: James Tagg
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press
: 10.96 MB
This is the first modern biography of Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Between the turbulent years of 1793 and 1798, Bache was the young nation's leading political journalist and a sharp critic of the Federalists and their policies. As editor of the most important radical newspaper of the 1790s, he lived at the center of most of the political storms of that decade. He defended the Democratic Societies as the earliest vehicles of public opinion; he strenuously opposed the ratification of the Jay Treaty, the central political event of the decade; he led and orchestrated the attack on George Washington in an attempt to curb growing executive authority; and his defense of French policies contributed to the sedition crisis of 1798. A primary target of the Federalist-sponsored Sedition Act, he was indicted for federal common law seditious libel before that act took effect. In 1798, at the height of the political hysteria, Bache died of yellow fever at the age of twenty-nine. Like Thomas Paine, to whom Bache was personally and ideologically connected, Bache was not a product of Whig Oppositionist or classical republican ideology. Yet neither was he an inheritor of a more thoroughly modem liberal ideal. Committed to rational self -interest, he promoted a civic vision and only partially embraced the newer world of nascent capitalism. James Tagg establishes the ideological and psychological framework of Bache's later radicalism by carefully examining Bache's childhood at Passy with his grandfather, his education in Geneva, and his adolescence in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Philadelphia Aurora will interest scholars and students of American history.