Benjamin Franklin



Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin was a remarkably talented man. He started his career
as a simple printer apprentice, but went far beyond the printers shop. He
developed products that were far beyond the time. The Franklin stove for
example, for cold winter nights and bifocal lenses for reading. Franklin
tracked storm paths to help understand the wicked weather endured by the
colonies. His study of electricity made him most famous for he was known around
the world as the inventor of the lightning rod. Not only was Ben Franklin
helpful in developing ideas for better living, he was also a strong force in
developing the new nation of America. Benjamin Franklin\'s political views
showed him to be a man who loved freedom and self-government. His views towards
Britain gradually changed from favor to disfavor until he finally became a
revolutionist at the age of 70. But more than just his political views help in
the formation of the United States. His common sense, his whit, and his ability
to negotiate behind the scenes, all lent a hand in the formation of the new
country across the sea. Franklin\'s good humor and gift for compromise often
helped prevent bitter disputes which could have stalled the formation of the new
government.
Interestingly, Ben Franklin, who was a chief participant in the battle
for independence, “had a lot to lose by it.” (Wright 1986, page 204). He had a
residence in London and was influential in England. However, his love of
liberty and his desire to promote the well being of Pennsylvania pushed him
toward independence for the colonies. Franklin had to wrestle with his
conscience over his own private affairs. Also, since he was well respected in
England, he was "the Establishment man-even if he felt now a deep unease on the
basic question: What was the authority of Parliament over the American
colonies?" (Wright, page 205). At first Franklin wanted the colonies to be and
independent free nation under the caring and protecting umbrella of the British
Empire. "He had dream...of a great British Empire, gridding the globe, based
upon a commonwealth of free nations, each with its own laws, its own government
and freedoms, but bound together by compact with the Crown for mutual benefit,
mutual defense, and the propagation of English freedoms." (Schoenbrun 1976,
page 5). As stated earlier, Franklin did not contemplate separation from
Britain for he regarded Britain as “having the freest, best government in the
world.” (Ketcham 1993,page3). Franklin proposed self-government for the
American colonies. Historically, Ben Franklin was in favor of self-government.
In fact, nearly forty years of service as a public official began when Franklin
was elected for the Pennsylvania Assembly. At first, he wanted to get support
for various civic causes but soon partisan politics held his undivided attention.
Further, as the legislature strategist and writer for the weakly formed Quaker
party, "he defended the powers of the elected representatives of the people.
Franklin thus the virtues of self-government a generation before the Declaration
of Independence." (Ketcham, page 3).
Further, Benjamin Franklin\'s political views with regard to various
British taxation upon the colonists show him leaning away from Britain. The
Townshend Acts, Stamp Act, and other taxes and duties on colonial goods were
opposed by Franklin. He wrote in connection with the American Stamp Acts, “The
Sovereignty of the British Legislature out of Britain, I do not understand.”
(Wright, page 207). Franklin felt that the colonies were capable of writing
their own legislation. The colonies had their own parliaments and Franklin was
confidant that these assemblies could properly legislate for the colony. In one
of Franklin\'s letters he writes that possibly an extreme case would be best. “
Either Parliament could make all the laws for the colonies on it could make none,
and he preferred to latter view.” (Aldrige 1965, page 195). The crisis brought
about by the Stamp Act propelled Franklin into a new role as chief defender of
American rights in Britain. At first, Franklin urged to colonists to be
obedient to the act until it could be repealed. However, when Franklin beard of
the violent protest against it in America, he became more opposed to it. “After
the repeal of the Stamp Act, Franklin reaffirmed his love for the British Empire
and his desire to see the union of mother country and colonies, but he also
warned that the colonist wanted liberty and would stop at nothing to achieve it.”
(Ketcham, page 3).
Not only did Benjamin Franklin love liberty, he also had great skill as
a diplomat. In this role, Franklin and his two grandsons sailed