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When Benjamin Franklin Met the Reverend Whitefield

Enlightenment, Revival, and the Power of the Printed Word

In the 1740s, two quite different developments revolutionized Anglo-American life and thought—the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening. This book takes an encounter between the paragons of each movement—the printer and entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin and the British-born revivalist George Whitefield—as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the beginnings of modern science and rationality on one hand and evangelical religious enthusiasm on the other.

There are people who both represent the times in which they live and change them for the better. Franklin and Whitefield were two such men. The morning that they met, they formed a long and lucrative partnership: Whitefield provided copies of his journals and sermons, Franklin published them. So began one of the most unique, mutually profitable, and influential friendships in early American history.

By focusing this study on Franklin and Whitefield, Peter Charles Hoffer defines with great precision the importance of the Anglo-American Atlantic World of the eighteenth century in American history. With a swift and persuasive narrative, Hoffer introduces readers to the respective life story of each man, examines in engaging detail the central themes of their early writings, and concludes with a description of the last years of their collaboration.

Franklin’s and Whitefield’s intellectual contributions reach into our own time, making Hoffer's readable and enjoyable account of these extraordinary men and their extraordinary friendship relevant today.

Also in the Witness to History series

The Huron-Wendat Feast of the Dead: Indian-European Encounters in Early North America by Erik R. Seeman

King Philip's War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty by Daniel R. Mandell

The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War by Williamjames Hull Hoffer

Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations by Tim Lehman

About the Author

Peter Charles Hoffer is the Distinguished Research Professor of History at the University of Georgia. He has published many books, including The Brave New World: A History of Early America, Sensory Worlds in Early America, Law and People in Colonial America, and The Devil's Disciples: The Makers of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, all published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviews

While the background information on the lives of these two great men is impeccably researched and written, this book is more than a biography of Franklin and Whitefield, but it is a study of their times and the relevance on their writings and teachings on their own culture as well as in today's culture... Very readable and interesting.

- Book Bargains and Previews

This book more than succeeds in achieving its goal of helping students understand and appreciate the cultural and intellectual environment of the Anglophone world.

- Sheila Skemp - New England Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
Witness to History
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Law and People in Colonial America, second edition

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