There is no question that, as the American colonies grew, a number of hardships were faced and subsequently overcome by its European settlers and later colonialists. Three men, John Smith, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, are often discussed in the context of the new land they encountered, the new government and its guiding principles they either formed or attempted to form, and the new culture that developed from the efforts they applied. All three men, in their own respective manner, were revolutionary in their approach to facing these challenges and displayed unique skills in the art of literary persuasion.
When John Smith first set foot on the North American continent, it was uncharted territory for European settlers. Many, if not most, of the first Jamestown settlers, died from Native American raids, starvation, disease, and exposure. While Smith spent only two years attempting to establish a government in the New World, it was his writings that would have a profound influence on England and its subsequent North American formation of Colonial government (Vaughan).
Smith was a military man at heart who had fought as a mercenary in several skirmishes for Eurasian forces, including the Turks (Vaughan). As one of Jamestown's first leaders (he served as Virginia's President for one year), he ruled with an iron fist and dealt with the Native Americans (as well as his fellow settlers) ruthlessly. He also insisted on a sort of socialism, a democracy even, where all citizens of the new settlement worked for "the common good" (Vaughan).
After leaving North America in 1609, he became an advocate for the English settlement of the Continent and championed its abundance of natural resources in about a dozen tracts until his death in 1631. He even stated: "There is more than enough [in America] for all." (Vaughan). He urged the conquest of the "New Continent" and also insisted that it should be called "New England". Smith's abilities at persuasion via literature played a key role in English charter corporation's future gambles in settling the New World as well as those who sought freedom from religious persecution in the "Old World".
Benjamin Franklin was another pioneer of a different sort than Smith. Franklin was not an explorer or a military man but he had a penchant for both persuasive literature and diplomacy. The legacy he left behind in the formation of the early American republic is still felt today. He was also a bona fide inventor, a self-taught man of reason and science.
As most Americans know, Franklin began his literary career as "Poor Richard". Due to Franklin's lowly status as his brother's newspaper apprentice, Franklin wrote letters under his now-famous pen name, Poor Richard. Poor Richard aka Benjamin Franklin began his career in persuasive writing at a tender age and his persuasive abilities transferred well to his living abroad in England as well as his influence in catalyzing the American Revolution (The Electric Ben Franklin).
About 150 years after the brash Smith had tried to tame the new land that the English called Virginia, Ben Franklin was on his way to England (in 1757) to negotiate on behalf of colonists in Pennsylvania in a battle over who should represent the colony. It was a mission of diplomacy and Franklin found himself associating with various members of the Royal family as he represented the colonial interests. Franklin considered himself a loyal Englishman but rebellion was brewing in the Colonies. It nearly came to a head with the Stamp Act that the English Parliament passed in 1765 but Franklin helped convince the staunch members of Parliament to repeal what most colonists thought was an unfair law (The Electric Ben Franklin).
Franklin witnessed corruption among the English nobles and politicians. He decided to attempt to implement a plan that he had conceived in 1754, the concept of united colonies as opposed to colonies that had competing interests. By and large, the colonists had grown weary of unfair English rule and the Crown's shameless taxation. Franklin added fuel to the fire when he "leaked" documents of Thomas Hutchinson, an English-appointed governor who pretended to be loyal to the interests of the colonists but, in fact, served the interests of the English rulers. Franklin left England and England left an indelible impression on Franklin who eventually sided with American independence from English rule (The Electric Ben Franklin).
Finally, Franklin could apply his literary skill to formulating the principles of a new nation, the United States of America. He was elected to the Second Continental Congress and, with four other leaders, helped draft the Declaration of Independence. The rest of his achievements form the foundation of American history. Franklin's formative years writing as "Poor Richard" and his years of allegiance-turned-rebellion against English rule profoundly influenced the currents of his philosophic and democratic infusions to the drafting and signing of our Country's two most important documents, the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Signed 13 years apart, these accomplishments earned Franklin the honor of being commonly considered one of the fledgling nation's "Founding Fathers" (American History: from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond).
John Adams was another significant contributor to American independence from British Imperial Rule. Like his fellow politician and diplomat, Adams found himself in a unique period of early American history. His background also played a significant role in how he evolved into being a key contributor to early American thought and literature.
Coincidentally, Adams became involved with the politics of the time over the colonies' case for independence with his vehement opposition to the Stamp Act in 1865. The same act that Franklin initially sided with, Adams lamented, denied the colonists their consent to taxation as well as denying them the right to be tried by a jury of their peers. Similar to Franklin, Adams earned his first literary praise as a journalist who published a serial piece in The Boston Gazette in response to the Stamp Act's unfairness (John Adams: Biography).
However, Adams's legal career suffered when he represented British soldiers who were involved in the infamous Boston Massacre. His persuasive skills convinced the jury to acquit six of eight British soldiers who were on trial for their involvement in the incident.
Adams played a more direct role in American politics and in the Revolutionary War itself than the aging Franklin. Adams, who served as our Country's first Vice-President, served as its second President. Adams was indeed a busy man. At one point, he served on nearly 90 committees shortly after the United States declared its independence. He also played a role in the military as he oversaw the Continental Army in his position as Head of the Board of War and Ordinance (John Adams: Biography).
Adams also co-signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. His earlier experiences as a colonial rebel helped shape his ideals as a politician. He was fair-minded but was also characterized as strong-willed, qualities he would need to negotiate the Treaty of Paris which helped bring the Revolutionary War to a diplomatic end. Adams faced military challenges during the Revolutionary War and faced diplomatic and political challenges afterward, as one of our Nation's Founding Fathers. His earlier experiences swaying colonial juries in favor of the innocence of British soldiers was brought to bear in his diplomatic skills, and later, as a signer and as one of the most prominent politicians in American history.
In conclusion, three prominent men, John Smith, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, met different challenges in the "New World". These challenges were geographical, cultural, and political as well as militaristic. Influenced by their individual experiences in the "New World", each of these men utilized their literary talents to help forge an indelible identity on both the American Colonies and the nation they birthed, The United States of America.
"American History: from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond." http://www.let.rug.nl. n.p., Web. 8 June 2014.
"John Adams: Biography." http://www.biography.com/people/john-adams, n.p., Web. 8 June 2014.
"The Electric Ben Franklin." ushistory.org. n.p., Web. 8 June 2014.
Vaughan, Alden T. Retrieved on 6/08/14 from http://www.history.com/topics/john-smith.