Benjamin Franklin: Man of Personal and Professional Prestige
Benjamin Franklin is reckoned as one of the pillars that led to the founding of United States. He was born in 1706 to Josiah Franklin from England and Abiah Folger from Massachusetts both of whom were from humble backgrounds. His father was a soap and candle maker while the mother was just the daughter of an indentured servant. His mother was the second wife after the death of Anne Child who had already bore three children. Franklin’s father belonged to a Protestant movement called the Puritanism that was a means of cleansing Anglican religion by eliminating all the aspects of the Roman Catholic. The Puritans had values that dictated hard work, democracy and personal touch with God. Ben Franklin’s need to fight for the poor can be traced back to his grandfather on his mother’s side. His grandfather was once jailed because he did not comply with the magistrate’s verdict regarding the shopkeepers and artisans.
Life on Milk Street, Massachusetts was not easy for Franklin because his parents did not have enough money especially to take him to school. Two years past his school attending age, Benjamin Franklin started his studies at Boston Latin School but stopped at the age of ten years due to finances and his parents’ advice. The parents always advised him to take up a career as a church official so it did not require much learning. At the age of twelve, Franklin dropped out of school and helped his father in the soap and candle business. After some months, Franklin started working as an apprentice for this brother who was printer.
After three years Franklin decided to start an independent newspaper known as the New England Courant. His newspaper became very popular but under the alias of Mrs. Silence Dogood. When his elder brother discovered this he was angry and this led to the fleeing of Franklin that made him a fugitive in Milk Street. He settled in Pennsylvania where he worked in printing shops as a typesetter. At twenty years of age he moved to Philadelphia and after a year he formed a reading group known as Junto. This group would meet and discuss issues of controversy in their area and find possible solutions. They later pooled their books and formed a library where they charged outsiders a subscription fee. This was the birth of a great Library to the extent that books could no longer be kept in the librarians’ houses. They were moved to a new house that acted as the central place for all the books and could accommodate numerous readers at once.
His acquaintances with Sir William Keith brought him problems when he wanted to engage his young love known as Deborah Read. When he was seventeen years old he fell in love with her being two years younger than he was so her mother declined the proposal. She attributed this to the fact that he was constantly travelling to England to visit Sir Keith and worse still he was financially unstable. When he came back in 1730, he found his one true love Deborah had gotten married to a conman who already fled with her dowry so she could not remarry or else be accused of bigamy. That same year he married her under the common laws in September and acquired an illegitimate son whom they named William. They also gave birth to a son named Francis two years into their marriage but he died of small pox at the age of four. Seven years after the death of their son, they bore a girl named Sarah in 1743 who became the apple of her father’s eye till death. The marriage between Deborah and Franklin was not as blissful as they had expected since they were always apart because Franklin always went to England. Deborah could not follow him since she had phobia for the sea so she developed stress due to loneliness. She eventually died of stroke in the absence of her husband in 1774 which was sixteen years before he also met his demise.
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Franklin had no luck with his sons William and Francis who brought him sadness in one way or another. First, his legitimate Francis died of Small pox when he was only four years old; a scenario which traumatized him for a very long time. On the other hand, William his illegitimate son was always opposed to his father’s ideologies as pertained to the colonies of Britain. In the beginning, he was the main motivation that made Franklin avoid his England trips but when he became older he rebelled against his father. This rebellion was too much that William joined the British Military in New York that carried out guerrilla attacks in New Jersey. Franklin tried to help him get a pardon but William ran away in 1782 to Britain with his troops and never came back again. The special thing about Franklin is that he was a noble man with a kind heart. This is clear when he took in an illegitimate son whom he loved and cared for despite his rebellious nature. Again, he always succeeded in all the things he was cut out do like the newspaper articles he wrote. He died in 1790 due to respiratory complications and was buried by almost twenty thousand people in the Christ Church. He had written in 1728 that he wanted he did not mind if his body would become food to the worms but he wished his works would be remembered. After his wife’s death he also wrote in his will that his grave should bear the title of ‘Deborah and Benjamin.’ He left approximately a thousand pounds as a bequeath each to the trust foundations he had set up in Boston and Philadelphia.
Role in History
Franklin shaped the future of the United States through many of the activities he engaged in. He set up a fire fighting company in 1736 to improve on the efficiency. He also helped the state of New Jersey to acquire a currency that would not be counterfeited and eventually led to the introduction of paper money. Despite his poor educational background he was accorded the president of college of Philadelphia which thrived under his reign which later became a university. In 1743, he joined politics and became a peace justice where he excelled so much as to be selected as the assistant post master general in all of North America. He reformed the postal sector and increased its efficiency to an extent that mail was sent on a weekly basis. In 1755 he helped in obtained the legal formalities that could be used to set up the first hospital in the whole country: Pennsylvania Hospital. Due to this achievement, Franklin was given an honorary degree by both Yale and Harvard universities.
His personal interests were quite varied and he excelled in each one of them. His interests helped him to interact with great men and together they made great achievements. He was a brilliant chess master and was able to play the violin, harp and guitar. He was a music composer in ancient classical and also upgraded the glass armonica music instrument. He was also interested in Italian language which he was taught by his chess partner and friend. In 1999, his name was set up in the Chess Hall of Fame for his brilliance in historic chess.
Contributions to the world
Franklin was also involved in the scientific revolutions in the world today. He began his studies about electricity by taking a keen interest in whirlwinds. In 1752, he collaborated with Thomas Dalibard in an adventure to obtain electric sparks from the clouds through the use of an iron rod during lighting sessions. The electric charge standard unit was also named after his surname two years after his invention. He also worked alongside Euler to investigate the wave theory of light. Again, he helped John Hadley to observe the use of refrigeration by testing temperatures and evaporation cycles. Michael Faraday gave credit to the works of Franklin in obtaining the variations of temperatures that led to his inventions in electrical conductivity. He also made milestones in oceanography from the trips that he made to England through the sea. In 1776 after the American Revolution, Franklin was appointed as a delegate in the Pennsylvania Assembly and was to help in the Declaration of Independence.
The making of history by man is mutually exclusive to that of history making a man. In essence, it is a situation that can happen in both directions. Given the right environment, history can change a man to do great things. On the other hand, history is made by men who change the situation and make it better for the future generations to remember these milestones. As pertain to the case of Benjamin Franklin, it is evident that this was a great man that wrote history that we appreciate when we recall all his achievements.