Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father

Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father

by Thomas S. Kidd


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A major new biography, illuminating the great mystery of Benjamin Franklin’s faith

Renowned as a printer, scientist, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin also published more works on religious topics than any other eighteenth-century American layperson. Born to Boston Puritans, by his teenage years Franklin had abandoned the exclusive Christian faith of his family and embraced deism. But Franklin, as a man of faith, was far more complex than the “thorough deist” who emerges in his autobiography. As Thomas Kidd reveals, deist writers influenced Franklin’s beliefs, to be sure, but devout Christians in his life—including George Whitefield, the era’s greatest evangelical preacher; his parents; and his beloved sister Jane—kept him tethered to the Calvinist creed of his Puritan upbringing. Based on rigorous research into Franklin’s voluminous correspondence, essays, and almanacs, this fresh assessment of a well-known figure unpacks the contradictions and conundrums faith presented in Franklin’s life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300240177
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/28/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 432,541
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Thomas S. Kidd is distinguished professor of history and associate director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. His books include American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths and Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Child of the Puritans 10

2 Exodus to Philadelphia, Sojourn in London 33

3 Philadelphia Printer 53

4 Poor Richard 80

5 Ben Franklin's Closest Evangelical Friend 105

6 Electrical Man 128

7 Tribune of the People 151

8 Diplomat 176

9 The Pillar of Fire 204

Conclusion 226

Notes 231

Acknoivledgments 269

Index 271

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