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Benjamin Franklin is not just the man who put a key on a kite in a lightning storm and ran around; he help shaped the United States into what it is today. Franklin was a man of many trades, which included being an inventor, author, scientist, politician, diplomat, and more. Ben Franklin, who many is view as a founding father, directly contributed to the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Besides being a writer, Franklin also had skills in negotiating, which came in handy during the Treaty of Paris and ending the Revolutionary War (History). Having a part in these four major events, combined with his inventions and book, had major impact on American history.
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in January of 1706 to Josiah Franklin, a candle and soap maker, and Abiah Folger. Even though Franklin was a successful student at the Boston Latin School, he stopped attending at the age of ten to work for his father. From there, Benjamin became an apprentice printer at his older brother’s shop. It was in this shop where he began to write about politics, women’s rights and other topics. Because his brother would not let him write for the paper, Franklin started to write under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood. Benjamin’s older brother was thrown in jail for some time, so during this period Franklin continued to run the paper until his brother was released. Because of the way Franklin’s brother treated him, Benjamin Franklin decided to leave and eventually stopped in Philadelphia.
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Franklin ended up going to London to get supplies to start his own printing company. While he was in London, he ended up publishing his first pamphlet called “A Dissertation upon Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” stating that because people lacked free will, they are not morally responsible for their actions. After moving to back Philadelphia, Franklin became the official printer of Pennsylvania. With this new title, Franklin published a few more pieces, which financially enabled him to buy and own the Pennsylvania Gazette. Besides a few pamphlets, Franklin went on to write Poor Richard’s Almanac (Biography). Franklin thrived during his printing career. During this time, Franklin married his childhood sweetheart, Deborah Read, in 1730. Franklin then fathered 3 children.
Aside from printing, Benjamin Franklin became very involved in the community of Philadelphia. Starting a lending library, being a founder of the first fire station and police patrol, and organizing a militia was just some of the many things that Franklin helped found or contribute to in Philadelphia. Franklin pushed for paved roads and clean streets in Philadelphia. He also had a part in starting the first subscription library (The Electric). The idea came to Franklin because books were very expensive and scarce. He thought that by pulling together many of his different resources, people would be able to afford books. Franklin was also a key player in the colonial postal system. Congress recognized Franklin’s contribution and named him the first postmaster general.
After his retirement, Ben Franklin pursued his love for science and inventing. During this time, he invented the lightning rod, which helped prevent many fires to buildings and houses. Franklin’s other inventions included: bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, and the glass armonica (History). Bifocal glasses have a lens where the top half is for distance and the bottom half is for reading. He invented the glasses to correct the condition of presbyopia, which he suffered from. Presbyopia is when people lose the ability to focus on nearby things. The Franklin stove was invented to help heat up houses more efficiently. The glass armonica was a recreation of upright wine goblets with differing amounts of water in the glasses. Franklin’s invention was a modification that consisted of thirty glass bowls that laid on one surface (The Electric). Benjamin Franklin liked to invent things that would make people’s lives less complicated.
Even with the many contributions that helped communities, Franklin’s greatest accomplishments came later on. Franklin was elected the Pennsylvania delegate to the Congress for the Second
Continental Congress. This is where Franklin and many other men looked over the Revolutionary War and how the country was going to declare its independence. Because America and Great Britain could not reach an agreement, it was time for the colonists to officially declare their independence from Great Britain. Franklin was also involved in the major event that was documented through the Declaration of Independence, which helped to shape the future of this country. He was part of the five-member committee that drafted the Declaration that was later approved by the Continental Congress (Benjamin). Being a part of drafting the declaration of Independence means that Franklin and the other men involved had a great amount of influence on representing the nation. While Thomas Jefferson drafted the document, Franklin was the one to edit it, due to his background as a talented writer (PBS).
Besides being a part of one of the most important documents in American History, Benjamin Franklin played a key role in acquiring European support by being a part of the Committee of Secret
Correspondence. The Committee sent Franklin to France because he was greatly admired there. Even though France was already supplying America with weapons and money, Franklin’s main goal was to get France to sign a treaty of alliance with America. After negotiating for nearly two years, France finally agreed to sign the Treaty of Alliance, which agreed to mutual defense against Britain. In addition, Franklin was able to persuaded France to sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which promoted trade between the countries and recognized the United States as independent. Because Franklin was well respected in France, he became the representative American to France and was then named the minister plenipotentiary to France. With his newfound title, it is no surprise that Franklin was the American representative present for the Treaty of Paris. This treaty ended the Revolutionary War between the United States and Britain and officially recognized America as being independent of Britain.
After becoming a sovereign country, delegates from each colony came together to form a nation constitution. Franklin was a delegate for Pennsylvania. Franklin had his own ideas of what he wanted for the Constitution. Instead of having one person being in charge of the executive power, which is now the presidential position, he felt that it should be a group of people. Franklin also thought that there should only be one legislative branch, but there ended up being three. Even though some of Franklin’s ideas were not what the majority favored, he still had a part in contributing to the Constitution. Franklin was also a big help in what was called the “Great Compromise. This was an argument between the men representing the large and small states. The compromise was that each state would have two representatives in the Senate and the amount of people who represented the state in Congress depended on population (PBS). He wrote a speech to read on the last day of the convention, but due to an illness, James Wilson read Franklin’s speech aloud. In the speech, Franklin admits he does not approve of everything in the Constitution, but he asked for everyone involved to keep their keep their private ideals and beliefs to themselves (Benjamin).
With a starting career of being a distinguished printer and author, Franklin seemed to exceed everyone’s expectation of the ordinary man in the 1700s. Being an ordinary man and making such an impact on his nation for so many years, is the reason why he can be looked at as one of the most influential man in America between 1607 and 1865. Being the son of a candle maker and an elementary school dropout did not set Benjamin Franklin up for a successful, diplomatic life helping to start what would become the greatest country in the world. Besides being elected Pennsylvania’s delegate to Congress, Franklin’s achievements also included being involved with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. While these documents had a great part in shaping the United States, Franklin’s greatest achievement was being the minister plenipotentiary to France. The work that Franklin put into debating and convincing France in order to help America become an independent nation with an ally. With all of his achievements, Benjamin Franklin had great influence on our nation and helped lead the way for the next generations to work hard to make America the strong world power it is today. He influenced everyone’s ideas on how to be a respected diplomat, who always kept the needs and values of his country first.
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