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American Philosophical Society
John Beale Bordley’s “Necessaries”: An American Enlightenment Pamphlet in its Historical Contexts
Mark G. Spencer
John Beale Bordley (1727-1804) first had “Necessaries” printed in 1776 as a 17-page pamphlet. In 1799, he revised his work and reprinted it as a chapter in “Essays and Notes on Husbandry and Rural Affairs.” “Necessaries” published a 3rd time in 1801, when “Essays and Notes” saw a corrected and expanded edition. With its history spanning Colonial, Revolutionary, and early national America, Bordley’s work provides an advantageous window from which to view some of early America’s central debates as they played out on the ground. Uncovering its historical contexts enriches our understanding of it as well as of its author and his enlightened, revolutionary, and increasingly Republican times. Illus.
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