How Benjamin Franklin tried—and failed—to form a union

It was a concept borrowed from the Iroquois, and one that America never quite mastered.

  • Most people know the basics of American history and may even be able to name all 13 colonies, but where exactly did the idea to form a union come from?
  • Political writer and essayist Richard Kreitner explains how Benjamin Franklin learned the concept from the Iroquois Confederation. When he tried to introduce it to the colonists, however, they "thought it was essentially equivalent to tyranny."
  • The idea eventually caught on, but not without land disputes and issues of representation, which explains why the US House of Representatives has 435 voting seats while the Senate has just one seat per state—it was a compromise. Kreitner argues that this imbalance may one day rupture the US political system.

Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union List Price: $22.49 New From: $18.71 in Stock Used From: $20.50 in Stock

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