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Last edited by Gregg L. DesElms
May 5, 2012 | History

An historical review of Pennsylvania, from its origin 1 edition

Cover of: An historical review of Pennsylvania, from its origin by Richard Jackson, Benjamin Franklin

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About the Book

This book, published in the US in 1812, is actually the second publication of a book originally published in London, 53 years earlier, in 1759, by R. Griffiths Printers entitled "An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania" (First Edition Octavo (4-3/4" x 8") bound in contemporary calf with gilt rules; viii, [xviii], 444 pages). It was written when Benjamin Franklin went to England to present Parliament with the grievance of the Pennsylvania Assembly against the (William) Penns (proprietors of Pennsylvania), and the proprietary nature of the colonial government (notably their claim to be exempt from taxation); and it defended the actions of the Assembly and Quaker Party during the Seven Years’ War.

The 1759 book was published anonymously, while this 1812 re-publication attributes the work to Benjamin Franklin. Scholars now believe, though, that the original 1759 book (and so, then, also this 1812 second publication) may well have been written by Richard Jackson, K.C., a British lawyer and politician, member of the King's Counsel, Britain's Colonial Agent of Connecticult, and Franklin's friend and colleague. Franklin and Jackson exchanged many letters between 1753 and 1785 which were compiled and annotated by Carl Van Doren, and then published by the American Philosophical Society in 1947. In those letters is evidence that Jackson, if not the primary author of the book, at least contributed sufficiently that when Franklin later denied authorship, the notion of Jackson being the author was plausible.

In a 27 September 1760 letter to Scottish philosopher David Hume, Franklin flatly denied authorship, other than of a few remarks in the book that were credited to the Pennsylvania Assembly, in which he served. However, in volume 7 of his 1840 "The Works of Benjamin Franklin," Hillard Gray, in a footnote beginning on page 208, seriously disputed (and therein well-documented his reasons) that Franklin was not the actual author. "These testimonies," Gray wrote, "added to the style of the performance and the ability of its execution, left no reasonable ground for supporting that he (Franklin) did not write it."

Though Thomas Jefferson was still a teenager when the 1759 book was published, he obtained, in later years, his own leather-bound first edition (which exists, today, in the Library of Congress); and so convinced was Jefferson that he recognized Franklin's words, work and style throughout the volume that he wrote "by Doctor Franklin" with a quill pen on his copy's cover page, right above the book's famous motto, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety," and its reference to the motto's in-context presence on page 289. Considerable evidence exists that while Franklin may or may not have authored the 1759 book (and so, then, also this 1812 re-publication), he was almost certainly the author of that now-famous and oft-quoted motto.

As the title page of this 1812 second publication clearly indicates, its publisher, Philadelphia's Olmstead and Power, believed that Franklin was the book's author... a notion which was, by then, the conventional wisdom. However, sufficient has the evidence become in the ensuing 200 years that Jackson, and not Franklin, was likely the author (in part because of Van Doren's work, published in 1947) that his name, "Jackson, Richard" is now written in more modern ballpoint pen at the very top of the aforementioned title page of Jefferson's original first edition; and, also, the respected and authoritative Washington and Lee University Library Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database clearly shows Jackson, and not Franklin, as the author. This Open Library page, then, is likely correct to show Jackson as the author; however, likely, also, was Franklin's contribution so considerable (as so convincingly argued by Hillard Gray; and as so deeply believed by Thomas Jefferson, and many others) that it would not be entirely inaccurate to show him as at least the co-author. Franklin was, in any case, the publisher, as he acknowledged in his posthumously-published (first in French in 1791, and then in English, in 1793; and then several times more in subsequent years) autobiography, co-authored by his grandson, William Temple Franklin.

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An historical review of Pennsylvania, from its origin
Embracing, among other subjects,the various points of controversy which have arisen, from time to time, between the several governors and the assemblies. Founded on authentic documents
by Benjamin Franklin. Originally published in London

Published 1812 by E. Olmstead and W. Power in Philadelphia .
Written in English.

Edition Notes

Sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

Originally printed in London, for R. Griffiths, 1759.

The Physical Object

[18] 444 p. ;
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive

History Created November 29, 2010 · 5 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

May 5, 2012 Edited by Gregg L. DesElms Added the word "book's" before the word "author" in the first sentence of the last paragraph (so the reader wouldn't think we were still talking about the motto, based on the previous paragraph).
May 5, 2012 Edited by Gregg L. DesElms Added "(as so convincingly argued by Hillard Gray; and as so deeply believed by Thomas Jefferson, and many others)" in the second-to-last sentence.
May 5, 2012 Edited by Gregg L. DesElms Added to the pub dates in parenthesis in the very last sentence; changed "Templeton" to "Temple" (I was tired... don't know why I typed "Templeton"); and removed ", K.C.' from after Richard Jackson's name in the "A person? Or, people?" field. Soon I'll circle back and add linked references/citations.
May 4, 2012 Edited by Gregg L. DesElms There was no description. Now there is.
November 29, 2010 Created by ImportBot initial import