Friday, March 24, 2017

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

This is the second biography of Jane Franklin as Carl Van Doren wrote Jane Mecom:  The Favorite Sister of Benjamin Franklin based upon the surviving letters from their lifelong correspondence.  Jane Franklin Mecom's life offers an unusual window into the world of Franklin, Boston and the New England of the 18th century.  Haven't read Carl Van Doren's biography but Jill LePore's introduction to JFM's life and times was wonderful treat.

Book of Ages:  The LIfe and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill LePore 
NY:  Alfred A Knopf, 2013

(6)  History is what is written and can be found;  what isn’t saved is lost, sunken and rotted, eaten by earth.

(23)  Uncle Benjamin Franklin, the elder and poet, on his wife:  “In her I lost the delight of mine Eyes, the desire of my heart, and the comfort of my life.”

(68)  The first paper money in the colonies - the first official paper money anywhere in the Western world - was printed in Boston in 1690.

(69)  For a long time, the colonies had been a debtors’ asylum.  Two out of three people who left England for America were debtors;  creditors found it all but impossible to pursue debtors across the Atlantic.

(75)  Jane:  “We cannot Easely feel our Selves croweded with the company of those we Love,” she liked to say.

(79)  He [Franklin] counted thirteen virtues:  temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquillity, chastity, and humility.

(105)  Of a younger woman whom Jane found stingy:  “she is wise so far as that wisdom Reaches to keep her Dolars to her self.”

(146)  In 1766, Benjamin Mecom [Jane’s son] had begun using for his newspaper’s motto something Franklin had once printed:  “Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY, TO PURCHASE A LITTLE TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY.”

(162)  But in the Spring of 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act to bail out the East India Company, which, with a surplus of tea and stiff competition from smugglers, was facing bankruptcy.  By eliminating duties on tea in England and lowering the import tax to just three pence, the Tea Act actually reduced the price of tea in the colonies, but it offended by its assertion of Parliament’s right to tax the colonies, and by its proteciton of a politically connected corporate monopoly.  It wasn’t the price;  it was the principle.
NB:  The American war for Independence was about corporations as well as royalty, about economic democracy

(177)  Some sixty thousand Americans died during the [Revolutionary] war.  Most of them were soldiers.  Only about forty-five hundred died in battle.  The rest died of cold or typhus.

(354)  BF, Autobiography, 65:  “I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian;  and tho’ some of the Dogmas of that Persuasion, such as the Eternal decrees of God, Election, Reprobation, etc. appear’d to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the Public Assemblies of the Sect, Sunday being my Studying-Day, I never was without some religious Principles;  I never doubted, for instance, the Existence of the Deity, that he made the World, and govern’d it by his Providence;  that the most acceptable Service of God was the doing Good to Man;  that our Souls are immortal;  and that all Crime will be punished and Virtue rewarded either here or hereafter."

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