The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Short Essay on Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a great politician and inventor, as well as a few other professions. Ben Franklin accomplished very many things in his lifetime. Some of his greatest accomplishments are the following five: the invention of the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove: being awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Oxford University in England; being named one of the Founding Fathers for signing the Declaration of Independence. It almost seems like Ben Franklin never took a break a day in his life since the moment he was born.
Looking at his timeline of important events, it’s easy to see that the man is very much accomplished. Starting with the invention of the lightning rod.
The lightning rod is a metal rod attached to an exposed part of a building used to divert lightning into the ground. And it was important because it protected any kind of tall building or structure by preventing the lightning from catching the building on fire and damaging it.
Ben Franklin’s next most important invention was the bifocals. And he got the idea when he was starting to get old and was having trouble seeing up close and far away. He grew tired of having to switch between lenses so he decided to conveniently fit both types of lenses into one frame by putting the distance lens on the top and the up close lens on the bottom. Glasses like these are still used today, and that’s why the bifocals are one of Franklin’s most important accomplishments.
Another example of one of Ben Franklin’s greatest accomplishments would be the day he signed the Declaration of Independence and became known as one of the Founding Fathers of the US. And Ben Franklin’s could be discussed and raved about endlessly. Those three accomplishments previously talked about are now even half of all the greats things Ben Franklin has done and contributed to America as a country.
DBQ-American identity and unity
Over the course of the seventeenth- and mid-eighteenth-century a wide variety of groups and individuals have sailed across the Atlantic and settled in America. Settling in this new environment was most certainly hard, but as time passed America transformed into a more complex civilization and so too did its identity and unity. Still ruled under Great Britain the colonists were able to create a unique identity and partial sense of unity as time progressed. The colonists had a full sense of their identity being the egalitarian, self-reliant people that they were, but lacked complete unity, still indecisive about breaking away from their mother country by the eve of the Revolution.
A great deal of the colonists’ identity is ascribed to the environmental factors which shaped their attitudes and beliefs.
The egalitarian and self-reliant characteristics of the colonists were long instilled into American culture. Egalitarianism was due to the abundance of land that provided anybody with a chance of land ownership. Ordinary people could now vote in the colonies, a privilege most didn’t bear in England, and because of the large amount of people with land ownership, the colonists formed less distinctive social classes among themselves.
Also, not being given many supplies to start off with the colonists had to create their communities mostly from scratch, which in return created very self-reliant and self-sufficient communities that played a key role in their freedom from Great Britain. Moreover, the expansive environment inspired many people to start fresh in their lives.
The opportunity that America possessed led not only Englishmen to settle but varying cultures from all around. St. John Crevecoeur Hector says in Letter from an American Farmer, “What then is the American, this new man? He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood which you will find in no other country…He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced.”
The different political perspective between the colonies and Great Britain had also enlarged the colonists’ own sense of identity. In the Declaration for the Causes of Taking up Arms written by the Continental Congress, colonists want their old relationship back from Britain by saying, “We assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored…”
This shows how their unity as a colony was increasing, but at the same time portrays the different stance on government each group had. In this case the colonists wanted to return to the old days when charters and privileges of Americans were written in stone and not ruled by Parliamentary sovereignty, which took them by surprise. This surprise did however reveal the differences in each group’s view of where the power laid and later caused Edmund Burke to say, “Govern America [?] as you govern an English town which happens not to be represented in Parliament[?] Are Gentlemen really serious when they propose this? Is there a single Trait of Resemblance between those few Towns”, identifying the colonists’ view on policies distinctly different than that of England.
Even though the colonists did manage to successfully revolt against the greatest power in the world, they were not completely united before the eve of Revolution. Evidence of their unity however was apparent. Richard Henry Lee says in 1774 to Arthur Lee, “A very small corrupted Junto in New York excepted, all N. America is now most firmly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties ad infinitum against every power on Earth that may attempt to take them away.” Then later goes on to describe how the Association, which was a movement of boycotting British goods, is the most effective measures being taken by the colonies. These boycotts as well as other protest of British commerce gave the radicals of society much unity.
Also there’s evidence of the colonists’ ability to unite by helping the relief of Boston in 1774 and 1775 when it underwent the punishment of the Coercive Acts (Doc G). It was given donations all the way from South Carolina and North Carolina to help aid the Bostonians showing support not only by those colonies close to Massachusetts. The colonists were not completely united though. Cotton Mather, a Great Awakening leader suggests, “They call me a brainless Tory; but tell me, my young friend, which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away.” Loyalists like Cotton Mather had still been obvious by the eve of the Revolution.
“The Origin and Progress of the American Revolution to the year 1776” advocates that the weak minded people were being taken advantage of by Revolutionary leaders in the ‘Arts of Deception’ (Doc F). Loyalists stood by the traditional methods of their mother country, but weren’t as publicly apparent, fearing ridicule by those who have been led to think that the Loyalists were evil. These people, as well as neutralists, restrained from a Revolution.
In Conclusion, the colonists had a complete sense of identity by the eve of the Revolution which were shaped by the new environment, America, and political differences among themselves and Britain. They didn’t, however, have complete unity, many loyalists still supporting the British by the eve of the Revolution.
The Bench Essay
It was whilst I was sitting on a bench that a smart guy as soon as told me that “Humankind has actually not woven the web of life. We are but a thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together-all things connect” ~ Chief Seattle
We continued to sit together and consider the industrious city. I observed the city breathing in the traffic at dawn and exhale it at dusk. While enjoying this process I began to see the exact same routines day after day.
I saw mommies encountering schools to drop their kids off whilst their automobile tires pump out intoxicating fumes. I saw workers bringing in lowered trees to make merchandise for millions.
The routines of mankind have ravaging affects on nature! As I considered the trees, I could see them choking on the thick fumes that originated from the city. Clutter and trash suffocated their trunks as they started to weep for their kinsfolk that were eliminated.
The smart male reminded me that “Trees give us the breath of life, without them we would not be here, we would not have fruit and there would be a missing out on link in the circle of life”
Then we sought to our right towards the sea and rivers. I could see how the animals in the water were struggling to make it through as their movements ended up being a battle and soon the tide was the only element moving them around. Their numbers begun to reduce as their small poisoned bodies started to wash up on the shore. The seagulls innocently indulged on their hazardous remains as the rest of the fish were getting trawled by angler.
We saw the poisoned seagulls fly away back to their nests where their pure white eggs lay. The days passed and the seagulls began to disappear. Their eggs were left unattended and unwatched. The poisoned seagulls had actually been consumed by the monsters. We quickly came to understand that those monsters were the very same that are required to the butchers that give us the food we require on our plates.
The wise man then said “When the well dries, we know the worth of water” ~ Benjamin Franklin I realised that we will also only realise the worth of the environment when it is too late. Soon mankind will suffer the consequences of their actions. We will see major climate changes; we will witness the crying faces of our starving children and hear the groans of our neighbours as a result from our damaged environment.
There will be no rich and no poor. We will gaze upon cloned disintegrating houses and only then will we think “What have we done?” “If we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced until we have only one: to fight for survival” ~ Morris.K
As we sat on the bench looking at the works of our fellow man we realised that we have exploited nature for too long and soon it will be too late. We sat on the bench quietly before he left me, he quoted these words “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” ~ M.Gandi
Colonial unity and identity in America
By the eve of the Revolution, the colonists had developed a moderate sense of their identity and unity. However, they were still far from having the complete sense of identity and unity necessary for an independent country to flourish.
In the early colonial days, there was absolutely no colonial unity. The colonies actually saw themselves as rivals, competing for land and trading rights. This left them defenseless against attacks by the Indians and the French.
The first attempt at creating colonial unity was made by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, after the start of the French and Indian War.
This was called the Albany Plan. The Albany Plan called for an intercolonial government with the right to tax, pass laws, and supervise military defense. Seven of thirteen colonies were represented. To further his cause, Franklin published a cartoon in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The cartoon showed eight disjointed pieces of a snake, each labeled with a colony. The phrase “Join, or Die” was written at the bottom, illustrating the fate of the colonies if they failed to unite against the French and Indian threat.
The colonies felt it did not give them enough independence, and as a result the Albany Plan was not approved by any of the colonies, demonstrating the lack of colonial unity at this time.
During the French and Indian War, British General Loudon often asked the colonies for troops and money to support the war effort. The colonial response was sporadic and uncoordinated because they were not yet unified.
The Stamp Act of 1765 sparked colonial outrage because it was the first direct tax on the colonies for the purpose of raising revenue. Patrick Henry passed a resolution protesting all taxes, and seven other colonies would pass similar resolutions.
The Stamp Act Congress was called in 1765 to protest the Stamp Act. Leaders from nine of the thirteen colonies were represented. This meeting brought an end to most colonial distrust. The colonies no longer viewed each other as rivals, but allies.
After the failure of the Stamp Act, Parliament debated how America should be governed. Edmund Burke, who often supported America, scoffed at the proposal of governing America “like an English town which happens not to be represented in Parliament.” He goes on to say that nature will not allow America to be lumped into the “Mass” of Great Britain. Here, he indicates that the Americans have gained an identity all their own, and are no longer identified as British subjects.
However, there was still a lack of unity in the Southern colonies at this time. The Carolina Regulators wreaked havoc in North and South Carolina, which showed the beginning of a conflict between western frontiersmen and the eastern colonial elite that would last until after the Revolution. The Regulators were western Carolina farmers rebelling against the oppression of the eastern aristocracy.
A series of letters published by John Dickenson entitled “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” inspired opposition to the Townshend Acts of 1767, and were reprinted in all 13 colonies. These letters helped spur unified resistance to the Townshend Acts in the form of non-importation agreements, more commonly known as boycotts.
In response to the Dickenson letters, the circular letter was written by Samuel Adams in Massachusetts. It also called for unified resistance to the Townshend Acts, and was significant because it showed that the New England colonies were at least somewhat unified with the Middle colonies on this issue.
In 1772, the Gaspee, a British ship, was harassing colonial merchant ships and enforcing the Sugar Act of 1764. Outraged colonists burned the ship, and were sent to England to be tried, where they were sure to receive a much harsher punishment than they would in the Americas. This undermined colonial attempts at self-government, and thus damaged the unity of the colonies.
Samuel Adams founded the first Committee of Correspondence in Boston in 1772. All 13 colonies had these committees. They functioned like newspapers, and were sent to all the colonies.
Prior to the First Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee wrote a letter to Arthur Lee stating that the colonies were almost completely unified against the oppression of the British “Ministry.” He goes on to say that the colonies are “most firmly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties.” He was incorrect in his assumption. Statistics would later show that, at the time of the Revolution, only a third of Americans were patriots, while a third was neutral, and the other third remained loyal to Britain.
The famous Tory preacher Mather Byles represented the Loyalist side of the story. He asked, “Which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant 3000 miles away, or by 3000 tyrants not a mile away?” Feel-good history allows people to believe that all the colonists were patriots, but this is simply not true. Some historians even say that the patriots were only a tiny minority of eastern merchants who duped poor western farmers into fighting for the merchants’ cause. In this sense, there was never colonial unity until the U.S. Constitution.
The New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies all came to the aid of the city of Boston as a result of the Boston Port Act of 1774, which was a result of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. From Connecticut down to South Carolina, the colonies sent supplies or money to sustain the Boston economy while the port of Boston was officially closed. This showed that the rebellion was not just in the north, but all down the coast as well.
The First Continental Congress was called in 1774 in response to the Intolerable Acts. The only colony not represented was Georgia, because it still felt somewhat disjointed from the rest of the colonies. Committees of Safety were created as part of the Congress. They were continental assemblies for the purpose of enforcing the boycott of British goods and publicizing the names of those who violated the boycott. These were big steps in colonial unity, though it was not yet achieved.
During this time, the Americans, as a result of their constantly diversifying European, Indian, and African heritage, were splitting farther and farther from Britain and developing an identity all their own. In his Letters from an American Farmer, Hector St. John Crevecoeur writes that Americans are a “strange mixture of blood which you will find in no other country.”
In 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. All 13 colonies were represented. They met mainly to make preparations for war with Britain, but they did not meet to declare independence. Even this late, they did not intend to seek independence until Britain essentially forced them to do so through the Prohibitory Act. George Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
Despite the apparent success of the Second Continental Congress in unifying the colonies, it was relatively ineffective, and the colonies were still not completely unified at the time of the Revolution.
By the eve of the Revolution, the colonists had developed a moderate sense of their identity and unity. However, they were still far from having the complete sense of identity and unity necessary for an independent country to flourish.
Compare and contrast Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison
Long ago there was time where, the room was lit by candle light. In everything one could do one needed a candle next to them to make it possible for it to be done. It was not until the birth of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison that this was changed forever. These two great men’s inventions are what make our world today and without it, we would not be as advanced that we are. This will prove that there are many seminaries (interested in electricity, were both scientist and inventors, both improved the world) between Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison along with their differences (family valves, Benjamin involved in politics world, Thomas involved in social world), wrapping up with how the two scientists are more similar then different.
Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison can resemble each other in more ways then one. For both of the scientists, electricity was a great interest. Franklin believed that lightning was electricity that came from the clouds.
He believed this theory so much that he proposed an experiment to prove it. It would consist of attracting lightning to metal rods resulting in the invention of the lightning rod. Thomas Edison was known for his light bulb. Contrary to popular belief, Edison did not invent the light bulb, just improved a 50-year-old idea. It was Edison’s interest in electricity that brought him to improve the light bulb. Secondly, both of these great men were not only scientist but at the same time inventors too. Benjamin Franklin will always be known for one of the most important inventions for mankind, Bifocals. This invention changed the lives of many people by the way they see and the convince of it. Not only did Franklin discover Bifocals but also the Lightning Rod, Catheter, and Franklin Stove. Thomas Edison was mostly known for his work he did with the light bulb. He also helped the movie world.
Some may call it the entertainment world instead. He invented the first camera for motion pictures, it was called the Kinetophone. This invention help change the way people provide entertainment forever. Next, these scientist were both great in all ways, they also started something new to add to their greatest. Franklin started the first fire insurance. He came up with the idea when he was 46. He knew with the new technology coming out, that it may be of some need. Thomas Edison worked for newspapers when he was a young boy. He started the first newspaper to ever be printed on a train. He called it the Grand Trunk Herald. Finally, not only was the interest of electricity a big favor in their seminaries but also they both started their lives working in the printing profession. Franklin worked in the printing profession up until he turned 42. There he decided to retire to devote his time to his studies in science. Edison started working for the printing profession as a young boy. When he was twelve, he lost almost all his hearing. Edison believed it was from when he was grabbed by his ears and lifted to a train. With the lost of almost all his hearing, it did not slow Edison down.
Just like the connections, variations are also applied when referring to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. These two men were very different when it applies to their families. Franklin was very distant from his family. When he moved to Boston, he cut his family completely out of his life. For Edison he claims that his mother is what made him. When he was a boy, there was a disagreement with the teacher that he mother did not like. She in result pulled him from school and continued to teach him herself. She then taught Edison the rest of his schooling. Many believe that this is the reason he quotes his mother made him. Next, along with being a scientist and inventor, Franklin was also at the same time involved in the political world. When he was 70, Franklin was chosen to be in the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.
The next year he signed the Treaty of Alliance with France. Right before Franklin passed on he signed the Constitution of the United States of America. Lastly, as for Edison he was involved in a totally different world that many people today would know it as the social world. Edison had invented the first camera for motion pictures. By doing this, it brought him into the entertainment world and later called the social world. Edison even copyrighted the first motion picture ever. It showed his employee Fred Ott pretending to sneeze. By doing this, it started the production of motion pictures. Edison changed the Social world just like Franklin changed the Political world.
After reviewing Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison’s achievements, it is recognized that there are more seminaries rather then differences. In history it was even written that Thomas Edison was following in Benjamin Franklin’s footsteps. Both were interested in the same things and the same desires when conducting their experiments and theories. They both enjoyed researching electricity. When researching it they both came up with inventions that changed the world. Even when they were children, they both enjoyed the same careers. They both started out working in the printing profession and then finished their lives with studying science.
Along with being in the printing profession, they both were known to be scientists and inventors. With all the work that they have finished, it led them to discover new things that could improve the world. For example Franklin will always be known for the lightning rod and the bifocals. As will Edison be known for improving the light bulb and starting the entertainment world with the first camera for motion pictures. Without these two men something’s in this world today just would not be here.
This has just proved that there are many seminaries (interested in electricity, were both scientist and inventors, both improved the world) between Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison along with their differences (family valves, Benjamin involved in politics world, Thomas involved in social world), wrapping up with how the two scientists are more similar then different. These two scientist and inventors are two great men that have lived. Without some work that they have accomplished, no one would know where the world would be today.
Compare Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson all had similar values and ideas about America concerning politics and its economy. They all also had a knack for getting people to follow them.
Benjamin Franklin, who had only died about 30 years before William Cullen Bryant wrote To Cole, the Painter, Departing for Europe, seemed to express different views about America vs. Europe in his letters. In a letter Franklin wrote to his grandson, he expressed how he wanted to return to America before his death but didn’t think he would be able to.
He seemed so passionate when writing about America. It was as if there was nothing better than America.
We also know that Franklin was very involved in politics and economics. He is one of the first people we read about who was very concerned with money and how it affected status and politics. Obviously wealth affects status in at least some aspect. Whether the wealth was measured by money or by land, it defined social class.
Only people of the upper class took part in politics.
Franklin was one of America’s founding fathers. He helped write the Declaration of Independence, which we still abide by today, over 200 years later. Benjamin Franklin listed 13 virtues with their precepts in one of his documents. He listed these to make sure he abided by all of them and just these 13. One of the precepts was ‘order’. He expanded on this by making a schedule of how his business and his life should run. It listed what should be done for the day, including when he should eat and sleep. He was definitely ahead of his time and set the standards for Americans today.
Thomas Paine instilled his ideas onto others in Common Sense. He starts out by saying, “In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense”. Just by writing this, he has already captivated the reader and forced them to see his views and just ‘common sense’. Paine seemed to specialize in revolts and working for the ordinary person. This was Paine’s involvement in politics; getting the common person to see how they were oppressed and how things should change. He took action by forming revolutions.
Paine felt that America should be free from British control. He stated, “We have boasted the protection of Great Britain without considering that her motive was interest, not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account.” He used this to explain to Americans how Britain had created enemies for us because of their own personal reasons and when we were under attack, Britain didn’t care and sequentially, they had created enemies for both places.
Thomas Jefferson took part in politics as well as Franklin and Paine and was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, unlike Franklin and Paine, was born into his wealth. He was never a commoner and therefore never knew what it was like to be in that position.
I find it interesting that someone of his stature would be allowed to help write the Declaration of Independence which helps guide everyone including commoners. He couldn’t possibly understand what would be best for them. This is probably why there are many things in the constitution that don’t seem fair to an ordinary person, such as the Electoral College. This system was basically created because a regular person could not have a vote left in their hands. Although Jefferson seems like he wants independence for America, it also seems like he doesn’t trust America to have this Independence.
All three people that I have discussed seem to differ in their views of America vs. Europe from Bryant. Bryant seems to be thrilled that America is based on Europe. Places such as New York and New England were almost exact replicas of the originals. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were trying to change the way America was to make it a better place to live. It is because of these men that America is everything it is today.
DBQ on identity and unity of the colonies
The revolutionary war was a fine example of unity and a great sense of identity. During, the revolutionary era there were many examples of colonial unity as a group and as a soon to be country. The strength of the revolution was dependent on their unity. The colonists had a strong sense identity and unity by the eve of the revolutionary war.
The identity of the colonists was showed in many ways throughout history. The colonists wanted to be a separate entity from their mother country, England.
The identity of the colonists was shown in a speech to parliament by Edmund Burke. He wrote about the colonies as a separate place far from England. Burke wrote:
Govern America as you govern an English town which happens not to be represented in parliament…Is there a single trait of resemblance between those few towns and a great and growing people spread over a vast quarter of the globe, separated from us by a mighty Ocean? (Burke,1).
This was example the identity of the colonies, because Burke said the English rule cannot have effect on America. He also said that England cant rule the colonists because of the difference of culture and way of life. They were really a separate country.
There were many examples of unity in pre-revolution events. After the Intolerable acts were put into action, the colonists rebelled against the king and started the Continental Congress. The Navigation acts were another example of unity because they defied the king and stood up for what they believed in. The pamphlet Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, helped unify the colonists through its ideas of a new republic. Printed articles such as news, books and events like the Boston Massacre helped the colonists unify through propaganda. The French and Indian war was also an example of unity because all the colonies helped each other even if they were not directly involved with the war. They also created a militia which proved unity.
One of the most powerful examples of unity was in a letter from Richard Lee to Arthur lee 24 February, 1774. “…all N. America is now most firmly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties ad infinitum against every power on Earth that may attempt to take them away…” (Lee,1). Richard Lee is sure that the colonies will fight to the end. He talks about the extraordinary unity of the colonists. The drawing in the Pennsylvania Gazette By Benjamin Franklin in 1754 also show unity in action. Franklin’s drawing told the colonists that they must come together as one to defeat the British. This cartoon was an influence in the colonies. After 1754, it is proven that the colonies do come together and that this cartoon was a real influence on the colonies. Another example of influence was in a letter from Mather Byles. He wrote:
They call me a brainless Tory; but tell me, my young friend, which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away. I tell you, my boy, there was just as much humbug in politics seventy years ago as there is today. (Byles,1)
Mather Byles was a neutral stand in the war on liberty. The unity that was shown in this letter was that people in the colonies wanted to rule themselves. They didn’t want one person, a million miles away, to rule them.
The colonists had more unity than most people think. They needed that unity to conquer the big brother of England. Most of all, they needed the unity to fight for their cause and win.
The Albany Congress
During the two Decades from 1754 to 1775, the American colonies moved from division to unity. The accomplishments of the Albany Congress, the Stamp Act Congress, and the First Continental Congress caused this change. The Albany Congress was held in 1754. It was a meeting of representatives from various colonies in response to the war between Britain and France. The main plan was to form a colonial defense and gain the support of the Iroquois Confederacy. They also debated an intercolonial government. Ben Franklin and Thomas Hutchinson were the authors of the Albany Plan.
They proposed an elected assembly would plan for a common defense paid for by taxes levied by congress. Although the plan did not pass, because the colonies were not ready to share their powers to tax with each other, it did put the idea of a unified nation in the minds of the colonists.
The Stamp Act Congress was held in New York City in1765. Delegates from 9 American Colonies gathered to respond to the Stamp Act Parliament passed.
The Stamp Act taxed commercial or legal documents, licenses, newspapers, permits, pamphlets and even playing cards. It was not a heavy tax but if they let Parliament pass this tax, they would only have more in the future. “No taxation without representation” basically means the English colonies did not want to be taxed without their consent.
The First Continental Congress met in 1774 in Philadelphia to protest Britain’s Intolerable Acts (Coercive Acts):
- Boston Ports would be closed until compensation was met to the East India Tea Company for the Boston Tea Party.
- The Colonial Charter was annulled and they replaced colonial officials with royal officials and they banned town meetings.
- Royal Officers would not be tried in colonial courts.
- They legalized quartering of troops in public buildings and private homes.
- They established a government in Quebec and gave them the territory claimed by colonists North of the Ohio River.
Twelve of the colonies were present at the meeting (not Georgia.) They urged the colonies to form militias. They formed the Continental Association to boycott British goods. They also voted to reconvene the following spring if Britain would not redress American grievances. After this meeting, the majority of the colonies were in unity.
Declaration of Independence DBQ
In the two decades prior to the Revolution, the Americans built up a series of grievances against the British government. Those complaints were clearly articulated in the Declaration of Independence. The colonists did this to prove to every other country in the worlds that their reason for war was justified. It is also important to keep in mind that when Thomas Jefferson wrote this, he did not mean for it to be a historical text, he wrote it as a persuasive essay to gain support from other European countries.
So the fact that some of the grievances listed may be fabricated or altercated, is only natural if you want to gain allies, and make your parent country look bad. The colonists didn’t want to quietly separate form the British; they wanted to make a statement. Although some of the charges leveled against the king in the Declaration aren’t valid, the majority of the charges, including those about trade, economics, political influence, and domestic feuding, were very much valid charges.
The grievance in the Declaration of independence that specifically addresses the commerce problem within the colonies states that Britain “cut off all trade with other parts of the world,” except them. We can clearly see this statement is a valid grievance, because if we examine the numerical statistics of imports and exports of Britain in the years of 1763-1775, we can clearly see a disturbing pattern. In Britain’s trade with the colonies the colonists received about ¼ of what they exported, back in imports (Document B). This unbalance is a big gap that identifies the underlying issue of monopolization, which the British had over the colonies. The Colonists couldn’t possibly have traded with any other country anyways because they had no money. The Grievance in the Declaration of independence that addresses international trade is in fact a valid grievance.
The grievance in the Declaration of independence that comments on the unjust taxes that existed within the colonies, stated that Britain “imposed taxes without are consent.” There were several Tax legislations that The British parliament created for the colonies, without the colonies consent. Examples of these taxes include: the Sugar Act (1764), the Currency Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), the Townshed acts (1766), and the Tea Act (1773). These Acts along with others laid the foundation for unrest and high tension within the colonies, towards Britain.
Benjamin Franklin outlined the specifics of the taxation of the colonists, before the House of Commons, with his statement, “An External Tax is a duty laid on the commodities imported…, if the people don’t like it, they can refuse it, and are not obliged to pay. But an internal tax is one forced from the people without their consent” (document C). Ben Franklin being an intellectual himself could have provided an educated and relatively impartial statement. Britain mainly used internal taxes to extract wealth form the colonists, and thus seemed more unjust, as the whole process was by way of force. This created further resentment within the colonies and was a major cause of the American Revolution. The Grievance that discusses the taxation of the colonists, by the British was very much a valid Statement.
The grievances that discuss the political oppression of the colonists to pass their own laws stated that, “the House of Representatives was dissolved repeatedly for opposing ideals of the king,” regarding what’s best for the colonists. The Most important and influential political entity in the colonies at this time was the town meeting. At town meetings people could voice their opinions on important problems that were occurring at that moment, and the People could set up a law or act, that would provide immediate help, or relief to the problem at hand.
Britain thus enacted a governmental act, that restricted the power of these meetings, and that no meeting could be conducted without the governor, which often times was a voice of the King (Document D). This way the colonists couldn’t pass any law without partial king consent and now law would get passed that didn’t benefit the crown. This in turn caused the colonists to be unable to defend themselves, against any immediate threat to the colonies. As a result, the grievance listed in the Declaration was a valid statement that was an important aspect of the declaration.
The grievance in the Declaration of Independence concerning domestic feuding with the Indians states that the crown has, “excited domestic insurrections amongst us…to bring on the merciless Indian savages.” This defines an important grievance that was not only outlined in the declaration of independence, but also was made a point in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. The British would only aid to colonies in battles with the Indians, which they could have possibly benefited from. This meant that the British were looking to gain land, money, or both.
Any other fight between the colonists and the Indians they did not see beneficial to the crown, they would let the colonists themselves deal with the problem, and thus the colonies were always in a state of fear. Britain also would instigate fights with the Indians and the colonists, so that the colonists would be even more dependent on Britain, and thus would have no reason to revolt. This point is made clear in the Paxton Boys petition to the Provincial council. Which states that, “Under the mask of friendship, have procured themselves to be takes under protection of the government (English),…and are now maintained at the public expense” (Document A). The British effectively used the Indians as a weapon against the colonists. Thus putting this grievance in the Declaration is very mush a valid action.
The Declaration of Independence was created in order to establish a persuasive and convincing reason to break away from Britain. Within the Declaration is the List of grievances which specifically cite examples of the oppressive and tyrannical rule of the British. Some of these grievances aren’t valid statements including one specific grievance that discusses Britain’s role in the decimation of the colonies coasts, town, and lives of their people. However for the most part the grievances are valid statements that help outline the colonist’s base for starting a war.
The grievances were such an important aspect of the Declaration, that without them, the colonies might not have received the support the got for other countries during the fighting, and the colonists might not have won. We can clearly see that the grievances listed in the Declaration were in fact valid arguments against the king of England.
“American Declaration of Independence 1776.” Essortment Articles: Free Online Articles on Health, Science, Education & More. 30 Nov. 2008 .
“United States Declaration of Independence – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 30 Nov. 2008 .
Reflection on Benjamin Franklin Personality
Can a man be as vast as a nation? Did the life-experiences and cultural contributions of a single individual play as pivotal a role in the establishment of American democracy and American culture as any written declaration, constitution, or law? Without a doubt, there are historians who stand at the ready to assert that Benjamin Franklin was just such an individual. Numerous books, scholarly articles, essays, encyclopedias, and even works of fiction have contributed and continue to contribute to the mythic status of Benjamin Franklin in American history.
However, there is is good reason to reject any surface-level interpretation of Franklin’s important contributions to the founding of American Democracy, and read with great care the complex and extensive evolution of Franklin’s actions and stated philosophies over the span of a great many years. The resulting image of Franklin when the myth of Franklin and the historical Franklin are compared is one of a challengingly deep and complex thinker, and of a man who acted in keeping with his deepest philosophical, moral, and spiritual beliefs — many of which were quite radical in his day and many of which were astonishingly traditional.
The truth of the matter is that “”Franklin’s extant writings are so rich and voluminous that one can find almost any sort of Franklin one wishes to find,” (Frasca, 2007) but, certainly, in comparing the historical Franklin to the mythic Franklin, important insight into American history and into the psychology of American culture can be gained.
Franklin’s career can be said to have begun very early in his life, when he “left school at 10 years of age to help his father” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007); not long afterward, he “was apprenticed to his half brother James, a printer and publisher of the New England Courant, to which young Ben secretly contributed. After much disagreement he left his brother’s employment and went (1723) to Philadelphia to work as a printer” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007).
Franklin’s early life was later given its first “boost” toward mythic status with posthumous publication of Franklin’s “Autobiography” in 1791, not long after Franklin’s death. If the “Autobiography” helped to foster the mythic status of Franklin in American history, it was but one of the many examples of Franklin’s written contributions to American culture. During his active career, Franklin was immersed not only in science and history, but in philosophy and ethical theory as well.
His popular writings contained both humor and moral axioms — notably in his very popular publication, “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” which was “In his day the great source of profit to every printer [… ] which was issued yearly, and which was the vade-mecum in every household that could spare the necessary two or three pence annually” (Ford, 1899, p. 400). Franklin’s steady contributions to American popular culture during his lifetime included not only the folk wisdom of Poor Richard, but with much-needed humor for the American continent:
In America, however, either because the immigrants had been recruited from the unfortunate and the religiously austere, or because the hardness of the conditions resulted in a sadness which tinctured the lives of the people, there seems to have been a practical extinction of all sense of the humorous. (Ford, 1899, p. 388) Against this background, Franklin — himself often a deep-thinker and a moody person — articulated the first instances of a natively American sense of humor.
This fact is very important in evaluating both the mythical and the historical Franklin because the mythic Franklin remains empty of all but a few slight traces of Franklin’s triumphant career and reputation as a humorist. His status as such is very important because, as mentioned, it is Franklin’s cultural contribution to America as well as his political contributions which cements his status as a Founding Father and which has resulted in the extensive influence Franklin has held over American culture from its earliest beginnings.
Franklin used humor in a very conscious way to pave the way for his more considered ethical and moral ideas; more importantly he seized the opportunity to define humor in America for generations: “perhaps his most remarkable attribute is that the future historian of the now famous American humor must begin its history with the first publication of Poor Richard” (Ford, 1899, p. 389) and, by doing so, Franklin placed himself in a key position to define through humor just what it mean to be an American.
His capacities as a humorist do not seem to have been affected, but rather emerged naturally out of his personality. Franklin used humor to not only define himself and to partially define American culture, but as a method to settle scores or take shots at traditional beliefs or institutions: “His irresistible inclination to screw a joke out of everything is illustrated by the scrapes he got himself into with his advertisers. Employed to print an announcement of the sailing of a ship, he added an “N. B.
” of his own, to the effect that among the passengers “No Sea Hens, nor Black Gowns will be admitted on any terms. ” Some of the clergy, properly incensed, withdrew their subscriptions from the “Gazette. ” Yet this did not cure him of the tendency, and he was quickly offending again. (Ford, 1899, p. 394) Humor and literary works provided one means for Franklin to influence the development of early American culture and these aspects are slightly contained in the myth of Benjamin Franklin, with the humorous aspects downplayed.
For example, “Poor Richard’s Almanac” is probably part of the Franklin myth in most people’s minds and they probably also are aware that Franklin offered axioms of wisdom in this Almanac, but many people are probably deeply unaware that Franklin’s gift for humor was not only an important part of his literary output, but an aspect of his personal philosophy and a method by which he engaged other people and also helped to resolved conflicts. Another aspect of the Franklin myth is that he “invented” electricity by tying a key to a kite-string.
Like many myths, this myth has a basis in historical reality: “His experiment of flying a kite in a thunderstorm, which showed that lightning is an electrical discharge[… ] and his invention of the lightning rod[… ] won him recognition from the leading scientists in England” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007) but it is a slim basis. What the “lightning and key” myth represents in a compressed form is the long and complex contribution to the natural sciences and to popular inventions which actually was a part of the historical Franklin’s career.
In regards to his actual scientific achievements, Franklin is noted by historians to have been a brilliant inventor and adapter of existing technologies: “He repeated the experiments of other scientists and showed his usual practical bent by inventing such diverse things as the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses, and a glass harmonica” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007); he is regarded as having a very brilliant scientific mind and a keen sense of practical implementation of abstract ideas.
These qualities are also present in Franklin’s philosophical and political ideas which will be discussed shortly and together, Franklin’s scientific, philosophical. and political vision actually coincide with the “popular” aesthetic already shown to have been a part of his literary output. In some ways, Franklin’s cultural contributions mirror a deeply democratic sense of purpose and fulfillment: the creation of common axioms, a common wisdom, along with useful technologies are not separate from Franklin’s political vision.
Ironically, the egalitarianism which is inferred in Franklin’s guiding principles is less present on the surface in his specifically political writings. When specifically considering Franklin’s political beliefs and writings, it should be pointed out that Franklin was actually “very different from the other Founding Fathers. He was older and more committed to the British Empire and certainly more cosmopolitan and urbane than they were” (Morgan, 2005, p.
551) and because Franklin lived abroad for just under twenty years in England and having traveled a lot through Europe, Franklin was in many ways “the least American of the revolutionaries” (Morgan, 2005, p. 551). This duality in the historical Franklin is, of course, completely absent from the “lightning and key” mythic Franklin who is regarded as a Founding Father of American democracy.
This last idea of the myth of Franklin is true enough, but as this paper has hopefully shown, the historical picture of Franklin is a more ambiguous and much more complex than the myth. This is an understandable condition because part of what myth does with historical events is to simplify them and streamline them so that the symbolic impact can be made more powerful and less diluted by alternate interpretation.
It would be difficult if not impossible, for example, to generate a mythic vision of Franklin which included the historical reality that Franklin “preferred the social and intellectual life of London to that of Philadelphia” (Morgan, 2005, p. 551) or that “his landlady, Margaret Stevenson, and her precocious daughter, Polly, provided Franklin with more compatible intellectual companionship than did his own wife and daughter” (Morgan, 2005, p.
551) so these very real and very important aspects of Franklin’s actual life and his actual personality are absent from the Franklin myth. Yet these aspects, and others, are extremely important in helping to define and understand what exactly Franklin contributed as a Founding Father of American democracy. That his cultural contributions, whether humorous, literary, or scientific not only fostered his myth but actually altered the course and evolution of American society is demonstrable by way of historical evidence.
What, then, were Franklin’s political contributions to the early American nation? Did Franklin evidence as much resourcefulness and thoroughness in his political career as he evidenced in his career as a printer, or humorist, or inventor? One very interesting aspect of Franklin’s life is that he dealt with not only the revolt of the American colonies against a British Empire which he loved, but also with the resulting estrangement from his own (illegitimate) son during the course of the war.
Franklin’s actions at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War give a solid glimpse into his sympathies and beliefs at the time: As trouble between the British government and the colonies grew with the approach of the American Revolution, Franklin’s deep love for his native land and his devotion to individual freedom brought (1775) him back to America. There, while his illegitimate son, William Franklin, was becoming a leader of the Loyalists, Benjamin Franklin became one of the greatest statesmen of the American Revolution and of the newborn nation.
(“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007) As a statesman, Franklin’s contributions can be at least to some degree quantified and cited: he was postmaster general, a delegate to the Continental Congress, an appointee and signatory to the committee which wrote the Declaration of Independence, he was also “sent to Canada with Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll of Carrollton to persuade the people of Canada to join the patriot cause” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007).
The mythic vision of Franklin as a powerful statesman delivering powerful, moving oratory before the Continental Congress, or laboriously poring over draft versions of the Declaration of Independence are confronted by anecdotes of historical fact. An example of this is John Adams, who “contemptuously described a Franklin “from day to day sitting in silence, a great part of the time fast asleep in his chair” and sighed that he was likely nevertheless to get credit for everything achieved by the Congress,” (Lopez & Herbert, 1975, p. 203).
Again, Franklin’s political reputation was based not so much in his perception among his American colleagues, but in his foreign popularity and fame. His best tactic was not spell-binding oratory or intricate legalese, but in injecting “a calm pronouncement or a bit of humor” (Lopez & Herbert, 1975, p. 203) into difficult political processes. The question still remains as to what Franklin, personally, believed about the American Revolution — during the time of the revolt and afterward — and whether or not Franklin can be accurately described as a firm believer in democratic principles.
The historical facts suggest that Franklin held conflicting views about democracy and royalist rule. On the one hand, he advocated personal liberty, on the other, he seemed reluctant to dismiss with the notion of a royalist government altogether. As he wrote in the “Autobiography,” his feelings were not at all certain during the time of the approaching revolution: “In our way thither I projected and drew up a plan for the union of all the colonies under one government, so far as might be necessary for defense, and other important general purposes” (Franklin, 1914, p.
131) but here there is no mention of a constitution or a strong Federal government at all. Franklin’s own visions for “a single-chamber congress and a weak executive council were rejected” (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007) and, alter, although he objected to aspects of the final Constitution, “he helped to direct the compromise [and] worked earnestly for its ratification’ (“Franklin, Benjamin,” 2007).
The picture which emerges of Franklin as a politician is one of a man whose core-principles were challenged by the birth of a new government, but who fought resolutely on behalf of the new nation without regard for the degree to which it mirrored, exactly, his always-evolving personal beliefs. In addition to the differences which are evident between Franklin the myth and Franklin the historical figure in regard to his literary, scientific, and political contributions to American history, two other areas of Franklin’s life are absent from the mythological figure of Franklin: his religious and racial convictions.
Of course, it is absolutely true that Franklin’s religious convictions and his views on race and ethnicity evolved throughout his lifetime. On the other hand, Franklin’s religious beliefs seemed to occupy a central place in his interpretation of his own life’s purpose and the meaning of his life. Where religion is concerned, Franklin’s most intimate beliefs depict a rather traditional point of view.
Because of his personal experiences and personal fortunes, Franklin tended to view the arc of his life in rather conventional religious terms: “Scattered through his writings are sentences full of gratitude to God for His favor in lifting him up from such a low to such a high estate, in bringing him substantially unscathed through the graver dangers and baser temptations of human life, and in affording him the assurance that the divine goodness, of which he had received such signal proofs in his career, would not cease with his death” (Bruce, 1917, p.
51) — these simple, but enduring, beliefs are easily compatible with many forms of American Christianity. That said, it would be very difficult to trace an influence from Franklin to modern Christianity, nor an influence of Christianity directly on the myth of Franklin. In both fact and in myth, Franklin’s traditional religious ideas are downplayed due, presumably, to their being conspicuously in keeping with the common ideas of Franklin’s time. Interestingly enough, Franklin retained his religious convictions at the close of his very eventful life and the fruition of his religious convictions strengthened him in old age and in death.
As one of his biographers wrote: “WHEN THE DAY CAME, April 17, 1790, he was ready. All his life he had been gingerly taming death, stripping it of its awe and power, clothing it in appealing metaphors of travel and bliss, humoring it, giving it a place in the family circle” (Lopez & Herbert, 1975, p. 308) and because of his receptiveness to deeply held religious convictions which were, nonetheless, not tied to any kind of dogma or strict adherence to religious doctrine, Franklin’s religious philosophies and his actual death are gestures, also, of a democratic sprit and and individualist.
The conflict which the religious side of the historical Franklin presents for the mythic vision of Franklin is difficult to articulate. It has to do with the fact that, while Franklin’s individualistic take on Christian principles and religious ideas does, in fact, make a very compatible fit with the American notion of individual liberty, Franklin’s avoidance of traditional dogma and doctrine results in making his individualistic religious beliefs more difficult to define and express to a popular audience.
Just as there is no easy mythical expression for Franklin’s humor, as there is for his scientific prowess, there is no ready mythic symbol for his peculiarly individualistic religious beliefs which are rooted in traditional Christianity. Just as Franklin’s religious attitudes fail to find mythic expression, his ambiguous views on race and racial prejudice also are a poor fit for the Franklin myth.
The attentive observer of history will take into consideration that at various points in his life, Franklin was demonstrably racist and xenophobic: “Franklin was clearly unhappy about the great number of Germans who were immigrating to his home town of Philadelphia, even though many supported him by patronizing his printing business” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005) and also, Franklin — prior to the Revolutionary War — “grumbled about Philadelphia’s bilingual (English and German) street signs and complained that the Pennsylvania parliament needed to use translators” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005).
In addition to these historical facts, there is evidence that Franklin was not only racist, but perhaps a bit paranoid about other races and cultures. He wrote on one occasion, “That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small…. ” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005) which in and of itself might be considered merely an observation of fact until it is paired with Franklin’s words, which preceded the statement: “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005).
These kinds of historical details and indications of Franklin’s character have no place in the Franklin myth. Their impact on the historical influence of Franklin is one which is very complicated and fascinating because the evolution of Franklin’s thoughts and actions in regard to issues of race underwent a profound change throughout his life.
Although Franklin seemed to regard one race being in conflict with another in some of his writings, he nevertheless, “was chosen to be president of one of the first anti-slavery societies in America,” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005) and he went on to help to “create black schools, assist free blacks to obtain work, promote family-friendly values, and improve the social conditions black children” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005).
The most important aspect of Franklin’s views on racism is that his ideas “evolved over his lifetime, becoming more tolerant and egalitarian as he grew older” (Lapham & Saunders, 2005), however, even such a dramatic and ultimately positivistic aspect of Franklin’s historical biography is left out of the Franklin myth. A letter to Franklin from his sister seems to encapsulate the very kinds of ambiguities and vagaries which the myth of Franklin exists to erase.
His sister remarks of the American revolution: “to Propagate Is stufed into them, & it is Dificult to know whither Either Party are in the Right. for my Part I wish we had Let alone strife before it was medled with & folowed things that make for Peace” (Van Doren, 1950, p. 107) and from this letter and others like it, the modern observer is able to glean at least a partial understanding that ideas and conflicts in Franklin’s time were no more clear, no more “black and white” than they are in our own.
In conclusion, while the myth of Benjamin Franklin, the man who “discovered” electricity with a key tied to a kite, the man who “wrote” the Declaration of Independence, a man who is one of the Founding Fathers of America, is a powerful and enduring myth, the historical facts of Franklin’s long and eventful life offer and a more authentic illustration of early-American philosophy, politics, and culture.
The conflict between the myth of Franklin and Franklin the historical figure is rooted in the fact that historical truths are often ambiguous, complex and difficult to express succinctly, whereas myth, while sacrificing authenticity often makes a far more expedient impact on popular consciousness. Franklin the historical figure achieved a far greater influence practically over the development of American culture and American politics than the myth is capable of expressing; however, the historical facts of Franklin’s life also sometimes stand in stark opposition to the myth which they, at least in part, began.
References Bruce, W. C. (1917). Benjamin Franklin, Self-Revealed: A Biographical and Critical Study Based Mainly on His Own Writings (Vol. 1). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Franklin, Benjamin. (2007). In The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed. ). New York: Columbia University Press. Ford, P. L. (1899). The Many-Sided Franklin. New York: The Century Co. Franklin, B. (1914). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. New York: Macmillan. Frasca, R. (2007). Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and
Political Thought. The Historian, 69(2), 359+. Lapham, S. S. , & Saunders, A. (2005). Benjamin Franklin’s Evolving Views on Race and Ethnicity. Social Education, 69(1), 13+. Lopez, C. , & Herbert, E. W. (1975). The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family. New York: W. W. Norton. Morgan, D. T. (2005). The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. The Historian, 67(3), 551. Van Doren, C. (Ed. ). (1950). The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom. Princeton, NJ: