Benjamin Franklin Was Born on January 17 Term Paper

Pages: 25 (7384 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: American History

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts to Josiah and Abiah Folger (Kelly 2007, the Electric Benjamin Franklin 2007). He was the 15th of Josiah's 20 children by two marriages. He had only two years of formal schooling but continued to pursue an education by reading. His father had wanted him to be a clergy man. But he could afford to send Benjamin to school only for one year. Entering the clergy required many years of schooling. Josiah worked as a candle maker and also a devoted Anglican. But Benjamin loved to read so he was taken in by his brother, James, a printer, to apprentice at the age of 12. He helped James compose pamphlets and set printing types of "The Spectator." Then Benjamin would sell their printed products in the streets. When his brother would not allow him to write for his newspaper, Benjamin left and went to Philadelphia. He later had a common-law wife, Deborah Read, and an illegitimate son, William. Deborah was married to John Rodgers who separated from her without a divorce. She then could not marry Benjamin (Kelly, the Electric Benjamin Franklin).

Benjamin was a statesman, inventor, scientist, publisher and a politician (Bellis 2007). His accomplishments as such were unique in his time when colonial North America did not yet have sufficient cultural and commercial institutions for his original ideas. As a rule, he was focused on the improvement of daily life for the majority of the people. That was how he made his way and left his singular mark. He first came to be known as the founder of Junto, or the Leather Apron Club. This was a small group of young men who discussed business, morality, politics and philosophy. Through the club, he started a city watch, volunteer fire department, subscription library and the American Philosophical Society. The subscription library became the Library Company of Philadelphia. The American Philosophical society promoted scientific and intellectuals talks then as it still does today (Bellis).

His inventions as a scientist include bifocal glasses and the iron furnace stove (Bellis 2007). The iron furnace stove had a sliding door where wood on a grate is burned. It cooked food and warmed the home at the same time. Scientists and inventors of his time considered electricity to be his major contribution and discovery. With the use of a key and a kite during a thunderstorm, he and his son discovered that lightning bolts are powerful electrical currents. This led to the invention of the lightning rod, designed to prevent the igniting and burning of structures by lightning. His other inventions were swim fins, a glass armonica, watertight bulkheads for ships, and an odometer (Bellis).

After his apprenticeship experience with his brother James, Franklin went to Philadelphia where he established his own printing shop and published his own materials (Bellis 2007). His publications became very popular in both format and content. They contained his democratic thoughts. His "Poor Richard's Almanac" relates hardships through which Benjamin transmitted his opinions and advice on politics, philosophy and advancement. His Pennsylvania Gazette carried information on politics and people. He also used and published political cartoons as illustrations and effective teasers. One famous cartoon was "Join or Die," which came out in the May 9, 1754 issue. It was considered the first American political cartoon, Benjamin's original concept. It was aimed at increasing French pressure on the western frontier of the colonies at the time (Bellis).

Historians have described him as the ultimate or quintessential American for his combined creative pragmatism, scientific innovations and discoveries, and democratic ideals and passion (Bellis 2007). His democratic bent led him to be a statesman of prominence. The Stamp Act of his time required newspapers to use imported and stamped paper. In protest, Benjamin published the November 7, 1765 edition of his Pennsylvania Gazette without a date, a number, masthead or imprint. This was to assert colonial freedom and colonists' autonomy over royal policies. He joined hands with contemporaries George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in rejecting European aristocratic rule and in pressing for representational democracy. He became a member of the Continental Congress, which drafted the Articles of Confederation. He also helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The documents stressed the value of the individual in the political process in committing State protection to his natural and inalienable rights (Bellis).

Benjamin played a specifically vital diplomatic role in the American Revolution and the early period of the American nation (Bellis 2007). He was among the representatives of the Continental Congress sent to form alliances with France. France, at the time, bewailed the loss of its territory to Britain during the French-Indian War. The French considered the victory of the colonists over the British in the Battle of Saratoga as a sign of commitment to independence. The French, then, judged the offer as worthwhile and fitting. To indicate their alliance, the French sent approximately 12,000 soldiers and 32,000 sailors to America. In his last years, Benjamin was also a member of the Constitutional Convention. He was likewise elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (Bellis).

His political career began with his election to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 (Bellis 2007). In 1754, he presented the Albany Plan of Union at the Albany Congress. The plan was to unify the colonies under one government to organize and protect the individual colonies. He struggled to move Great Britain to grant more autonomy and self-rule to Pennsylvania. The revolution became imminent and rules grew stricter over the colonies. Benjamin tried to convince Great Britain that the situation could foment revolt. The importance of sending messages from one town to another and from one colony to another urged him to reorganize the postal system. Another development was his decision to fight back when he recognized that Britain would not grant the representation needed by colonists. He was elected to attend the Second Continental Congress, which convened from 1775 to 1776, where he helped draft and signed the Declaration of Independence (Kelly).

Historians have described him as the ultimate or quintessential American for his combined creative pragmatism, scientific innovations and discoveries, and democratic ideals and passion (Bellis 2007). His democratic bent led him to be a statesman of prominence. The Stamp Act of his time required newspapers to use imported and stamped paper. In protest, Benjamin published the November 7, 1765 edition of his Pennsylvania Gazette without a date, a number, masthead or imprint. This was to assert colonial freedom and colonists' autonomy over royal policies. He joined hands with contemporaries George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in rejecting European aristocratic rule and in pressing for representational democracy. He became a member of the Continental Congress, which drafted the Articles of Confederation. He also helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The documents stressed the value of the individual in the political process in committing State protection to his natural and inalienable rights (Bellis).

Benjamin played a specifically vital diplomatic role in the American Revolution and the early period of the American nation (Bellis 2007). He was among the representatives of the Continental Congress sent to form alliances with France. France, at the time, bewailed the loss of its territory to Britain during the French-Indian War. The French considered the victory of the colonists over the British in the Battle of Saratoga as a sign of commitment to independence. The French, then, judged the offer as worthwhile and fitting. To indicate their alliance, the French sent approximately 12,000 soldiers and 32,000 sailors to America. In his last years, Benjamin was also a member of the Constitutional Convention. He was likewise elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (Bellis).

The Discovery of Electricity

Benjamin was intensely interested in science and studies many of its branches (Bellis 2006). Besides his bifocals and other inventions, he also studies smoky chimneys, the effect of oil on ruffled water, the "dry bellyache" or lead poisoning, ventilation and fertilizers in agriculture. His works reflected his vision of the great developments of the then forthcoming 19th century. His greatest work was his discovery in electricity. In one of his visits to Boston in 1746, he noticed some electrical experiments, which deeply engaged his interest. His friend, Peter Collinson of London, sent him crude electrical apparatus of the time. Benjamin used these along with other equipment he bought in Boston. He wrote Collinson about his consuming interest in electricity. He also intimated to Collinson about his initial experiments concerning the nature of electricity. He described the experiments he and a small group of friends conducted, which demonstrated the effect of pointed objects in drawing electricity off. The result convinced him that electricity was not the result of friction but of some "mysterious" force. He surmised that this "mysterious" force was diffused among most substances and that nature would always restore its equilibrium. He drew up a theory of positive and negative electricity as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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