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Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement$
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Alan Houston

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300124477

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300124477.001.0001

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. Union

. Union

Chapter:
(p.147) 4. Union
Source:
Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement
Author(s):

Alan Houston

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300124477.003.0004

This chapter describes Benjamin Franklin's thought on unions in America. Franklin had greater faith in voluntary association than Hume and might have suggested a different outcome to Hume's story about neighbors draining a meadow. He had organized 10,000 men to defend Pennsylvania without benefit of government. The Association, like all of Franklin's organizations, was defined by the way it regulated the conduct of its members. Franklin never doubted the power of rules and procedures to influence outcomes, which was especially evident when institutions failed. He expressed this insight with startling clarity in his afterthoughts about the British Empire. Franklin approached the British Empire with the same projecting public spirit that he brought to everyday life in Philadelphia. Independent states, like isolated individuals, are weak, and improvement requires cooperation.

Keywords:   Benjamin Franklin, unions in America, voluntary association, members, institutions

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