Describe the ways in which Franklin and Jefferson reflect the legacy of Puritan thinking in their writing.
Benjamin Franklin began to publish Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733, and he published it each year until 1758. Many of the aphorisms, or sayings, in the almanac expressed ideas that emphasized Puritan values, such as thrift and hard work to show evidence of worldly success. Examples include "A fat kitchen, a lean will" and "A lean award is better than a fat judgment." Some sayings in the almanac were very funny, such as " A good lawyer, a bad neighbor." These sayings reinforced the idea that Americans should practice economy and should strive for achievements won through effort, much in the way that the Puritans emphasized being a "city upon a hill," or a moral example to the rest of the world. In Franklin's Autobiography, a version of which first appeared in 1791, he discussed how he founded the Pennsylvania Gazette, and his autobiography also included a list of virtues by which Franklin constantly judged himself. Though he realized that the pursuit of perfection was not achievable, he was content to continue to pursue it. This emphasis on moral perfection was also a reflection of Puritanical ideas, and Franklin's book became a popular model for American autobiographies.
Jefferson's writings include the Declaration of Independence, in which he asserted the right of the American people to overthrow the British king, as he had broken the social contract by which he was supposed to represent them. This document reflected the thinking of John Locke and was not necessarily Puritan in nature. He also wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786, which was not Puritan in nature, as it espoused a separation of church and state (while Puritans established a theocracy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony). However, in some of his writings, such as his letter to Edward Carrington in 1787, Jefferson wrote in the aftermath of uprisings such as Shays' Rebellion about the importance of the role of individual conscience in keeping the American government just. He wrote: "The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution." His emphasis on the role of individual conscience i government and public life is in part a legacy from the Puritans, though Jefferson was more influenced by French and English philosophers, such as Locke and Montesquieu.