Benjamin Franklin and the leather-apron men: the politics of class in eighteenth-century Philadelphia

Newman, S.P. (2009) Benjamin Franklin and the leather-apron men: the politics of class in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. Journal of American Studies, 43(2), pp. 161-175. (doi: 10.1017/S0021875809990089)

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Benjamin Franklin's autobiography reveals his deep investment in shaping and controlling how both his contemporaries and posterity assessed his life and achievements. This essay explores Franklin's construction and presentation of his pride in his working-class origins and identity, analysing how and why Franklin sought not to hide his poor origins but rather to celebrate them as a virtue. As an extremely successful printer, Franklin had risen from working-class obscurity to the highest ranks of Philadelphia society, yet unlike other self-made men of the era Franklin embraced and celebrated his artisanal roots, and he made deliberate use of his working-class identity during the Seven Years War and the subsequent imperial crisis, thereby consolidating his own reputation and firming up the support of urban workers who considered him one of their own.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Newman, Professor Simon
Authors: Newman, S.P.
Subjects:E History America > E151 United States (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Journal of American Studies
Journal Abbr.:J. Am. Stud.
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-5154
Published Online:31 July 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Journal of American Studies 43(2):161-175
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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