Benjamin Franklin The Religious Life of a Founding Father Thomas S. Kidd

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
16 Oct 2018
ISBN:
9780300240177
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
288 pages: 235mm

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.

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 Roost of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America.