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General History/Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson


I am currently researching two of the American Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
I would like to know what you believe each of their perspectives on laws in the new United States were. And also their opinions on slavery and women's rights. How were they different from one another, and, more importantly, what was the relationship like between them personally? Were they friends or foes? Or perhaps frenemies? :)

Thank you so much for your time!

Hi Abigail,

During the actual revolution most of the founding fathers were rather united against the British. Both men supported Independence.  Many of the divisions began to appear when it came time to create the Constitution and when they began running the Federal Government.

It's hard to compare Jefferson and Franklin at this time of division because Jefferson did not participate in the Constitutional Convention (he was minister to France at the time) and because Franklin never held federal office and died about a year after Washington became President.

Franklin and Jefferson seemed to get along during their time together in the Continental Congress.  Franklin was nearly 40 years older than Jefferson, but the two of them served together on the Committee to draft the Declaration of Independence.

Years later, Jefferson joined Franklin in France to succeed him as minister.  Both men were there together for nearly a year as Franklin helped introduce and acclimate Jefferson to the French Court.

The two men certianly had much in common.  Both served as Governers of their respective States and both were founders of Universities.  Franklin helped found the University of Pennsylvania while Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.

Both men were deists, meaning they had a belief in God but were skeptical of most organized religion.  Both had a strong interest in science as well.

On slavery, there was some divergence.  Both men owned slaves before the revolution.  But Franklin freed his slaves and went on to play a major role in the early Abolition movement.  Jefferson expressed general concerns about the injustice of slavery, but did not free his slaves during his lifetime.  

Women's rights really didn't become an important political issue until after both men were dead.  Jefferson opposed giving women the right to vote in conversations.  I'm not sure if Franklin ever spoke on the issue.  He did once write an article pointing out the unfairness of the fact that women were punished for having children out of wedlock while men usually were not.  But women's right just were not a hotly debated issue during this period.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

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Michael Troy


My specialties are 17th through 19th Century history, especially in the Americas and Europe. I also have a fair knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman History, and some knowledge of Medieval European history. My expertise is focuses on Military and political history, but I`ll take a crack at anything.


I have been a guest lecturer at George Washington University. Mostly, I have just read hundreds of books about world history.


J.D. Univ. of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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