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Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and James Madison Paperback – January 17, 1997

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Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and James Madison + The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (Abridged College Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039331510X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393315103
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cohen's eye-opening, elegant study shows that America's Founding Fathers were true citizens of the Age of Reason who sought links between scientific principles and constitutional government. Thomas Jefferson, naturalist and inventor, had a consuming passion for scientific pursuits ranging from paleontology to zoology. The Declaration of Independence, which he wrote, reverberates with echoes of Newtonian science, as when he invokes "self-evident" truths or "laws of nature." Benjamin Franklin, far from being a mere tinkerer or inventor, pioneered the science of electricity. Franklin also developed a demographic theory that North America would become a population center of the British world; this led to the policy according to which the British annexed Canada rather than Guadeloupe as the spoils in the war against the French (1754-63). John Adams, who studied astronomy and physics at Harvard, was a founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston. And James Madison, a devoted amateur scientist, drew on scientific metaphors and analogies in his Federalist articles. Illustrated. Cohen is Victor S. Thomas professor emeritus of the history of science at Harvard University.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Intellectually engaging . . . deftly written.” (Boston Globe)

“The founding fathers appear in an interesting new light, thanks to Cohen's fresh, not to say iconoclastic, vision.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Levin on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cohen does an excellent job in describing how the Founding Fathers based so much of our country's most vital documents-the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution-& their other writings, such as the Federalist Letters, on the science of their time, which Franklin & Jefferson had a great part in the making. In our time, as we look at the sad state of scientific literacy, are we in danger of losing our grasp of thse documents because the underlying concepts of science aren't understood?
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