his brother was incarcerated for printing criticisms of those in government, Franklin printed materials related to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. By examining Franklin’s readings and writings during his youthful apprenticeship, the chapter accounts for his earliest ideas about politics, society, and the role of government in individuals’ lives.

Keywords:   freedom of the press, freedom of speech, early modern liberalism, bills of credit

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