Keene State College, Spring ‘12
Ben Franklin, nicknamed ‘The First American’ (Waldstreicher, 9) played several crucial roles in the early development of our country during the 1700’s. "Printer, philosopher, scientist, author, and patriot, impeccable husband and citizen ... Benjamin was one of the greatest pioneers of the United States.” (Lawrence, 20) From lighting streets to printing newspapers to starting libraries to wooing foreign heads of state to helping form a new nation, Franklin changed the world around him for the better continually. Yet contrary to popular culture in modern America, fame and fortune are not the primary drivers of his ambition. Rather it a simpler obsession with practical contribution and self-betterment. And most importantly to him, his tireless pursuit to improve the world around him helps creates a much safer, freer, more prosperous way of life for the American colonists and all future generations. As he wrote to his mother in 1750, “I would rather have it said, he lived usefully, than He died rich.”(Morgan, 29) From a young age, Franklin was a very deep thinker and a natural leader. “He had that rare capacity for surprise that has made possible so many advances in human knowledge, the habit of not taking things for granted, the ability to look at some everyday occurrence and wonder why.” (Morgan, 5) As the 15th of 17 kids, Ben was the youngest son of the youngest son for the five generations. As early as grammar school we see Franklin’s focus on self-improvement. “I had risen gradually from the middle of the class that year to the Head of it.” (Franklin, 33) Franklin’s upbringing was ideal for a curious mind. His brother James owned a print shop, so his access to books, newspapers, people, and events were remarkable for the son of a Boston candle-maker. “From a Child I was fond of Reading, and all the little Money that came into my Hands was laid out in Books.”...