Some Things about Benjamin Franklin

In the 1730’s Benjamin Franklin did not consider African or Native Americans as equals. He did not put thought into them at all when thinking of how to improve the quality of life for all Americans. He saw them as unable to be capable of equality because he felt they lacked intellectual intelligence.

He owned slaves. He viewed them as an “investment.”

In 1751, he changed his mind on slavery after visiting a school and watching African-American children. He noticed that they did indeed have the same intellectual intelligence and learning abilities as that of White American children. He saw that their possible contributions to humanity significant and because of this he turned against slavery, publicly condemning it as a “detestable commerce.”

He got involved in abolition and became the president of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery.

He questioned everything.

He was tolerant of people’s religions.

He was commander of a militia that took down the Paxton Boys.

He was his family’s historian. (1)

I have a biography of Benjamin Franklin to read in my personal library. I am very curious about Benjamin Franklin and did not know much about him other than the general knowledge such as his discovery of static lightning. So, I picked up an old college textbook in the free book section of my local library, and when I came to a short essay about him, I found some things that stood out to me as being not only interesting but also important. Benjamin Franklin is a fascinating man because he seems so curious about his world and he devotes his whole life to learning and to the service of others. He never really has a clear path of what he wants.

Benjamin Franklin takes advantage of the opportunities that arise and they direct him to success and achievement. He is not motivated by agendas or thought out plans but uses his experiences to either better himself or others. I find I can relate to him in many ways. I think Benjamin Franklin can teach us a lot about what it means to be a little independent and be able to accomplish things without a roadmap of how to do it. He shows us that we can change our mind over time about issues that are controversial. He shows us the power that knowledge has and how it can lead to opportunities in our lives we could never have dreamed possible.

(1) Meet Dr. Franklin, Richard B. Morris in Portrait of America by Stephen B. Oates, 1999.

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