Benjamin Franklin and Chess in Early America

Benjamin Franklin and Chess in Early America

A Review of the Literature

Anniversary Collection

by Ralph K. Hagedorn

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

96 pages, 140.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 7 illus.

  • ISBN: 9781512812046
  • Published: January 1958



"Playing at Chess is the most ancient and the most universal game among men, for its original is beyond the memory of history." Benjamin Franklin penned these words as an introduction to his famous essay "The Morals of Chess." Franklin's approach to the game was in distinct contrast to his predecessors, who seriously advocated all the subtle treacheries of the art of poor sportsmanship with the sole end of attaining victory. To Franklin, however, the game of chess was not mere idle amusement but a sport reflective of life itself—"for life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain and competitors or adversaries to contend with"—which requires the utilization of all the finest mental and moral qualities of which man is capable.

This volume reproduces Franklin's celebrated essay and includes an analysis of everything Franklin ever had to say about chess. The second part of the book contains an extensive bibliography of chess in America to the year 1859. The two sections of the volume combine to form an essential sourcebook for the historian of American chess.