Book Review: When Benjamin Franklin Met the Reverend Whitefield by Peter Charles Hoffer (four stars)

Book Review: When Benjamin Franklin Met the Reverend Whitefield: Enlightenment, Revival, and the Power of the Printed Word by Peter Charles Hoffer (four stars)

‘Without meaning to sound old-fashioned, this volume rests on the assumption that there are people who both represent their times and alter them in crucial ways. Franklin and Whitefield were two such men, even though they seemed polar opposites in their thinking.’ 

Excellent history of two of the most influential men in the first half of the eighteenth century in North America, George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin. Narrowly focused on them and their working relationship. Extensive quotes from each man’s writings aid readers to understand both the writer and the message.

‘Franklin became Whitefield’s promoter and publicist in America, and Whitefield’s peregrinations made Franklin’s newspaper must reading for everyone curious about the Great Awakening of religiosity.’

Both men were self-made colossi amid the already-outsized personalities of the eighteenth century. They were as instrumental to creating of the state of America as others were to creating the nation.

‘Franklin’s star had not risen as fast as Whitefield’s in the first years of the 1740s, but by the end of the decade he was the better-known figure throughout the empire.’ 

Compare with The Preacher and the Printer. Each is a twenty-first century take on eighteenth century giants. Worth reading.

‘Neither individualism nor equality was a dominant theme in Western life at the beginning of the eighteenth century. At its end, with Franklin often cited as an example, both individualism and equality were synonymous with America.’