Mr. Barry Hall
American Lit. I: Fri. 9-11:45pm
6 May 2011
Benjamin Franklin’s Influence in 18th Century America
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 6th, 1706. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and was also well known for his writings and inventions. R. V. Jones states that Benjamin Franklin was “the oldest man to sign the Declaration of Independence” he also goes on to say that Franklin “had done more than anyone else to keep America within the British Empire; and now he was to play a key part in the War that won Independence for the American Colonies.” Benjamin Franklin also acquired success from being a writer, printer, man of science, and being a philanthropist. The inventive mind of Benjamin Franklin produced the well- known Franklin stove, bifocals, carriage and also the public institutions, such as the free library and postal system (Lauter 838). Benjamin Franklin was an intelligent man with a remarkable talent for inventing things which had a major influence on eighteenth Century America. He was appreciated by many followers and his ability to write and invent contributed greatly to American society.
Benjamin Franklin’s father Josiah Franklin was a candle and soap maker and Franklin at the age of 10 was an apprentice for his father’s business. Franklin’s father desired for young Franklin to obtain a career in service to the church or in the family business of making candles and soap. Benjamin Franklin at a very young age exhibited a desire to be independent and self-reliant and rebelled against his father’s wishes. Franklin did not enjoy working as an apprentice to his father’s business and at the age of 12, he instead became an apprentice to his older brother and learned about the printing business and at the same time he developed his literary skills. Benjamin attended school for a short period of time but due to his family’s financial hardship, he was unable to complete school. Coming from a poor background Benjamin Franklin was determined to reach success and no obstacles that presented itself on his journey to success was going to inhibit him. Franklin did not allow financial circumstances to prevent him from pursuing his goal of excelling academically; he continued to educate himself by reading a vast amount of books, and acquired as much knowledge as he can. Benjamin Franklin abided by certain self-constraints, which would later help him to become the most famous man of his time.
At the age of seventeen Franklin’s desire for independence from his family drove him to leave Boston for Philadelphia. After a year in Philadelphia he relocated and moved to London, where he took a job at a print shop. “Almost two years later, more experienced in the social and economic realities of life, Franklin returned to Philadelphia, where he devoted many years to establishing himself as a printer and philosopher” (Lauter 838). Franklin was very successful as a printer and editor of a newspaper in Philadelphia. At the age of twenty-three he “set up a printing house of his own from which he published The Pennsylvania Gazette to which he contributed many essays” (Woolman 3). His intentions for the Gazette were to utilize all the knowledge he had acquired and produce the best newspaper possible. Franklin continued writing literary works for quite some time and one of those literary works in which he was famous for was his autobiography. Benjamin Franklin was all about self improvement, desiring to be the best he can be and making adjustments along the way to advance himself. According to Walter Isaacson he states , that “most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, wash himself.” In his autobiography, part two he spoke of thirteen virtues that were necessary and desirable to him. The names of the thirteen virtues are: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness,...
Cited: Down, Joseph. “Benjamin Franklin and His Circle.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. Vol. 31, No. 5 (May, 1936), pp. 97-104
Eliot, Charles W. “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”: The Journal of John Woolman. P.F. Collier & Son Company. New York, 1909.
Franklin, Benjamin. “Benjamin Franklin and Freedom.” The Journal of Negro History. Vol. 4. No. 1 (Jan., 1919), pp. 41-50.
Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: an American life. Simon and Schuster, 2003. Print.
Jones, R.V. "Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London." Royal Society. 31. (1977): 201-25. Print.
Lauter, Paul, Richard Yarborough, John Alberti, and Mary Pat. The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Beginnings to 1800. Wadsworth Pub Co, 2008. 837-40. Print.
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