Benjamin Franklin discusses how he is astounded by the intellectual capacity of the African Americans. In a letter written to the John Waring by Franklin, he claims that his thinking dynamic has progressed after a first-hand experience in a Negro school (Franklin 37). Franklin was surprised by the progression African Americans had made in the schools in that their reading and writing capabilities had grown immensely. Given that most white Americans believed African Americans were savages, which dehumanized them, he was impressed by the level of their intellectual capabilities. In addition, Franklin was also moved by the fact that the African Americans picked up on catechism quickly like their male counterparts. Franklin joined the abolitionist movement that was against slavery in the 18th century (Franklin 42). This paper will discuss how Franklin emphasized on the importance of self-education among the Africans Americans to get a better future and advance in the society.
Given that education is one of the social institutions in the human race that determines an individual’s intellectual level and their advancement in the greater community. After Franklin’s visit to a Negro School, he wrote that “they behaved very orderly, showed a proper respect and ready obedience to the mistress and their memory as strong and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children (Franklin 67).” This is important because it shows that Franklin believed that African Americans were not animalistic are depicted by the white community. It is significant to note that the black race was greatly undermined and seen as inferior because of their phenotype. Through observation, Franklin was pleased that the African Americans who went to school picked up learning techniques and skills as the white people who had attained education. Thus, Franklin believed that both races were on an equal Plata if they all enjoyed equal opportunities in the society. This indicates that the white population justified their prejudice against Africans American through being ignorant and believing that they were savages, which made them inferior. Thus, education determined one’s social behavior and through education, Franklin was able to appreciate the African Americans as a race.
Franklin advocated for an education system to be set up for freed African American slaves to socialize them in the community by teaching them ethics and morals of joining the business world (Franklin 87). This shows that Franklin was ready to assimilate the African Americans into the society by overlooking the society’s discrimination against the black race. This was important to the American economy in that the African Americans would join the business industry, which improves the general economy. Education has become a standard social institution across the globe in that people require skills and knowledge as a way of benefiting the greater community. Today, people go to school so that in the future they can get an education. This indicates that education has been treasured highly across centuries because education gives people knowledge and skills. Thus, African Americans had to get an education in order to fit in an elite community where the white people had already valued education.
Capitalism has initiated the art of meritocracy where people have to get higher education to get a top collar job. This means that education is highly valued by elites. On the other hand, those that cannot afford education, do not value intellectual capability but focus on industrial jobs that require manpower. This explains why there is a difference in the occupational structure based on one’s level of education.
Franklin, Benjamin, and Leonard Woods Labaree. The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964. Print.
Franklin, Benjamin, and John Hardin Best. Benjamin Franklin on education. New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1999. Print.