This chapter describes Benjamin Franklin's thought on population in America. Population has a bearing on many crucial features of modern life such as laws and customs governing reproduction, and the size of budgets for schools, hospitals, roads, and police. The politics of improvement was based on the belief that humans can shape their world through judgment and choice. Political arithmetic sought to identify limits to agency, the boundaries that separated what was contingent from what was necessary. Improvement required a keen appreciation of the limits and possibilities of population growth. Franklin reflected on immigration as well as natural increase in his observations. The importance of population helped spur the emerging discipline of political arithmetic, or the art of reasoning by figures, upon things relating to government.
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