Disraeli was of Jewish ancestry, but his father, the literary critic Isaac D'Israeli, had him baptized (1817). In 1826 Disraeli published his first novel, Vivian Grey. It was the beginning of a prolific literary career, and his political essays and numerous novels earned him a permanent place in English literature. After a period of foreign travel (1830-31), Disraeli returned to London, where he soon became prominent in society. Standing four times for Parliament without success, he was finally elected in 1837 and rapidly developed into an outstanding, realistic, and caustically witty politician.
He was a follower of Sir Robert Peel until 1843, but he then became spokesman for the Young England group of Tories, espousing a sort of romantic and aristocratic Toryism. He expressed these themes in the political novels Coningsby (1844) and Sybil (1846). He criticized Peel's free-trade legislation, particularly repeal of the corn laws (1846). After repeal went through (1846), he helped bring down Peel's ministry.
At the death of Lord George Bentinck (1848), Disraeli became leader of the Tory protectionists. He was chancellor of the exchequer in the brief governments of the earl of Derby in 1852 and 1858-59, and after continuing opposition during the Liberal governments of Palmerston and Russell, he became chancellor under Derby again in 1866. With consummate political skill, he piloted through Parliament the Reform Bill of 1867 (see under Reform Acts), which enfranchised some two million men, largely of the working classes, and greatly benefited his party.
Disraeli succeeded the earl of Derby as prime minister in 1868 but lost the office to Gladstone in the same year. Disraeli's second ministry (1874-80) enacted many domestic reforms in housing, public health, and factory legislation, but it was more notable for its aggressive foreign policy. The annexation of the Fiji islands (1874) and of the Transvaal (1877), the war against the Afghans (1878-79), and the Zulu War of 1879 proclaimed England a world imperial power more clearly than before. So did Queen Victoria's assumption (1876) of the title of empress of India; Disraeli was a great favorite of the queen.
The government's purchase (1875) of the controlling share of Suez Canal stock from the bankrupt khedive of Egypt strengthened British Mediterranean interests, which were jealously guarded in the diplomacy during and after the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78). During the war Disraeli supported Turkey diplomatically and by threat of intervention in order to combat Russian influence in the eastern Mediterranean, and he induced Turkey to cede Cyprus to Great Britain. He forced Russia to submit the Treaty of San Stefano to the Congress of Berlin (1878) and there secured the treaty revisions that greatly reduced Russian power in the Balkans (see Berlin, Congress of) and helped preserve peace in Europe. Disraeli was created earl of Beaconsfield in 1876. He was defeated by Gladstone in 1880.
See biographies by W. F. Monypenny and G. E. Buckle (6 vol, 1910-20, rev. ed. 1968), R. W. Davis (1976), R. Blake (1966, repr. 1987), S. Bradford (1982), J. Ridley (1995), W. Kuhn (2005), C. Hibbert (2006), and A. Kirsch (2009); study by M. Swartz (1985).
See his public papers and addresses (1893, repr. 1969); biography by H. J. Sievers (3 vol., 1952-68).
See Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, Prepared by Himself (1858; repr. and ed. by H. P. Johnston, 1904); biography by C. S. Hall (1943).
See biographies by P. Butler (1981) and E. Evans (1989).
See biography by M. M. Hoover (1948).
See collections of his essays edited by H. Arendt (1968, 1978); his Moscow Diary (1986); The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910-1940 (1966, tr. 1994) edited by Manfred R. and Evelyn M. Jacobson; Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship (1981) by G. Scholem; studies by R. Wolin (1982), S. Handelman (1991), and B. Witte (1991); essays by G. Scholem (1965, 1981).
See biography by G. C. Faber (1957).
The son of a tallow chandler and soapmaker, Franklin left school at 10 years of age to help his father. He then was apprenticed to his half brother James, a printer and publisher of the New England Courant, to which young Ben secretly contributed. After much disagreement he left his brother's employment and went (1723) to Philadelphia to work as a printer. Industry and thrift—qualities he was to praise later—helped him to better himself.
After a sojourn in London (1724-26), he returned and in 1729 acquired an interest in the Pennsylvania Gazette. As owner and editor after 1730, he made the periodical popular. His common sense philosophy and his neatly turned phrases won public attention in the Gazette, in the later General Magazine, and especially in his Poor Richard's Almanack, which he published from 1732 to 1757. Many sayings of Poor Richard, praising prudence, common sense, and honesty, became standard American proverbs.
Franklin also interested himself in selling books, established a circulating library, organized a debating club that developed into the American Philosophical Society, helped to establish (1751) an academy that eventually became the Univ. of Pennsylvania, and brought about civic reforms. His writings are still widely known today, especially his autobiography (covering only his early years), which is generally considered one of the finest autobiographies in any language and has appeared in innumerable editions.
Franklin had steadily extended his own knowledge by study of foreign languages, philosophy, and science. He repeated the experiments of other scientists and showed his usual practical bent by inventing such diverse things as the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses, and a glass harmonica (which he called an armonica; see harmonica 2). The phenomenon of electricity interested him deeply, and in 1748 he turned his printing business over to his foreman, intending to devote his life to science. His experiment of flying a kite in a thunderstorm, which showed that lightning is an electrical discharge (but which he may not have personally performed), and his invention of the lightning rod were among a series of investigations that won him recognition from the leading scientists in England and on the Continent.
Franklin held local public offices and served long (1753-74) as deputy postmaster general of the colonies. As such he reorganized the postal system, making it both efficient and profitable. His status as a public figure grew steadily. A Pennsylvania delegate to the Albany Congress (1754), he proposed there a plan of union for the colonies, which was accepted by the delegates but later rejected by both the provincial assemblies and the British government. He worked for the British cause in the French and Indian War, especially by providing transportation for the ill-fated expedition led by Edward Braddock against Fort Duquesne. Franklin was a leader of the popular party in Pennsylvania against the Penn family, who were the proprietors, and in 1757 he was sent to England to present the case against the Penns. He won (1760) for the colony the right to tax the Penn estates but advised moderation in applying the right.
He returned to America for two years (1762-64) but was in England when the Stamp Act caused a furor. Again he showed prudent moderation; he protested the act but asked the colonists to obey the law, thus losing some popularity in the colonies until he stoutly defended American rights at the time of the debates on repeal of the act. He was made agent for Georgia (1768), New Jersey (1769), and Massachusetts (1770) and seriously considered making his home in England, where his scientific attainments, his brilliant mind, and his social gifts of wit and urbanity had gained him a high place.Revolutionary Leader
As trouble between the British government and the colonies grew with the approach of the American Revolution, Franklin's deep love for his native land and his devotion to individual freedom brought (1775) him back to America. There, while his illegitimate son, William Franklin, was becoming a leader of the Loyalists, Benjamin Franklin became one of the greatest statesmen of the American Revolution and of the newborn nation. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress, was appointed postmaster general, and was sent to Canada with Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll of Carrollton to persuade the people of Canada to join the patriot cause. He was appointed (1776) to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, which he signed.
Late in 1776 he sailed to France to join Arthur Lee and Silas Deane in their diplomatic efforts for the new republic. Franklin, with a high reputation in France well supported by his winning presence, did much to gain French recognition of the new republic in 1778. Franklin helped to direct U.S. naval operations and was a successful agent for the United States in Europe—the sole one after suspicions and quarrels caused Congress to annul the powers of the other American commissioners.
He was chosen (1781) as one of the American diplomats to negotiate peace with Great Britain and laid the groundwork for the treaty before John Jay and John Adams arrived. British naval victory in the West Indies made the final treaty less advantageous to the United States than Franklin's original draft. The Treaty of Paris was, in contradiction of the orders of Congress, concluded in 1783 without the concurrence of France, because Jay and Adams distrusted the French.Constitutional Convention Delegate
Franklin returned in 1785 to the United States and was made president of the Pennsylvania executive council. The last great service rendered to his country by this "wisest American," as he is sometimes called, was his part in the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787. Although his proposals for a single-chamber congress and a weak executive council were rejected, he helped to direct the compromise that brought the Constitution of the United States into being. Though not completely satisfied with the finished product, he worked earnestly for its ratification.
See the definitive edition of Franklin's works, ed. by L. W. Labaree et al. (37 vol. so far, 1959-2003) See biographies by J. Parton (1864, repr. 1971), S. G. Fisher (1899), P. L. Ford (1899, repr. 1972), B. Faÿ (1933, repr. 1969), C. Van Doren (1938, repr. 1973), P. W. Conner (1965), A. O. Aldridge (1965), T. J. Fleming (1971), H. W. Brands (2000), E. S. Morgan (2002), W. Isaacson (2003), and J. A. L. Lemay (2 vol. so far, 2005-); I. B. Cohen, Benjamin Franklin's Science (1990); T. Tucker, Bolt of Fate (2003); G. S. Wood, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (2004); S. Schiff, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America (2005); P. Dray, Stealing God's Thunder (2005); J. Weinberger, Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought (2005).
See biography by B. A. Konkle (1932).
See T. Earle, ed., The Life, Travels and Opinions of Benjamin Lundy (1847, repr. 1971).
See his letters (ed. by L. H. Butterfield, 1951); autobiography (ed. by G. W. Corner, 1948); biography by D. F. Hawke (1971).
See R. Weingarten, Germaine de Staël and Benjamin Constant: A Dual Biography (2008); studies by H. Nicolson (1949), W. W. Holdheim (1961), and D. Wood (1987).
See biographies by I. Holst (2d ed. 1970), E. W. White (new ed. 1970), and H. Carpenter (1992); study by P. Evans (1979).
See study by H. Von Erffa and A. Staley (1986).
As leader (1993-99) of the Likud party, Netanyahu was largely responsible for engineering its return to political power after its 1992 electoral defeat. An opponent of the peace policies espoused by Israel's Labor government, he was criticized for cultivating Jewish extremist support after the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Narrowly elected in May, 1996, he became Israel's youngest prime minister, promising a tough stance on terrorism. His tenure was marked by difficult peace talks with the Palestinians. Corruption scandals in his cabinet and strong reactions to his personality contributed to his May, 1999, loss to One Israel (Labor) party leader Ehud Barak. More recently, Netanyahu served under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as foreign minister (2002-3) and as finance minister (2003-5), but resigned and unsuccessfully challenged (2005) Sharon for the Likud leadership when Israel withdrew its settlers and forces from the Gaza Strip. When Sharon subsequently left Likud, Netanyahu became party leader; the party did poorly in the 2006 elections. A better showing in the 2009 elections enabled him to become prime minister of a largely right-wing coalition government in Apr., 2009.
Benjamin in the Book of Genesis, is a son of Jacob, the second (and last) son of Rachel, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin; in the Biblical account, unlike Rachel's first son - Joseph, the father of Ephraim and Manasseh - Benjamin was born after Jacob and Rachel arrived in Canaan. However some view these details as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an etiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.
Biblical scholars regard it as obvious, from their geographic overlap and their treatment in older passages, that originally Ephraim and Manasseh were considered one tribe, that of Joseph. ; According to several biblical scholars, Benjamin was also originally part of this single tribe, but the biblical account of Joseph as his father became lost. The description of Benjamin being born after the arrival in Canaan is thought by some scholars to refer to the tribe of Benjamin coming into existence by branching from the Joseph group after the tribe had settled in Canaan. A number of biblical scholars suspect that the distinction of the Joseph tribes (including Benjamin) is that they were the only Israelites which went to Egypt and returned, while the main Israelite tribes simply emerged as a subculture from the Canaanites and had remained in Canaan throughout. According to this view, the story of Jacob's visit to Laban to obtain a wife originated as a metaphor for this migration, with the property and family which were gained from Laban representing the gains of the Joseph tribes by the time they returned from Egypt; according to textual scholars, the Jahwist version of the Laban narrative only mentions the Joseph tribes, and Rachel, and does not mention the other tribal matriarchs whatsoever.
The Torah argues that Benjamin's name arose when Jacob deliberately corrupted the name Benoni, the original name of Benjamin, since Benoni was an allusion to Rachel dying just after she had given birth, as it means son of my pain. Textual scholars regard these two names as fragments of naming narratives coming from different sources - one being the Jahwist and the other being the Elohist. The true etymology of the name Benjamin is a matter of dispute, though most agree that it is composed of two parts - ben and jamin - the former meaning son of. The literal translation of Benjamin is son of right (as opposed to left), generally interpreted as meaning son of my right hand, though sometimes interpreted as son of the right [hand] side; being associated with the right hand side was traditionally a reference to strength and virtue (cf sinister, which derives from the latin for left). This is, however, not the only literal translation, as the root for right is identical to that for south, hence Benjamin also literally translates as son of the south; this meaning is advocated by several classical rabbinical sources, which argue that it refers to the birth of Benjamin in Canaan, as compared with the birth of all the other sons of Jacob in Aram. Modern scholars have instead proposed that, with the eponymous Benjamin being just a metaphor, son of the south/son of the right are references to the tribe coming into existence in a geographic situation to the south of Ephraim, the more dominant tribe. In the Samaritan Pentateuch, the name is consistently written as בן ימים - with a terminal mem - making it Benjamim, and would literally translate as son of days; some classical rabbinical literature argues that this was the original form of the name and was a reference to the old age of Jacob when Benjamin was born.
According to classical rabbinical sources, Benjamin was only born after Rachel had fasted for a long time, as a religious devotion with the hope of a new child as a reward, and by then Jacob had become over 100 years old. Benjamin is treated as a young child in most of the Biblical narrative, but at one point is abruptly described as the father of ten sons; textual scholars believe that this is caused by the genealogical passage, in which his children are named, being from a much later source than the Jahwist and Elohist narratives, which make up most of the Joseph narrative, and which consistently describe Benjamin as a child..
The genealogical passage names each of the sons, which classical rabbinical tradition adds to with the argument that the sons were each named in honour of Joseph:
The Torah's Joseph narrative, at a stage when Joseph is unrecognised by his brothers, describes Joseph as testing whether his brothers have reformed, by secretly planting a silver cup in Benjamin's bag, then publicly searching the bags for it, and after finding it in Benjamin's possession, demanding that Benjamin become his slave as a punishment; the narrative goes on to state that when Judah (on behalf of the other brothers) begged Joseph not to enslave Benjamin and instead enslave him, since enslavement of Benjamin would break Jacob's heart, this caused Joseph to recant and reveal his identity. The midrashic book of Jasher argues that prior to revealing his identity, Joseph asked Benjamin to find his missing brother (ie. Joseph) via astrology, using an astrolabe-like tool; it continues by stating that Benjamin divined that the man on the throne was Joseph, so Joseph identified himself to Benjamin (but not the other brothers), and revealed his scheme (as in the Torah) to test how fraternal the other brothers were. However, some classical rabbinical sources argue that Joseph identified himself for other reasons. In these sources, Benjamin swore an oath, on the memory of Joseph, that he was innocent of theft, and, when challenged about how believable the oath would be, explained that remembering Joseph was so important to him that he had named his sons in Joseph's honour; these sources go on to state that Benjamin's oath touched Joseph so deeply that Joseph was no longer able to pretend to be a stranger.
In the narrative, just prior to this test, when Joseph had first met all of his brothers (but not identified himself to them), he had held a feast for them; the narrative heavily implies that Benjamin was Joseph's favorite brother, since he is overcome with tears when he first meets Benjamin in particular, and he gives Benjamin five times as much food as he apportions to the others. According to textual scholars, this is really the Jahwist's account of the reunion after Joseph identifies himself, and the account of the threat to enslave Benjamin is just the Elohist's version of the same event, with the Elohist being more terse about Joseph's emotions towards Benjamin, merely mentioning that Benjamin was given five times as many gifts as the others. A version of the Joseph narrative appears in the Qu'ran, which also mentions Benjamin (though it does so without naming him), describing him as having been regarded particularly highly by Joseph, and by Jacob; Baidawi, the quintessential mediaeval commentator on the Qu'ran, records that there was a tradition that the brothers had been made to sit in pairs at the feast, so that Benjamin had to sit on his own, which resulted in Benjamin weeping over the loss of Joseph. Not only is Benjamin treated as the favourite brother of Joseph, and a favourite of Jacob, but classical rabbinical sources also stress the fact that Benjamin is referred to as the beloved of Yahweh in Deuteronomy; these rabbinical sources concluded that Benjamin died without ever committing sin - one of only four men to have done so (the other three being Amram, Jesse, and Kileab.