The americanization of benjamin franklin

Topics: British Empire, Thirteen Colonies, Benjamin Franklin Pages: 9 (1384 words) Published: September 29, 2014
“The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin”; The Significance of a Biography

When trying to read about history, sometimes it is easy to misinterpret information and not realize certain motives or reasons that are behind historical events. Biographies can give readers a better understanding of what happened in the past by explaining how a specific individual viewed and acted on events that happened during their lifetime. People can relate better to biographies than to textbooks that are simply written to be taught in class because biographies give insight to personal feelings and go into detail beyond what a normal textbook

would do. In the book “The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin,” Gordon Wood gives an

extensive biography on Benjamin Franklin and explains how and why Franklin is such a

celebrated historic figure in not just America, but all over the World. In the biography, many

historical issues, attitudes and events were touched upon but there select-few that really stood out

in the process of Benjamin Franklin’s “Americanization.”

The New World, or America, was a land of opportunity because everyone who settled

there was an immigrant that wanted to start a new life. The trades became the center of wealth

and prosperity due to the influx of commerce with Britain. Merchants, artisans and farmers

began to make good money thanks to the large trading ports America had with Europe. The

attitude in the Americas was that if you worked hard, no matter where you came from, success

was in your future. This was especially true for the young American Benjamin Franklin. With

only a few years of schooling, Franklin managed to get into the printing trade and educated

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himself on how to become a successful writer. Once poor, Franklin managed to earn more than

enough money to live comfortably and become very well known throughout the colonies. When

thinking about America, usually what comes to mind is wealth, liberty and independence. What

one probably did not realize was that Franklin, for a while, was a huge royalist and devoted his

service to the expansion of the British Empire. (pg.81) He was fond of Britain and their

superiority they had over most nations. Very interested in the life of a gentlemen, (this was a way

certain people lived without ever having a job and simply just made a living based off of their

relations with others) Franklin retired at the age of 45 and became a true gentleman in 1748. (pg.

55) He put his focus into experimenting with electricity and discovered many new inventions

like the lightening rod and the electrical battery. His name was reaching to a lot of the European

empires due to these amazing findings. If it wasn’t for this specific transition in his life to

become a gentleman, he most likely would not have been the influential person he was in not just

the colonies but also Britain and other nations.

America was wanted by many empires including France and Spain, plus the Indians who

once owned the land before the colonists. After the Seven Years War, Great Britain came out

victorious but also in major debt, so they looked to tax the colonists in America to help pay for

their expenses. Feeling mistreated and unrightfully taxed, Franklin took it upon himself to testify

against the Stamp Act of 1764 and claimed that the government had no right in taxing the

colonists because they had no representatives in the Parliament and could not vote for the

taxation. (pg.116) Not truly knowing Benjamin Franklin, since perceived as the definition of a

true American, one would think that he was instantly on the colonists side and would fight for

their rights. It turned out he actually was all for the taxation in the first place, but once called

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upon by his close associates in America, he appealed the unfair tax to the House of Commons

and had it dropped...
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