The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, published in October 2014, features an entry on Benjamin Franklin authored by IWP research professor Barbara Billauer.
Prof. Billauer, who studies scientific statecraft issues at IWP, has given a lecture at the Institute on Benjamin Franklin and how he used his scientific background to advance American statecraft.
An abstract of her entry appears below. Please click here to view the entire article on the Wiley Online Library.
Benjamin Franklin was the most well-known American publisher, scientist, author, diplomat, political figure and econo-political theorist of his day. In 1776, he became the first American ambassador to France and he is considered the first American diplomat. As a political theorist, Franklin championed the role of civic and personal virtues. Best known for his innovative community activities (e.g., creation of the Post Office, fire department, lending library) and technological inventions (e.g., bifocals and the lighting rod), Franklin’s brilliant statesmanship led to treaties of comity and commerce with France that funded the Revolution. He also negotiated the Treaty of Paris of 1783 resulting in Britain’s recognition of the United States as a sovereign power, and collaborated on the Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States. Franklin’s contributions, however, transcended the merely pragmatic, the amusing (i.e., Poor Richard’s Almanac and satires written under assumed names), the abstractly theoretical (e.g., positing the mechanism of electrical charges), and the diplomatic.