Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study examines Franklin's writings on global imperialism in light of his writings on the different racial and ethnic groups inhabiting lands held by the British empire in North America, Asia, and the Caribbean. Franklin's ideas about trade and different peoples who are globally dispersed help to address the question, what did Franklin learn about imperialism that finally prompted him to support rebellion against Great Britain? The question has preoccupied historians of Franklin's life and works for generations. The answer lies in the fabric of early modern liberalism in Britain and its articulation (and critique) by one of the foremost social and political philosophers of his day, Benjamin Franklin.