Jill Lepore on Franklin’s Sister, Jane

  • Seeing in the title of Congressman Paul Ryan’s economic plan for cutting the deficit an allusion to an essay by Benjamin Franklin, Jill Lepore (The New York Times, 23-Apr-2011) illustrates the difference between the education of Franklin and his favorite sister, Jane. By extension, she describes the sharp contrast between the education of boys and girls in colonial America.
JDN | 25-Apr-2011

As in the case of his career as commander-in-chief, Washington’s most important act as president was his giving up the office. The significance of his retirement from the presidency is easily overlooked today, but his contemporaries knew what it meant. Most people assumed that Washington might be president as long as he lived, that he would be a kind of elected monarch like the king of Poland. Hence his retirement from the presidency enhanced his moral authority and set a precedent for future presidents.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)