Benjamin Franklin certainly had neither women nor novelists foremost in his mind when he published his “Information for Those Who Would Remove to America” in 1782. Susanna Rowson, who would remove to America a little more than a decade later, was exactly the sort of migrant Franklin would have embraced. America, he said, required useful members of society rather than persons “doing nothing of value, but living idly on the labour of others.” Citizens of the new nation do not inquire concerning a stranger, what is he? but what can he do? If he has any useful art, he is welcome; and if he exercises it and behaves well, he will be respected by all that know him.
Rowson understood Franklin’s kind of...
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