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tv   Nick Bunker Young Benjamin Franklin  CSPAN  December 31, 2018 10:27am-11:31am EST

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movement to make it happen. but it is possible. >> host: what do you teach at the university in pennsylvania? >> guest: history, the history of the constitution, i teach a course of working in america. u.s. history. anything else we will let me teach. >> host: here's the book, "a pocket guide to the u.s. constitution." professor andrew arnold is the author. >> keep an eye out for more interviews from the national press club book fair to air in the near future. you can also watch them and any of our programs in their entirety type the author's name in the search bar at the top of the page.
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>> good evening, everyone. welcome to your construct society. i'm alex caso, manager of public programs and always a a huge pleasure to welcome you here to our auditorium. now that her broken season is in full force, it's nice to see so many familiar faces back in our audience. tonight program, "young benjamin franklin: the birth of ingenuity" is part of the distinguished speakers series. the heart of our public programs and is also like to thank mr. swartz for his support which has enabled us to invite so many prominent authors and the stories here to the historical. i'd like to recognize and thank trustee susan and over chairman skelton members who are with us tonight for the great work and support.
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the program will last one and include a question-and-answer session. the q&a will be conducted via questions written on note cards, and as you entering the auditorium we had our volunteers handing out question cards and pencils. if you did not get one will be circulating later in the program and are happy to give you a card and also collect your questions and then to the speakers later on in the program. so also wanted to know the will be a book signing after the onstage talk. it's going to take place out in r smith gallery and that's with the books will also be sold at our kiosk, so please join us for that as well. we are so pleased to welcome nick bunker back to the historical society. he is author of an empire on the edge, how britain came to fight america, which some of you may remember he came and discussed that a few years ago on our stage. that book was a finalist for the
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2015 pulitzer prize in history, and the winner of the 2015 george washington prize. his most recent book which is you tonight to discuss is "young benjamin franklin: the birth of ingenuity." we are also very delighted to welcome back our moderator for this evening, carol berkin. she is presidential professor of history america at brooke college undergraduate center city new york. , the award-winning author of several books including the sovereign people, and the birth of american nationalism. she serves as scholarly advisor committee at newark historical center for women's history. of course before begin just please make sure any electronic devices and cell phones are on silent and please do join in welcoming our guests. [applause] >> hello and welcome.
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you are going to enjoy this book. you're going to enjoy hearing nick talk about it. i want to get right to it because of a lot of questions and afraid i might not get to all of them. so you subtitled your book the birth of ingenuity. can you explain what this meant in franklin's era air and is ta modern equipment, i thought made entrepreneurship but that didn't seem to exactly fit. i'm hoping you will tell me. >> thank you, carol. they goes back to england in the 17th century. 1660, 1670, 1680 which is when franklin's father joe site and his vocals are working in london as buyers of silk, also active in nonconformist religious assemblies. at that particular point the word ingenuity had come into
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fraction in england. ingenuity is a word that it been around for centuries but you start to see it become a prevalent theme in english poetry and scientific writing about 1660, about the same. as the royal society and sir isaac newton was hard to make his first discoveries. what it signified ingenuity was a kind of combination of things. somebody who worked closely, clocks this were scientific instrument makers. really it's all about the coming
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together of their high sophisticated skills in crass, watches and so on, and also more abstract intellectual endeavor. >> by the time our young benjamin cain onto the scene, this had been a standard for quite a while, is that correct? >> you can see a lot of this as part of the history of the british and dutch revolution. effects what frankel frank wasn the 1740s was he's trying to replicate in america the kind of scientific industrial culture that started to come in existence in england circa 1660. >> what role did his father play in shaping his approach to both his profession, but also his
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attitude towards social and political ideas? >> rankling speaks with greatest respect to his father. it's pretty clear when one, there were times of tension between the. there's a long time of about five years in the late 1730s, early 1740s when there's no correspondence which survive between rankling and rest of the family and my suspicion is that they been destroyed but joe site was a very important figure. he was born 1657, in other words, one just before the death of oliver cromwell. so joe site for some of the puts frank was in touch with the world of england in the third quarter of the 17th century, which is a crucial point. josiah had originally come from village, country village but he train as -- josiah had trained
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in london. what it means is not only was a connected with this culture ingenuity on talking about but also of course he was connected with london. london later would become a very great passion of franklin. this was back before he was born. this london connection which is important with something that went back to his parents and to his uncle. >> it's so interesting to me because most people who write about franklin, write about franklin in the prime of his career, that is, they write about him as a diplomat, about a political figure, they write about it as a political theorist that you have gone back to franklin in his becoming years. what made you want to do that? >> i one of those people whose most interested in somebody's
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early life. one of the first grown-up books i've read when i was 11 or 12 west winston churchill's early life, my early life which is published in 1930 which is a wonderful book. full of wonderful stories about his career and very funny stories about his schooling. that's one thing. the point is as far as i can see, the kind fte the funny moment in franklin's life, the biggest turning points of his life was the winter of 1746-47 he was just about to turn 41. that's when he began his intellectual experiment. this book is about how does he get to that? up to that point he's a successful printer, successful journalist, successful social figure in philadelphia, highly respected and 70 becomes a world-famous artist into a three years. how did he get to that point that he could be the founder of american science in a way that no one else was? that we just go back inside what
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was it in his background, his family, his circumstances and boston and philadelphia that permitted him to emerge in that way? at sequential kind give it. because you so successful in science, he had the confidence and momentum to propel himself forward to politics as well. >> he does find mentors and patrons along the way. it's not simply that he rose all on his own, as i think almost no one does actually. who are some of -- why to define these people who would be so -- the only equivalent i know of is alexander hamilton who the people of st. croix raised the money. sort of the go fund me activity of the 18th century, to send them to school in america. they were his fan club in
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effect. how does franklin win people over like that? >> the people he went over were there in portland in pennsylvania the time but you have forgotten, at least he didn't say much about this and is autobiography. >> i don't mean to interrupt you but the thing i loved about your book is you make the point, some of us will try to teach the autobiography, point out that it's not the god's truth throughout. but your wonderful i think in the book at saying there is a gap, or i wonder why he didn't talk about this. and then giving an analysis that tells us why franklin chooses to create his life in that autobiography the way he does. i think that's a tremendous
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strength of the book. >> with regard to the patrons, the thing is this. there were two patrons in pennsylvania he was especially close, james logan and andrew hamilton. hamilton is in no way related to alexander hamilton. logan is scarcely mentioned. logan was a character and is having a bit -- he was a quaker from northern ireland and he was a self-made can self thought me and became the kind of right-hand man. logan was an exceptionally intelligent man, taught himself latin, greek, hebrew and left behind papers for the historical study at pennsylvania. anyone who goes into that soon comes across logan. he hasn't received the sort of credit he deserves. there's no question.
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he was terribly involved in franklin's developer. franklin and he were brought together partly rooted by the fact that both respected each other's intellect. the leftist between franklin and logan even from early days when franco was only about 25 shows logan respectively. logan needed a printer for printing his own books which franklin did, but also they should, interest in science and engineering and so on, and in defense of the front two. logan was deleted from autobiography that good reasons. by that time the logan family, not logan himself, he was long since dead, were on the other side of franklin and pennsylvania politics. the oven and was andrew hamilton. he's mentioned a little bit more but he was this kind of foulmouthed heavy drinking, very aggressive trial lawyer is probably the finest leather in a comment litanies -- finest
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lawyer in the colonies. a case that established freedom of the press, landmark case, still refer to in media law in america. he was the attorney in that case. he was also speak of the house of representatives in pennsylvania. he and franklin became very close. he wasn't really a of the people. he was a real estate speculator, a successful machine politician but he had franklin became very close. when hampton died, franklin had a problem. he had to find other patrons. you couldn't survive in 18th century without patrons and friends. it would be that kind of a world. >> now, franklin comes across as often pretty naïve, which is forgiving and a young man. but can you cite a few examples of his naïveté? i always have a mental picture of santa claus and franklin, you
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know, going like this, both of them wise and clever. here we have this young man who really makes some terrible mistakes in judgment. can you share just a couple of those instances? >> he has a very interesting thing. franklin had a lot of very close friends. he was attracted to people are a bit quirky. one of his best friends was a lie think is a passing character, james ralph, and ralph was probably english but ended up in philadelphia, a little older than franklin. ralph was an amateur poet. he was quite an accomplished poet and he was determined to make a career of himself in london. effectively franklin, he sponged off franklin and franklin ended up winning a lot of money. ralph was completely unreliable at this stage of his life. that was a big mistake. there were other instances where
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rankling was far too trusting and he cut himself into trouble on number of locations. essentially that was, too trusting. and also didn't really understand the political maneuvers going on around in pennsylvania. one of the key point in his growing up and becoming richer was that he started to understand the politics of the pennsylvania far more than he had. >> we know that he went to england where he, i think the euphemism is, sowed his wild oats. but you tell us his stay in london was much more than carousing. can you explain cuny what happened here was, it was in boston a number of years ago and those at the massachusetts historical side and some of the told me about a professor. he said to me he had told the
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students that he thought this was a crucial time of franklin's like, is 18 months in london. i had reached the conclusion that hearing this, i assumed -- some time i would write a book about but i agree. i decided to look into it. the key point was this, franklin was what, he was 19 when he went to london the first time. there were several things. first of all he was kind of graduate school of the printing tray. franklin had been educated and trained as a printer in boston, but nothing like the current input his skill and expertise that you haven't london. think about integrating. engraving huge and important in the 18th century if you make maps. there were no competent engravers in the colonies. in london franklin could meet very high caliber engravers. he also could be scientist and he did.
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he met the founder of the british museum. franklin wrote a letter to an offering a chunk of asbestos. franklin brought this chunk of asbestos over from america. it's this little asbestos first and he was thinking might be able to offer it to someone in london. and he wrote saying which are like this asbestos first? franklin intended to sell it to him, which he did. that asbestos first still in a natural history museum in london. that was the collection of the founder of the museum. that's very important so because sloan really was, sloan was like number two scientist in great britain. great botanist of course. that's what he same as for and also the author of a suburban journal of his journeys to the west indies which franklin was influenced by. franklin vote his own journal, heavily influenced by slow.
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these are extraordinary connections of a young man of that age to make. he really took to london at a time that is really interesting. basically the time of the eggers opera -- beggars. franklin plunged into the world and he knew people who knew those particular artists. >> wow. now, on page 186 you tell us the franklin was acutely aware -- it really struck me, acutely aware of of the sins. and i thought -- [laughing] so what were his sins and what does his consciousness of them -- >> he gives a list. he listed the various errors. for one thing, really silly, he
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had taken on a commission to collect debt in pennsylvania on behalf of a silversmith from rhode island. he did collect debt but, unfortunately, franklin dipped into the money himself and this is some of the money he went to other friends. that wasn't a good idea. at the time there was a shortage of bullion in the colonies, not very much in the way of coinage. your word was your bond. if you showed your untrustworthy you what a big problem. fortunately, mr. byrne had been a very forgiving soul and you let franklin to repay the debt after many years but had a paid interest. he did attempt to seduce james ralph mistress in london in 1735. that was was a very clever. a few of the things he did. of course he felt unhappy but the way he treated deborah who later became his wife because he had kind of a painting or when he went to london and she ended
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up making a very bad marriage to catch epic enough to be a bigamist at that took off probably to the west indies. a member of these things. what i don't see an franklin is what you might call puritan guild. i don't think the puritans had much to do with franklin. >> you can be jewish. >> indeed. universal economics. i also suspect, there is some evidence, there were quite a lot of things which he did. >> but what does it tell us about franklin that he lists them and he's concerned about them? he writes them down. >> i think this leads onto something which is a a really important thing of the book which has been with his success and failure. we think of franklin as being a great success. here was a man who made an enormous success and sciences, world-famous writer, politician. he was born in 1706.
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he died 1790, so he was 84, 30 years older than the average life expectancy at the time. a big success. what is the thanks i point out he also writes about failure. franklin was very frightened with billy. he went around with almost phobic fear of failure and destitution. he writes a lot about of the people who did feel. he was fascinated by the question of how did he of such excess when some of his friends had failure or died a drink or whatever. he was looking, examining his own conduct to see traces of failure inside himself. >> you have i think the unique understanding of the central themes that run through the autobiography. can you talk about that? i've never seen the autobiography analyze as well as you do in your books.
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>> at this point its success or failure, critical. one of the things, if you come to this as an englishman with the kind of general english type of literary culture, there are some things that are very striking of the autobiography that american might not necessarily see. one of the things is icy dickens evolving. dickens is really the only and was often i can think of who was influenced by franklin and red franklin. thomas carlyle certainly was, and in david copperfield you can find actually echoes of franklin. i think it was inspired by franklin's life. the importance of that is in dickens there's a lot about fear of destitution, the fear sliding down, the fear of rivers goes back to dickinson said charge. i can see something about in franklin. the other thing i can see in the autobiography something which i
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take a lot of time on which is the connections between franklin and william hogarth. the great cycle of engravings that hogarth produced, industry and idleness, on the one hand, of industrial practice, and unity i don't practice who does exactly the reverse and ends up hanging. i see franklin's autobiography as they can both. >> so it is either/or. >> yes. very worried about the fact he might've slid down the skill. there were long times when he had that been secured and yet seeing his friends fail and that's come gives a whole series of examples in this book of people who had failed and he's -- why have they failed and i succeeded? at the back of this is sliding down into this sort of come into
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the world of the poor. >> i knew that you had a connection to the freudian institute. i went for two years here in new york to the freudian institute, and realize that i could not possibly be a therapist because i would never shut up long enough for the patient to tell me anything. but how has that, that certain has influenced the biographies that i had written and the kinds of things that i am attuned to that i think sometimes colleagues or not. how has it influenced you? would you say you would not have understood franklin's character as well for his motivations if you had that studied? >> i was on the board of the museum with a -- i was on the board for a few years at the
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thing was we see that experience, i tended not to push psycho analysts too far in the book because i'm aware just have to find the subject is and how many qualms and doubts some people have about it. it can become an interminable. there are 435 psycho analyst in great britain and easily the all into end they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. [laughing] the point is there's only really one place in the book where this appears, and that is to do with franklin's reading as a teenager. he was astonishing precocious in the amount of breath and the depth of his reading of all kinds of subjects but especially what you might call technical
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philosophy. really heavy-duty technical philosophy of the kind one would study today at harvard or cambridge. so much so that when he was, he wrote his own philosophical treatise which showed he had great authority to absorb the work of john locke and other philosophers. the fact he read so voraciously as a deeply and so widely and understood so much, at that young age, by the the age of 1r so, and what i thought about wa was, anna freud has a chapter on intellectual of puberty and the point she makes is adolescence are capable often, astonishing feats of intellectual achievement. we can all remember them when we at school we could do equations of things. we could have a chance of doing now, that sort of stuff. >> i could --
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>> the point, this intellectualization is really intense, focused on road after an election subject the kind franklin had come as a phenomena and she attributes to a defense mechanism, to defend oneself against powerful instincts and adolescents. that's the only time in the book where i use -- the other thing of course, it gives you since there's more going on inside people that meets the eye which is essentially true of the autobiography. >> right, right. so let's get to the crucial question here. would you characterize franklin as destined to be a revolutionary? was he by nature a radical? or do you think he was in many ways a conservative? >> there was really no reason to be a radical really until the
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17th \70{l1}s{l0}\'70{l1}s{l0} -- 1770s. during the 1720 and 30 there was no reason to be a radical revolution because most powerful people in pennsylvania shared his views and beliefs. they were all committed to religious freedom. they were committed to low taxation. taxes very low because there was no militia because they were quakers. they were committed to allowing integration thickets of water to fill up the territory not least so they could take a rant. all the sort of thing. there was no reason for it to disprove any of this. what happened later on was essentially as the 1740s and 50s with my franklin became more and more committed to his goal of seeing and ingenious america, an american with an infrastructure of scientific and other institutions of learning and so forth and a prosperous
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america and also america was expanding westward into the ohio valley especially. that only became an issue with the british if he came to be that could be done with the british empire. >> the proclamation of 1753. >> exactly. even if that been no boston tea party eventually the would of been a confrontation about western expansion. you can see as the letter goes by he gets more and more exasperate with the british and he more and more convinces himself that america can't fulfill the aspirations from the british empire. there was one interesting moment we went to ireland. franklin went to ireland in 71 for 72. the irish looked upon finns also think sort of similar situation to america in relation to the british empire. indeed legally they were. close similarities legally. franklin went to ireland and he was horrified by what he saw.
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he was horrified by the poverty of ireland is also horrified by realizing the extent to which island was a subject nation. that visit was also a problem because begin to actually you couldn't really expect american to set up while it was inside the sort empire they the kept d and such a subject state. by the time after the boston tea party, he was treated appallingly badly by the british government and gradually he could see the really was no prospect of using the bridge. he disappeared back to america in the early part of 70 city five just as war was about to break out. >> you write that franklin at last found his calling for his vocation in science. how and why did this happen? he was a printer, and i appreciate that there was a connection between science and
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craft like this, but how did he become the scientific genius of america? and would you argue that this is how we should best remember him? that is, as a scientist rather than as a diplomat or political leader? this is really what makes him important to the ages? >> personally i think science is most important thing. not everyone would agree with that. my feed is made up of the cheapest could have been performed of the people but there was something special about his turn to science. he had been reading scientific books for a long time. he immersed himself in the scientific textbooks available from your which a been coming over from about 1730, which had an excellent collection us we read a lot of stuff. he had friends in the iron and steel industry. iron and steel through his
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fireplace, interested engineering, that was a critical element. he had a logical methodical mind. he was fitted with logan what interest in electricity and logan was interested in before franklin was. all of these things prepared in but the really crucial point was autumn of 1746. by this time franklin had a printing business that was doing very well. .. his wife was pregnant and then he said in 1746 he went back to boston for a business
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trip and as i show in the book he discovered what we read, a scientific paper translated from french into english which had appeared in london and now was available in the colonies and this described the latest electrical experiments being done in america at the crucial moment. he had some apparatus which he acquired from london in philadelphia and when he got back to philadelphia, all these things came together and he had theoretical grounding from his textbooks, he had the apparatus, he'd seen the account of the electrical experiments. his great aunts answer questions and another important point was he had a lot of friends in philadelphia who were, could form a team. there was a man called smith, who was a silversmith.
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he had frank thomas hopkins who was a lawyer who was also a methodical kind of person and he became another assistant. they all came together to form a team and started rapidly making progress. first of all, they replicated the experiments and started going forward . at a time when the europeans had produced a lot of interesting empirical work but they didn't have an account for working electricity as franklin did and it all came together early 1747 so that was a great moment in which franklin discovered, he knew he was clever, he'd always known he was clever but he'd spent 20 years in the weekly grind of producing newspapers and suddenly now he's got the freedom of leisure and confidence to move forward rapidly and he makes rapid progress indeed and soon james is writing to him saying we you already surpassed what we were doing and in the letters franklin writes in 1748, you can feel
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a sense of confidence and excitement and enthusiasm >> how in fact did the europeans come to know about what franklin had done, what he had discovered? >> they had a friend in london called peter tomlinson, a quaker in textile and through collinson, there had been a channel of communication opened up between a healthy and the royal society in london and what was happening was boston zoologists were starting to communicate with the royal society, trying to get articles into their journal and they haven't had much success in doing that but opened a channel of communication so as soon as franklin darted to write up his work, they would go to tomlinson would start circulating among the members of the royal society. then they quickly got to paris because he was in close
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correspondence with the royal society so he and his friends as soon as they were aware of for example franklin erie lightning was identical, they tried it themselves in 1756 so it was rapid communication, all the more rapid because of the war of 1748 so there was clear, free and open trade policy back and forth across the americas . >> it's interesting that you said at the beginning of this statement there were lots of people who could have done what he did politically, diplomatically but i think about franklin and his diplomatic career and then i think about john adams. that really, i'm not sure and it may be because his reputation preceded him as a man of genius and science, but i think you sell him a little shortin that assumption .
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>> diplomacy in paris was a situation but it was only possible because the french had such huge regard for him and a lot of that came out of his scientificwork . that was how he made his name in france. he often say the greatest country in the world was great britain and havethe biggest army and all that . and russia, exactly. russia had the biggest army, it didn't have the largest army. there were certain things about britain that were special but it by no means have the greatestbut the french , it was the science that won him the respect in the course he was fighting the british which the french were happy about too. diplomacy certainly had to be done. but again, you must always remember it was the french navy that won the
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revolutionary war . >> do you think there's anything left now to do about franklin? you think we now have a sort of complete understanding or a complete enough understanding of him that we can sort of close the book on him or is this something more you would think of? >> there's still so much controversy around franklin there's arguments for his religious beliefs, about what role he played in politics . so i think, i don't think we can closethe book . i wanted to write it because i felt like i could seriously add value and it was the early period, once you move beyond 1750, the source material about franklin explodes to the extent it becomes unmanageable.
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if you say for example the yale project, the franklin papers, they began that project in 1952. they started the first work on the first one in 54 and it wasn't published in 1959 but i think it was 43, came out in 2017. which means that you've got 70 year projects just to put his papers together. >> that's what i wasalways happy to work on hamilton . >> and it's a bit like painting a railroad, by the time they got to the end it got to start again in the beginning.they now have to go back to the beginning because more material has appeared. there's a sense in which one has got to be exhausted but a sense in which it's the period that's easiest to work on was the early one . >> tell us where you found the sources . >> some in britain, some in
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america. there's certainly a lot of material in england about the franklin family in england before franklin's birth. a lot of material,are more than i expected . there's important material in massachusetts which is the books of his uncle dan which, those are important and they've not been started as much as they should bake, they're quite remarkable . his uncle was a talented individual. the historical society of pennsylvania is a treasure trove because they have these wonderful collections of letters by quaker merchants which go back far into the 18th century and what they do is, if you look at those books in parallel with franklin's autobiography, you can take a scene that franklin describes and work out what else is happening at the same time.
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the weather conditions, all kinds of things and sometimes you can find out more about the characters that franklin describes. pennsylvania has the most astonishing collections and some of the finest that i've seen. and people are still working on them. they're not by any means complete. >> not to put you on the spot but what's next? >> good question, actually. it's a question offeasibility more than anything else . it's what's feasible, not what's available. one possibility is to go all about franklin, i've been thinking about it but you become committed to writing a multi-volume life and could see me into my dotage. >> i have to tell you that after i finished my first book, i had a job interview and they said carol, what do you plan to do next?
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to which i replied rest a lot . i did not get that job. so i have learned that you have to have somewhere, someone is going to ask you what your next project is going to be. i would love to see you carry franklin further , because i think your take on his wife he was such a good diplomat is one that most people don't embrace. i haven't thought about it. >> your competing with probably the best ever written about franklin. and that is and astonish legally good book . not one i would try to duplicate. >> let us -- these are your questions. i feel enormously powerful at this moment because i get to decide what will be asked.
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did franklin have any interest in marriage when he was younger? what was his relationship with the women in his life like? >> marriage. he never actually legally married because she was already married. >> details, details. >>bigamy seems to be quite common because it was easy to get away with in those days . marriage, well. his account of marriage is not really romantic. he wasn't a big romantic, frankly. he didn't conceal the fact that he had a series of escapades before he was married and william franklin his son indulged in some. the women in his life. he seems to have gotten more interest as he got older. the mostentertaining anecdotes are from the paris years , long after this book.
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in the. i'm writing about, it's scant material. one thing i have done is i've tried to rehabilitate some of the women characters and in particularly deborah franklin. the material on debra flagellin is scanned, no one gathered her letting letters or belongings. we have things that survived from people with far less importance but. >> for women. >> what i've tried to do is try to find more out about her family and where she came from. i tried to rehabilitate the women he tried to seduce in london,bring them more into the story . this was mrs. t who was james ralph's girlfriend.he tried to seduce her in london and i thought i read her as a character because franklin does mention at some length and he obviously deemed to have her stuck in his mind so
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i tried to figure out exactly who she was and there's a section where i think she may have been called jenny wilkins to give you some idea of who she was. one needs to pay respect to the other people in the story. if you put franklin too much front and center, you forget he was a team player and there's a sense in which you're not doing justice, they shouldn't be seen as people who are secondary players in the great drama. they're entitled to their own respect, so to speak. >> i have read where out of allthe founding fathers , franklin would fit in to today's society the easiest. what are your, i always tell people the dead i have no idea but i'll put it to you. what are your thoughts? >> it's a bit anachronistic but there is no question he had the broadest experience because the nature of his
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experience is as a printer and as somebody who traveled to london and all these different places and done so many different things. a journalist and publisher. he had that variety and flexibility and he was prepared to change his opinion and he did change opinions so certainly i think he would be able to fit in more easily anywhere than the founding fathers. obviously from any society. and he was a bit adventurous. to sail off to paris when most people are thinking of retiring to the gulf or wherever, i had golf courses interrupts in pennsylvania. you got back, he was a great courageous chap who was prepared to be flexible so that opinion: he would be in more easily than some of others. i think george washington would fit in. because washington was a professional soldier and again, there were certain aspects of his life as a soldier which he would find
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it, he would not find it difficult these days to fit in to a british or american military environment. >> how about health and? >> i'm not sure about him. >> you have to wrap your answer to me. >> i understand that franklin had a fraught relationship with his sister. it is developed inhis early years ? >> i wouldn't say, occasionally brought. the material, there's obviously an excellent book about jill laporte, by jamie jim which is really excellent book and you might see it as a companion piece. >> they were some periods where the relationship was brought . particularly during the civil rate of great awakening in the 1740s when she appears to have become a deputy of george whitefield the preacher who franklin was friendly with but didn't necessarily agree with there
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was tension there. from a religious point ofview , he was an evangelical christian. so there was tension there but it seems to have been tied even to smooth over a relatively smoothly. the thing was they were to some extent driven together in later life because they were the survivors . by 17, franklin famously was one of 17 children. by 1767, all of them were dead except in madrid, not only that but all the closest friends were dead. the sad thing, mention the fact that he was very and had to endure. he had a whole series of very close friends in philadelphia he knew her. and almost all of them were dead well before the revolution so he had many new friends. >>. >> how did franklin develop his notion of public virtue is so much more important
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than private morality? >>. >> obviously it was very important. whether he necessarily moved up to his moral ideals is another matter but who does? >> the public virtue, it was something that he fully kind of took on board from the kind of discourse of virtue is common in 18th-century but the difference was he did try to put into practice in philadelphia. he was always a devoted reader of the roman, greek and roman classics albeit in translation. roman heroes, socrates and he was fascinated by socrates so that kind of view of public virtue was one people he absorbed. he did have on morality, he fought really when you think of things to fight him being, he was very competitive, very tough in business.
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he was a formidable competitor and he and his principal arrivals and help you try to repack theycould put each other down but i wouldn't call that actually, that's not a moral failing . >> you mentioned that franklin was a gracious reader. where and how was he educated. >> he was a very good question. we know that he was educated at whatbecame of school . i think that was called south latin school and went to a thing called writing school which was not a school to learn creative writing by the school to learn a graffiti and a school to teach you how to be a tradesman or to run a shop . apart from that, he was taken by his father in his own court because helearned to read well before he went to the latin school and i think it must have been his father and his uncle, uncle benjamin . uncle benjamin was himself an excellent follower so it would have come from that.
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there's alsothe question as to his father's own collection . so we don't really know as much as we would like but it must have been essentially in the family home. >> franklin was so interested in engineering. why did he care so little for innovating in the printing process for improving the printed quality of his paper? >> he did. what he did in fact was took part in the formation of a paper industry in pennsylvania. until about 1730 , essentially they were importing their paper from england which is obviously expensive and the led type they had to import because there wasn't any land on the eastern seaboard . the paper as i said, he had to find new sources of local paper formed these alliances and partnerships with local papers on the creeks and the streams running down into the river.
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and he would collect the rags at a shop in philadelphia and they would take it out to the paper mill. he currently, that's true. he did not innovate in the technical process of the printing press but not many people did. it was only much later in the 19th century that people started inventing the lender type machines so not many people did. >> this is an interesting question. were the scientific areas) warned others not to explore? >> i'm not sure there were. i must go back to the addition and have another look. >> walter isaacson biography indicates that franklin changed from the supporter of the king and parliament to being disillusioned and insisting on independence. is this what you found? >> that's part of my previous
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book about the process by which the british came to fight americans. but yes, that essentially it. that's what i was thinking about earlier. he gradually came to see america was not simply uninterested in american aspirations, it might be hostile to them and when he came to see that , his skepticism about the british empire deepened. >> with accomplishments you think franklin was most proud of? >> it depends which part of his life. by the end of his life he would have been most proud of his work in paris and his role in the constitution with pennsylvania as well. so it depends on which part of his life. you were talking about writing, franklin was proud of his writing. he was a competent writer but i don't think he was regarded as a fit occupation for a grown man to do all alone.
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>> and yet he supported his friend who was a poet for all that time. >> but james albert had a cataclysmic lead to disastrous career. it is quite entertaining but rather sad. what happened was in the1720s , the key poets of the age, the key writers, alexander pope, jonathan swift were all tourists. james ralph had this brilliant idea ofbecoming a wig poets in support of the government . so he published this astonishingly rude satirical poem called sawnee attacking alexander pope and the rick language he used was incredibly rude. the beggar's opera was the most popular thing on the london stage and gave pope
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much more popular than franklin so pope and his colleagues gathered their supporters together and they began a campaign of vilification of james ralph in which james ralph's career collapsed. they went around calling him jimmy many hammer, this self worshiping prayed and had this abuse which went on through the newspapers for months and months, wrecked his career as a poet . he then became a friend of henry fielding, the novelist. and ralph rehabilitated himself by becoming henry fielding's assistant, an actual manager in the theater. and i did talk about this in the beginning of one of the chapters because it's interesting, james ralph got so close to some of these fascinating and important centers of english literature and franklin saul ralph as a cautionary tale. the fate that befell ralph in london is what might have
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befallen franklin if he stayed in london and tried to become a man of letters . >> and last question, where did franklin learn diplomacy? >> that's a very good question. his talent for it did develop. i think one source for it would have been the fact that he was involved in diplomacy with the native americans in the 1750s because the native americans were becoming more difficult and fraught in pennsylvania so that was one possibility. he was an retrograde of history in sorts, he would have learned something there. his motive in pennsylvania wouldn't have reached much of the skills he needed. he would have observed things in london because during his period he would have met and did me the various diplomats in london between 1757 and 1775 when he came home is very impressive to some extent, he did just had a
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kind of native, but you have to remember he became an active diplomat and had a great experience of having been a newspaper editor and journalist and if you're a resident journalist, you do have the scope to acquire an enormous knowledge of human nature because you meet so many different kinds of people and you have to have a thick skin, the resilience so some of those skills he would have transferredover from journalism . >> thank you so much. i urge you to read this book. [applause] >> very huge thank you to nick bunker, carol bergen for moderating. join us for the book signing in our smith gallery.pick up a copy of the book and learn more about young benjamin franklin. thank you all for joining us.
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>> 2019 is about to begin and book tv is returning to our nonfiction roots for in-depth . our monthly three-hour interview and the column with an author who has written books on policy, science, history, biography and more . we kick off the new year with beth selling author david corn, washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine will discuss all his books including his most recent. russian roulette, the inside story of putin's war on america and the electionof donald trump , co-authored with michael is a cough. on sunday, january 5 from 12 to 3 pm eastern, mister korn will join us live to answer your questions. for more information. tvs in that program live with david corn onjanuary 6 .
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>> here are some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to amazon. topping the list is becoming, former first lady michelle obama's memoir. after that, it's a collection of the late columnist charles amherst essays and speeches titled the point of it all. followed by whose boat is this boat. a picture book on president, and his response to hurricane florence by the staff of the late show with stephen colbert. then it's carol leftovers memoir educated, about growing up in the idaho mountains and her introduction to formal education at age 17. and wrapping up our look at some of the best telling nonfiction books according to amazon is no harare's look at human history, sapiens. some of these authors have appeared on book tv and you can watch them online at
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>> over the past 20 years, but tv has covered thousands of author events and book festivals. here a portion of the recent program. >> then, under s thompson saw an opening. through the remaining crowd and wounded protesters, he sprinted to the blackstone the cops near the entrance back. i live here he screamed, i'm paying $50 a day. he was shoved into the door, he pulled out his room key and way awaited overhead until someone let him was through into the lobby area he changed the door, his eyes burned. his gut but he was unharmed. he went across and held it carefully to his face to soak out here ãand he sat on the bed, his legs crossed. his body was shaking. he couldn't write. none of it made sense. none of the police had known he was a member of the press of the women were political officials and the number of the nonviolent young protesters werecampaign
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staffers . then that was the horrific point. you're later looking back on it you would write his the afternoon my position and wanted to be anyway. they were powerful enough to bring anybody who bought about being in their way but i learned in chicago was that the police armed the united states government was capable of hiring vengeful bugs to break the rules we all thought we were operating under . the violence he just witnessed was clearly state sanctioned, political and had originatedwithin the core electoral process of the democratic system , the primary now threatened. in this sense, we were its authors and performers and intended audience. all along the violence had been with us , was us. a song for america we been singing from the start. and it was just after 9 pmbut the stockyard amphitheater, the balloting for the nomination was about to begin . constance still had his trespass. it had been around his neck the entire time and he plans to use for something other than an invitation to a
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beating . >> watch this and any of our programs that book type authors name in the search bar at the top of the page. >>. >> you're watching book tv, did you know you can also listen on the go and download the radio from your device. on the weekends, click on the c-span two button to hear everything airing on book tv live. >> . >> book tv recently attended a party for author and syndicated columnist ann coulter in washington. she met with guests, gave brief remarks and sign copies of her book , resistance is futile . >>. >> i work for maureen dowd. >>


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