Benjamin Franklin is considered to be one of the United States of America Founding fathers. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17,1706, and died in 1790, April 17 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was died at the age of 84 years. Benjamin had the British nationality through birth, but later acquired American nationality when he moved to America. He was one of the Josiah Franklin sons, his father who had a total of seventeen children. When he was 8 years old, he was enrolled in a clerical school but left school at the age of 10.
Benjamin worked for his father who made candles and soaps, and later became his brother James apprentice at age 12. His brother was a printer, who created the first independent newspaper when Benjamin was 15 years old. However, his brother denied him a chance to write in his paper, a situation that made quit and establish his new publication which made him a popular correspondent much later, (Franklin. B, 1996). Benjamin Franklin is known to have suited so many professions. These professions include those of an author, politician, scientist, inventor, printer, a civic activist and a diplomat.
As a scientist, Franklin made inventions and discoveries with some relating to electricity, (lighting rods, Franklin Stove and an Odometer). Benjamin Franklin founded the first American lending library as well as the first fire department in Pennsylvania. As a politician, he supported colonial unity and invented the idea of the American nation. His diplomacy is seen through his contribution to the American independence during the American Revolution. One of the ways in which he did this, was by securing the French alliance during the revolution.
Benjamin Franklin was a re-known scientist and played an important role in the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin and Marshall college establishments. Major positions that Franklin held included, the American Philosophical Society first president, Postmaster General (1775-1776), and the president of Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania (1785-1788), (etext. virginia. edu/toc/modeng/public/fraz/Aut. html). In addition, he was viewed as a national hero when he spearheaded the unpopular Stamp Act repealment in the parliament.
Benjamin Franklin’s life and legacy in the political and scientific fields, and his status as one of the influential founding fathers of the American states has made him to be honored and remembered many years after his death and is recognized for his emphasis on certain character traits in people. In this paper, these traits and how he practiced them will be discussed. His career life will be looked at briefly and how his life and belief made impact on his fellow Americans. Discussion
Benjamin Franklin emphasized thirteen character traits, which he developed at the age of 24 through a project known as the “moral perfection. ” These traits were aimed at promoting virtues, as stated in the second section of Benjamin’s autobiography. Temperance was one of the virtues that Benjamin Franklin advocated for. Through this trait, people were not supposed to eat to dullness nor drink to elevation. In order to eat not to dullness, one was supposed to enjoy their meal, eat only when hungry and stop eating when the stomach is full.
By not drinking to elevation, men are encouraged to drink with personal responsibility, while preventing their dependence on alcohol for their confidence and courage. Silence as a character trait encouraged speaking only when it would benefit people (others or yourself). Trifling conversation was to be avoided. This virtue encouraged people to speak only when it was appropriate and to use the right words when speaking, because a man is always judged by his speech. Order was meant to dictate all things having their places and at the same time letting each part of the business have its time,(Walter.
I, 2003). This would in turn promote peace and tranquility in people’s lives. The fourth virtue, Resolution, advocated for people to resolve to perform what one ought to do, and perform it without any failure. This trait enables one to have firm determination in accomplishing what is intended. The fifth virtue, frugality, discouraged people to waste resources under any circumstances. People should make no expense but instead do well to others and themselves. Too much luxury was believed to make a nation weak and the only way to prosper as a nation would be through frugality, ( Franklin.
B,1996). The sixth virtue, industry, meant that one should not loose time and instead should be employed in doing something useful. In addition, people are expected to cut themselves off from all unnecessary actions by avoiding the use of hurtful deceit as shown in the seventh virtue, sincerity. Innocent and just thoughts were good in a person, where true men are only marked by their honesty and integrity and promote confidence and curbs sarcasm. Justice enables no wrong done to others, either through injuries or by denying others their benefits.
Justice in the society builds people’s constant and perpetual will to render all people their dues. Benjamin Franklin’s ninth virtue, moderation advocated for avoidance of extremes, which is possible, by forbearing resenting injuries only to a level that they people deserves. Cleanliness of the body, clothes or habitation is Benjamin Franklin’s tenth virtue. Under no circumstances was uncleanliness to be tolerated and all aspects of a person’s life were meant to be clean, one quality of good morals. Tranquility discouraged disturbance of the people at trifles.
Chastity as a virtue was meant to promote use of venery only for health or offspring. It should never be used to dullness, weakness or to injure people’s peace or reputation. Humility is the last character trait emphasized by Benjamin Franklin and is said to mark a true man, and is also a symbol of strength courage and authentic confidence,(Walter. I, 2003). Benjamin Franklin’s character traits had their effects on the fellow Americans. One of his character traits, industry was very instrumental in encouraging the Americans’ to work hard and be committed to their duties, ( etext.
virginia. edu/toc/modeng/public/fraz/Aut. html). His involvement in useful activities made him love clubs and societies, which were organized for scientific and business purposes. This promoted in the Americans networking, which skillfully blended business and fellowship. In addition to this, democracy was adopted by the Americans, which is considered to have grown from Benjamin Franklin’s character trait of capacity for comprise in political, social and religious matters. The Americans were said to be “obsessed” with money.
This was attributed to their commitment to exploit the business opportunities in the American land, just like Benjamin Franklin did. They worked hard in their work and were committed to succeed in whatever they did. Furthermore, the Americans became very ambitious which contributed greatly to the nations’ industrialization influenced by the American belief in industry and frugality. Benjamin Franklin’s advocacy for justice saw the abolition of slavery and the integration of the Africans in the American society.
Benjamin Franklin practiced the character traits that he emphasized in people and dedicated every week to one character. His believe in justice contributed to his involvement in the American Revolution, which saw the independence of the United States of America from the British. In addition, he was a councilman in the justice of the Peace for Philadelphia through which he promoted justice for the American citizens. As a founding father, Benjamin Franklin had seen the Greeks and Romans waste its prosperity and to prevent wasting resources he lived a very simple life.
He even went further to eat and dress plainly though he was a wealthy man. This he did in order to remain economically and emotionally independent. Furthermore, he was industrious in all his undertakings. As a scientist, he made various inventions because he always got involved in useful work. He avoided unnecessary actions and even went further to play musical instruments to avoid idleness. His temperance is seen in his behavior of eating only when necessary and drinking in a responsible manner. He had order in all the activities that he carried out and always dedicated time to each aspect of his life’s endeavors.
He read so many books, wrote books, made inventions and carried out his political duties, and diplomatic duties diligently and in an orderly manner. Franklin’s resolution to do certain things enabled him to perform without failure. For example, he resolved to invent his own paper after denial by his brother to write for his own paper. Though he pretended to be a middle-aged widow “Mrs. Silence Dogood,” he became a very popular correspondent and later initiated the birth of the first public lending library, which became a success.
His choice to speak only when it was beneficial to him or others made him to be seen as a very intelligent man who did not speak much. His sincerity and honesty was displayed by his belief that the new republic would only survive if people were virtuous and morally upright. He even attacked the religious dogma, to argue that morals were dependent on virtue and benevolent actions rather than obedience to religious orthodoxy. He rose from a humble Boston candle maker but ended up dining with the kings displaying him as a person who always succeeded.
He was able to communicate with the ordinary people and was able to enjoy the opportunity to cut an aristocratic pretender down to size and was very uncomfortable with few luxuries. For instance, he was uncomfortable with the China cup and silver spoon his wife insisted on purchasing for him. Finally, he practiced the character trait justice by championing for nascent antislavery cause. Benjamin Franklin enjoyed his political career most, which became his life’s central focus even after he retired. His political career is seen in the various positions he held.
For example, he spearheaded the effort of the unpopular Stamp Act repealment by the parliament, (Walter. I, 2003). He was admired as an American minister to Paris and even promoted positive Franco-American relations. He assisted in drafting of the Declaration of independence and was a signatory of the Treaty of Paris, Treaty of Alliance with France and the United States Constitution. He held other political positions such as, the 6th president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania and contributed to both the abolition of slavery and integration of Africans into the American society.
Benjamin Franklin’s scientific career made him a prodigious inventor. For instance, he invented the lighting rod, glass harmonica, bifocal glass and urinary catheter and never patented his inventions, but instead offered them to people to use for free. He appreciated the need to enjoy the advantages of his inventions with the others. Through the American philosophical society, Franklin helped scientific men to discuss their theories and discoveries. I think that Benjamin Franklin’s effort to lead a perfect life was very important in promoting morality in the American society.
Franklin’s behavior of attempting to practice all the thirteen virtues inspires and continues to inspire people to live morally upright even in the modern world. Though Franklin advocated for the virtues, he failed to fulfill all the virtues fully. For example he was a womanizer, using and dropping women when it suited him, which goes against the virtue of chastity. Furthermore he failed in observing justice by owning and buying slaves, before his later campaign against slavery. However, he was a good example of a morally upright leader.
His temperance order; industriousness, silence, cleanliness, frugality and justice were all reflected in his life though he never achieved a “perfect life”, he showed a path towards achieving the “perfect life”. Benjamin Franklin has an impact upon his fellow Americans putting into mind that he was one of the most influential American founders. He has inspired the Americans with his relentless efforts for the American independence seen in his assistance to America by getting French military and financial aid for the American effort, (etext. virginia.
edu/toc/modeng/public/fraz/Aut. html). The Americans’ story of “rags to riches” has been inspired by Franklin’s life, because he rose from a humble background to a high political positions where he dined with the kings. As a founder, Franklin promoted democracy which Americans view as a good system of governance. His life is a good example of America’s identity because he proved that America was a land of opportunity, and he took advantage of the opportunities to triumph over adversity with much ease. Such success could only be experienced in America.
He advocates for frugality where economic independence and financial ability is achieved, which is still a belief in the Americans. His anti-slavery championing later saw the integration of Africans into the American society and his optimism has made Americans get inspired in exploiting opportunities that come by. References Franklin. B, 1996. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Dover Publications. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Electronic Text Center. Virginia Library. etext. virginia. edu/toc/modeng/public/fraz/Aut. html. Retrieved on June 10, 2008 Walter. I, 2003. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon and Schuster