The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book David Franks

David Franks

Colonial Merchant Mark Abbott Stern
  • Copyright: 2010
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03669-4
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03098-2
  • Series Name: Keystone Books®
“Mark Abbott Stern’s well-written and extremely well-researched biography of Philadelphia merchant David Franks (1720–1793) ranks among the best works on early American Jews. It is also the finest study I know that clarifies the complicated story of army contracting during the French and Indian War and the bureaucratic intricacies of caring for prisoners of war during the American Revolution.”
“In this gracefully written book, Mark Abbott Stern tells the story of a Jewish man, his Christian family, and his adopted city of Philadelphia during the era that led to American independence. David Franks: Colonial Merchant is the sweeping and illuminating chronicle of a businessman’s engagement with history, the grand intersection of personal temperament with war, westward expansion, and social assimilation. Demonstrating remarkable archival scholarship, Stern writes with skill, sympathy, and mastery about a man in his times.”

David Franks, a colonial businessman in Philadelphia, was one of the most important figures in American Jewish history in the eighteenth century. This extensively researched biography illuminates not only Franks's personal dealings, but also his business life. Franks was involved with Indian trade, ship design and building, manufacturing, international trade, land speculation, westward exploration, and military provisioning. This volume follows Franks from his beginnings in a prominent Jewish family to his trials for treason and his exile in the postrevolutionary period, offering a unique portrait of a forgotten American.

Mark Abbott Stern is a retired engineer and amateur historian. He has devoted the past eleven years to studying the life of David Franks.


Foreword by William Pencak

Preface and Acknowledgments


1. David Franks, Arrested for Treason

2. Family, Friends, and Associates

3. Indian Affairs, Family Growth, and Supplying the Army

4. Commercial Adventures

5. Plumsted and Franks, Agents for the Contractors

6. General Jeffrey Amherst and Colonel Henry Bouquet

7. Major General Thomas Gage

8. Franks, Inglis and Barkly, Agents for the Contractors

9. Levy and Franks and Land Speculation Companies

10. A Time of Transition

11. Working Both Sides of the Street

12. War and Financial Turmoil in Philadelphia

13. The Revenge of the Radicals

14. A Time of Trials

15. Exiles

16. The Final Chapter

Appendix A Letters to the Editor

Appendix B Questions of Death and Burial

Appendix C “Dear Mrs. Cad”: A Revolutionary War Letter of Rebecca Franks




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