Franklin’s Printing Network

At long last, I have read Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Network: Disseminating Virtue in Early America by Ralph Frasca (University of Missouri Press, 2006).

The author covers his topic well: the various people Franklin worked with in the course of repeated attempts to start subordinate businesses around North America.

The importance of bookkeeping, especially keeping track of payments owed and collecting those funds, seems more important than I realized: in the several partnerships that failed, the inability to keep proper records and to collect overdue payments appears often.

I have one overall complaint, and that is the author’s repeating of his main thesis – that Franklin was intending to impart virtue in the North American population. I’m skeptical that this was more important to Franklin than financial security and prosperity. We are reminded a few too many times that this was what Franklin had in mind — a perfectly fine theory, repeated too often.

Maybe I found these repetitions tiresome because the author stated his case most eloquently, early on: “[Franklin] was perhaps most deeply affected by witnessing characters in various stages of squandering their wealth and potential while neglecting their responsibilities.”

This is not a first or only Franklin book I would recommend, but it’s a fine piece of work and useful contribution.

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