American Literature

1) Because Benjamin Franklin was a “founding father,” we too often write about him as if he were a saint! Franklin very definitely does not present himself that way. For example, he is very open about his errata. Discuss an example of how Franklin describes or presents himself. Why do you think he is so open about his flaws as well as his aspirations?

2) Discuss what one of the authors from the handout has to say about what the new nation of the United States should be. You may want to discuss the conflict between John and Abigail Adams over that. Politics of location was critically important here. At the beginning of the United States, only white men with property had the right to vote — gender, race, and class determined who could vote.

3) In the first version of the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson wrote, he lists the crimes that King George has committed against the Americans. Did his strong statements blaming the British king for imposing slavery and the slave trade on the American colonies surprise you?