"An Enlightened People, with Respect to our Political Interests"

This is a drawing of a blank, open journal and a quill.

The following excerpt comes from Benjamin Franklin's correspondence in 1783. He attributes Enlightenment education to the success of the rising American society as the Revolutionary War comes to an end. While his conclusions are overly optimistic, he writes in comparison to the level of education he has seen in Europe.

 

We are more thoroughly an enlightened people, with respect to our political interests, than perhaps any other under Heaven. Every man among us reads, and is so easy in his circumstances as to have leisure for conversations of improvement and for acquiring information. Our domestic misunderstandings, when we have them, are of small extent, though monstrously magnified by your microscopic newspapers. He who judges from them that we are on the point of falling into anarchy, or returning to Britain, is like one who being shown some spots in the sun should fancy that the whole disk would soon be overspread with them, and that there would be an end of daylight. The great body of intelligence among our people surrounds and overpowers our petty dissensions, as the sun's great mass of fire diminishes and destroys his spots. 

 

Source:

The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, published in 1857, page 481: Benjamin Franklin to David Hartley.

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