The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin Analysis

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is considered one of the most acclaimed pieces of American literature. Franklin is known as one of the “Founding Fathers,” a person who composed three of the most important documents in the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution. He is also acknowledged for his many sayings and inventions. Franklin was also very well known across the Atlantic in Great Britain. He helped mediate the peace treaty that granted United States of their independence from England. Yet, Franklin was deep-dyed British patriot. But the question is, is Benjamin Franklin British, or American?

When Benjamin Franklin died at the age of 84 in Philadelphia, he was worshipped as an American founding father and patriot. He was a key person for getting France into the Independence War. Franklin was, as the President of the United States John Adams agreed, the second most important person in attaining the victory of the United States under George Washington. For most of his life, Ben Franklin expressed himself as a British royalist. He enjoyed over 20 years of his life overseas in London, until 1775, when it was mandatory for him to vanish.

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Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 6, 1706. He was the 15th child and youngest son of Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. At age 12, Franklin spent most of his free time as a printer with his brother James. When he was not printing for his brothers newspaper New England Courant, he was busy reading and studying his British books. Boston was the largest town at the time of British America, but the population of 12,00 was not even close to the amount of people there was in London, the greatest city in the western world. Most of the books Franklin was reading were imported from London. He was reading authors such as Locke, Defoe, Swift, and the Spectator of Addison and Steele. He described Joseph Addison as “a man whose writing has contributed more to the improvement of the minds of the British nation, and polishing their manners, than those of any other English pen whatever”(Goodwin, page 1).

Franklin started echoing Addison’s literary style, and at the age of 16, he anonymously sent a sarcastic piece to the Courant, named ‘Silence Dogood.’ It was such a gleaming piece of writing, in fact, that his brother James, didn’t think twice about putting it on the front page, all without knowing who the author was. The blossoming Franklin decision to keep his name private seemed to be a wise one, but once he made his name public, his brother James, was enraged. Franklin left Philadelphia to take the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel to London.

Franklin’s short time as a printer has a huge effect on him. Young Franklin was discouraged when he couldn’t meet his idol, Issac Newton. He did indeed meet Hans Sloane, Newton’s Royal Society collaborator and close. Franklin was inclined to live in London permanently. Instead he came back to Philadelphia as a printer, and soon later set up his own printing company. It was very successful, so much in fact, he retired from the business at the age of 42. Having attained so much money, he wanted to find fame through his electrical experiments, which later grew into the invention of the lightning rod.

In the 1750s, Franklin created another life through public service. Over the decades, he founded some of America’s most prestigious institutions: the American Philosophical Society and the Liberty Company, which soon became the University of Pennsylvania. As representative of Pennsylvania at the Congress of Albany in 1754, Franklin wanted to unite the hostile American colonies more securely under the British rule. This action seemed like it was necessary in order to extend Great Britain’s rule over some parts of North America at the expense of the French.

Franklin was adamant in supporting British rule. Thus, the Albany Plan was established. The Albany Plan created a defense pact among the colonies to have one man under British command, and that man was to be called the President General. However, it was too advanced for the colonies, who in the end rejected it. Now Franklin began to concentrate on the tasks of his own colony, and in 1757, he returned to London.

Franklin enjoyed every minute in London. Science captured Franklin’s eye when in London, and in turn, made him one of the most famous scientists alive. This title gave him connections to key players in governments who battled for their interest in science as did politics. In 1760, Franklin was overjoyed when a new king came into power, King George III. In 1762, the king’s former tutor, the Earl of Bute, became the prime minister and had a close relationship with Franklin. Bute was in power when the Seven Years’ War was coming to an end that resulted in lowering the risk of French invasion of North America. Unfortunately, there was dissatisfaction at the peace terms with France, and Bute was attacked in parliament and had physical threats from mobs and in the end, Bute resigned. His successor, George Grenville was not close with the king, nor was Franklin.

Grenville had one goal: to make Americans finance the British army on their soil. Franklin came up with the idea to have a paper money scheme, that in the end would boost tax revenues. Grenville rejected it and introduced the Stamp Tax that would be incorporated into most transactions. This was a huge problem for Marquess of Rockingham, who took over Grenville as prime minister in 1765. This was a huge problem for Franklin who let the Stamp Act happen, and found himself getting bashed in Philadelphia. But Franklin was part of a solution, he was an expert on America and later appeared before the committee on February 13, 1766. In the end, the Stamp Act was abolished. In July 1766, Rockingham was replaced by William Pitt, the man responsible for the Seven Years’ War. While Pitt was favored by both sides of the ocean, this should’ve been the moment that Britain and the Americas had a relationship. During all this mess, Charles Townshed, chancellor of the Exchequer, enforced a tax on items sent to America, like tea. With the introduction of Townshed, Franklin was worried about Britain separating from the American colonies. To make things better, Franklin tried building a relationship with the Anglo-colonial relations. One way that Franklin tried to do was be at the meeting of New Jersey, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. This made Franklin the representative of the American colonies in Britain.

Franklin’s interests in America and Britain joined forces when in January of 1774, he was asked to be present at the Cockpit offices of the Privy Council, to answer questions about this outbreak, known today as the Boston Tea Party. He was entertainment to the council, until he brought up the demeaning denouncement of the solicitor general, Alexander Wedderburn. Franklin did not flee Britain after the Cockpit, but stayed in London for more than a year after that. He began meeting with Chatman to develop a plan for parliament, to resolve the issue with the American colonies. In February of 1775, Chatman presented it to the House of Lords, hoping it would bring some change to the government. Rather, the Earl of Sandwich, with the assistance of the administration, treated Chatman’s plan with distaste. As for Franklin, who was Chatman’s guest, Sandwich looked at him and told him that he was one of the most rude enemies that the country had seen. On the other hand, Franklin was not discouraged, even though him getting arrested was probably going to happen, he managed to get in some last minute negotiations before returning back to the States.

In conclusion, I think that Franklin is considered American because he was only over in Britain to help the Americans get alliance with the people who have been controlling them for so long. He was only doing the right thing by being there, to be a representative for the United States, and to help Britain and America become friends. 


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