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

Racial prejudice worked to perpetuate American slavery, even if it was not essential to sustain the institution. Slavery, serfdom, and peonage had existed elsewhere without racial connotations. Indeed, bondage had been so historically ubiquitous one might well ask why, by the 1760’s, it had come to trouble so many white Americans so much. The answer lies in part — and this part help explain why people like Mason did not act more aggressively on their concerns — in the reservations many whites felt about living alongside members of a supposedly inferior race, whether slave or free. The problem was inherent in American slavery, and emancipation, by undermining white control, would only make it worse.

Jeff Broadwater
George Mason: Forgotten Founder (2006)