Benjamin Franklin and Democratic Citizenship
Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, Boston, Massachusetts. He was the tenth born son of a candle maker and soap. In his early years, Benjamin went through a formal education. However, he was among people who were self-taught and principles at that time. He worked for both his father and his brother as a printer. In the year 1721, he established the New England Courant, which became the fourth paper in the colonies. His first writings were 14 essays which he published in this newspaper. Due to his unconventional beliefs on religion coupled with his disagreements with Bostonians, he departed to Philadelphia. He was employed in Philadelphia as a printer but a year later, he moved to London and spent two years.
However, Benjamin returned to Philadelphia and published The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1730. The Gazette gained popularity in colonies and later it was known all over Europe. By 1748, Benjamin had gained popularity because of his philanthropic mind and the stimulus he channelled to educational institutions, hospitals and libraries. Furthermore, he was interested in venture into politics and science. In 1736, he was employed as a clerk in colonial legislature office. He also worked as a deputy postmaster of Philadelphia and as the deputy postmaster general representing the colonies. In 1754, he was among the people who were called to unite the French and Indian war in what was known as the Albany Congress. Franklin travelled and resided in various colonies and countries in Europe. However, he is celebrated for his teachings in his Autobiography which are taught even today
The Autobiography is among the self-help books that Franklin wrote. The book covers his early life and he writes it to advise his son. The most interesting parts of the book describe his scientific scheme of self-improvement. The work was not printed until 1817 because of the delays of William Temple Franklin, his grandson. In the book, Franklin has identified both his strengths and weaknesses. He was not much concerned with his feelings but rather the principles that could make a strong character. One of the ways that the book contributed to democratic citizenship is that he successfully managed to demonstrate himself and his thoughts independently. Through, expressing himself freely, he felt he embraced the American Ideal. Therefore, he attained his goal because his Autobiography portrayed him as a liberal person to be emulated by future generations in America.
Attaining the American dream simply means that one can overcome all the challenges in expressing him or herself. In the Autobiography, Benjamin puts more attention to the virtues that addressed the common people. He had put a strict stance against the old values of the world which did not allow anyone to question the laws they received from the Kings. This makes Franklin a true democratic person who left at nothing to express independence of minds. Franklin addressed themselves to the common man than anyone else at that time. Most of his writings were directed to the common citizens. He was a man who embraced democracy to the fullest.
Democracy is the government of the people and they rule by the majority. Franklin believed that the common people are the most important people in the colonies and the entire United States. The Autobiography outlines him as a man who was among the elite but he chose to value the common man, He was known as a representative of the American Ideal and culture more than other heroes like Washington. He is also known for his inspiring quotes that inspired the people of Americans. At one time, he said “Democracy is two halves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is the well-armed lamb that is contesting the vote.” Therefore, his contribution could not go unnoticed by the Americans.
Additionally, the Autobiography revealed that the potential to attain the American ideal dream relied on literacy and writings. When he was a clerk, Benjamin used to loan books from a prominent Philadelphian despite their differences because he had failed to approve his clerkship at the Pennsylvania assembly. These books increased his knowledge, his goal of being a clerk at the Pennsylvania gave him an opportunity to bring his influence in politics. Therefore, according to him, the American dream was rooted in the power of someone to read and write. During that time, there was little formal education that was being offered. To make the dream a reality, he established the first circulating library. He received books from members of Junto group and donations. This made him a hero because he established the first public library in America.
Franklin’s definition of American dream meant that everybody had the privilege and opportunity to learn freely and earn the same education regardless of the social class or background. Therefore, according to him, everybody was supposed to be treated equally regarding acquiring literacy. A man can earn prosperity, community respect and economic security through hard work and treat all people around him in a fair way. Therefore, Franklin noted that handwork was the avenue through which someone can reach to greatness. Most of the countries in Europe had embraced a clearly defined class structure where social and political institutions favoured the wealthy more than the common people who were poor. Therefore, through the Autobiography, Franklin expressed that the possibilities for practising frugality, virtues and honesty were limitless.
His life dictated the proof of these assumptions. For instance, he freed Boston at the age of 17 years. At this time, he had the only little formal education that he had acquired while he was at home as well as the knowledge of the trade. When he arrived in Philadelphia, he was penniless. However, he managed to work and make a fortune for his livelihood while there. Any leader would agree that that kind of a career is possible to any American citizen despite the states of their origin. Various schools around U.S teach Autobiography to students so that they can gain the American dream and democratic vision just like Franklin Benjamin. Therefore, the book is an important writing that can achieve the expectations of the Americans.
Through, Autobiography, American students learn that even the common citizen was an important member of the community just like the wealthy citizens. The potential of the lowliest citizen to acquire knowledge could impact and motivate many people. Thus, Franklin is celebrated as a hero who brought sense to democratic citizenship and equality in U.S. therefore; America is a beautiful land with endless opportunity for all citizens. Franklin’s prestige and personal example made American dream to become a self-evident reality to all moralists from all parts of the world.
The Autobiography reveals the art of sociability that makes Franklin envied by many people. The facility in which he made friends is a constant source of delight to all readers of the book. He had successfully managed to master all the varied environments he travelled without any contempt on anyone of them. From Boston to Philadelphia to Imperial London and France, he showed his ability to influence decisions in a friendlier manner. The book concentrates his facility and attention to people and his communication to people. Therefore, he Autobiography portrays Franklin his sociability as a convenience rather than as something that was native to him. He perceived social order as based on proper education of mutual accommodation by members rather than on what it suppressed.
In conclusion, Benjamin’s Autobiography has painted him as both a hero and a Democrat to the people of Americans. The writings remain important because they remind the American citizens about humility, handwork and honesty. Therefore, it is important that the writings continue to be used in schools because it gives students a reason to work hard and be honest throughout their life. Furthermore, the Franklins ideas teach the modern societies that honesty and handwork are always placed before money if the American dream is to exist. The American dream originates individuals self and should not be determined or influenced by influenced from outside.
Franklin, Benjamin. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin: Volume 41: September 16, 1783, through February 29, 1784. Vol. 41. Yale University Press, 2014. 146-202
Zimmerman, Barry J., and Dale H. Schunk, eds. Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theory, research, and practice. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012. 82-137