"A labor of love balanced by thoughtful criticism. There is nothing like it."—American Historical Review
"This work, in the classic multivolume 'life and times' genre, is especially valuable. Highly recommended."—ChoiceNamed "one of the best books of 2006" by The New York Sun
"Veteran Franklin scholar Lemay offers a highly detailed examination of one of the most fascinating of America's founders."—Publishers Weekly
"Lemay's final output will do for the popular interest in our revolution and early founding what Douglas Southall Freeman's magisterial Lee's Lieutenants did for our fixation on the Civil War. . . . I can't wait for Mr. Lemay's next volumes."—Washington Times
"The authoritative compendium of Franklin's remarkable exploits and contributions."—Times Higher Education Supplement
"Lemay's magnificent opus manages to be accessible and interesting for the general reader while also valuable for the specialist. . . . For readers who want to luxuriate in the life and times of a fascinating man and who enjoy seeing how an expert historian examines evidence and reaches conclusions, this biography is indispensable. Highly recommended."—Library Journal (starred review)
"This colossal study . . . does for Franklin what Dumas Malone did for Thomas Jefferson. In sheer comprehensiveness, it surpasses any previous (and, one imagines, future) treatment. When completed, it promises to provide just about as complete a factual account of Franklin's life as it is possible to put together."—Journal of American History
Described by Carl Van Doren as "a harmonious human multitude," Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American of his time, of perhaps any time. His life and careers were so varied and successful that he remains, even today, the epitome of the self-made man. Born into a humble tradesman's family, this adaptable genius rose to become an architect of the world's first democracy, a leading light in Enlightenment science, and a major creator of what has come to be known as the American character. Journalist, musician, politician, scientist, humorist, inventor, civic leader, printer, writer, publisher, businessman, founding father, philosopher, Franklin is a touchstone for America's egalitarianism.
Volume 2 takes Franklin from his marriage in 1730 to his retirement as a printer at the beginning of 1748, examining the mysteries of the illegitimate William Franklin's birth and mother and Franklin's increasing civic activities—starting the Library Company in Philadelphia in 1731, forming Pennsylvania's first volunteer fire company, and becoming an advocate for a clean Philadelphia environment. J. A. Leo Lemay assesses Franklin's numerous writings, attributing to him for the first time a deistic Indian speech, remarking on his use of the second African American persona in journalism, and analyzing his publishing sensation of 1747, The Speech of Miss Polly Baker. These belletristic works are complemented by Franklin's religious, political, and scientific writings, which he produced prodigiously.
J. A. Leo Lemay (1935-2006) was H. F. du Pont Winterthur Professor of English at the University of Delaware. He wrote extensively on early American literature and is the author of numerous books, including The American Dream of Captain John Smith.