Grad. Student Essay

Submitted By davidjacobson75
Words: 4886
Pages: 20

The Life and Influence of Benjamin Franklin and His Impact on America Today.

By David Jacobson

As America’s population reached 300 million people last year, experts predicted the three-hundredth million baby was probably born to a mother who was an immigrant or a son or daughter of an immigrant. While Americans reflect on all the people who have helped shape this country into what it is today and the billions of people who have lived here at one time or another, it is impossible to exclude the first American, Benjamin Franklin, from a list of most influential Americans. Benjamin Franklin’s life experiences had a profound impact on his ideas on how the brand new country of America should be organized, governed, and developed. As the only founding father to have his name signed onto the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and Paris Treaty with England, Franklin arguably attained more wisdom than any other founding father. Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin’s life experiences and his experience as an Enlightenment thinker greatly contributed to the drafting of those three documents as well as America’s domestic and foreign policy, and his influence is still felt in the United States today. Like most Enlightenment thinkers, Benjamin Franklin had a profound curiosity on life, religion, and government. However, his upbringing and life experiences cannot be ignored when one examines how his ideas and curiosities formed. He was the youngest of ten kids in his family as he was born to a poor soap maker in Boston. His dad’s daily goal consisted of being able put enough food on the table to feed his entire family (Gaustad 5). Early in his life, Benjamin wrote in his newspaper known as the New England Courant. He published some radical ideas for the time as he promoted the idea of women having an equal ability to learn and succeed in the same professions as men. Interestingly, his justification was divine because Franklin proclaimed that God gave them this ability (Gaustad 7). Furthermore, he used the newspaper to tease Harvard graduates in how they were so well-respected in the academic world, but they lacked such basic communication and common sense knowledge (Gaustad 9). His early experiences with the public press engrained a deep desire freedom of thought and speech. Benjamin Franklin was aware of the censorship on press that took place in many European countries, and he did not want the same mistake to be made in America (Gaustad 11). Even today in America, citizens take the first amendment very seriously, and it has been given liberal interpretation by the United States Supreme Court, so people are assured the right to voice their thoughts just as Benjamin Franklin did when he wrote for his newspaper. Throughout his childhood, Franklin demonstrated that he was ambitious, discipline, cockiness, and intellectual curiosity. He developed a knack for printing, and his success in this area caused his brother to send him to Europe, so he would not be a threat to his printing business (Gaustad 18). A business opportunity in Philadelphia caused him to go through an adventure to get there, and he described his “awkward ridiculous appearance and un the unfamiliarity of Philadelphia’s customs (Gaustad 20). Many modern scholars credit Franklin’s first experience in Philadelphia as an embodiment of the American dream where high entrepreanual spirit combines with anxiousness about the uncertain times ahead (Talbott 23). Ben went to work for a man named Samuel Keimer, and he soon made friends with a group of men in the area who also loved literature and learning. With ambitions to start his own printing shop and with the blessings of Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, Franklin set sail for London to secure a loan. To his surprise the loan never came available once he arrived in London, so he found work as a printer in England. He was able to print some of his ideas on life and religion, and…