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					Benjamin Franklin
  (1706-1790)


            American Literature I
                      10 /18/2004
                Cecilia H. C. Liu
        The Age Of Reason
Enlightenment thought was, in part, a product
 of the Scientific Revolution. There is
 justification to present the Enlightenment as
 the Age of Reason because of intellectual
 advancements that promoted a scientific
 approach to political, social, and economic
 issues, because of the development of the
 concept of human progress, and because of the
 acceptance of the state as its instrument.
Newtonian science , seventeenth century
 empiricism, and enlightened thought are
 "progressive" steps in the western intellectual
 tradition fostering the belief in universal order
 and natural law .
     Franklin as an Inventor (1)
• Franklin has made important
  discoveries and advancements,
  and invented the lightning rod.
• In colonial America, most people
  warmed homes by building a fire
  in a fireplace and Franklin made
  an invention of an iron furnace
  stove to allow people warm their
  homes less dangerously and with
  less wood. The furnace stove that
  he invented is called a Franklin
  stove. Interestingly, Ben also
  established the first fire company
  and the first fire insurance
  company in order to help people
  live more safely.
    Franklin as an Inventor (2)
• Franklin has figured out
  routes for delivering the
  mail, and invented a
  simple odometer and
  attached it to his carriage.
• Franklin retired from
  business and public
  service and wanted to
  spend his time reading and
  studying. He found,
  however, that his old age
  had made it difficult for
  him to reach books from
  the high shelves, called a
  long arm to reach the high
  books.
Franklin’s Inventions
  Franklin as an Economist
• Ben Franklin's personal ideas about
  economy helped to shape our country's
  economy. We are lucky that they did
  because Franklin believed that the only true
  way to wealth was through hard work. This
  noble idea became the soul of the
  "American Dream," the idea that all people
  are created equal and each person has the
  same opportunity to achieve success.
          Franklin and Deism
• Deism is defined in Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary,
  1941, as: "[From Latin Deus, God.Deity] The doctrine
  or creed of a Deist." And Deist is defined in the same
  dictionary as: "One who believes in the existence of a
  God or supreme being but denies revealed religion,
  basing his belief on the light of nature and reason."
• This common sense approach to God and a spiritual
  philosophy can not only bring a lasting profound sense
  of peace and happiness to the individual, but it also has
  the potential to go light years in eradicating religious
  fear, superstition and violence.
       Franklin as a Statesman
• Benjamin Franklin stands tall among a small group of men we
  call our Founding Fathers. Ben used his diplomacy skills to serve
  his fellow countrymen. His role in the American Revolution was
  not played out on the battlefields like George Washington, but
  rather in the halls and staterooms of governments. His clear
  vision of the way things should be, and his skill in both writing
  and negotiating, helped him to shape the future of the United
  States of America.
• Ben stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the
  documents which helped to create the United States: the
  Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance,
  Amity, and Commerce with France (1778), the Treaty of Peace
  between England, France, and the United States (1782), and the
  Constitution (1787). He actually helped to write parts of the
  Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. No other
  individual was more involved in the birth of our nation.
     Questions for Discussion 1
• Read Franklin's 1757 text, "The Way to Wealth." Then, select
  any three of Poor Richard's maxims, and write "imitations" of
  them; that is, "plug in" your own words at the appropriate
  points. Example: for "He that hath a trade, hath an estate," one
  could write, "She that hath a husband, hath a curse."
• Note how Franklin frames "The Way to Wealth." It opens upon
  Poor Richard, eavesdropping on a village elder, called Father
  Abraham, who has been asked a question involved with civic
  matters: "Won't these taxes quite ruin the country?" (page 214/
  A 517). But does Father Abraham provide a direct answer to
  that question? Indeed, does he even speak of civic matters at all?
  Endlessly quoting Poor Richard, Father Abraham addresses
  what sphere of human activity? Why? Does he persuade the
  people? Answer and discuss these questions, in several
  paragraphs.
Questions for Discussion 2
• What does Franklin learn from his sojourn among the
  English, for example about their habits of work, self-
  management, and the like?

  Throughout Part I we see Franklin attaching himself to a
  series of older, more powerful men. Now, what if we
  considered this series as the "plot" of Part I? In two or
  three paragraphs, write a summary of that plot, showing
  how and why it leaves him on the verge of public projects
  (the Junto, and the Subscription Library) at the end of Part
  I.
    Questions for Discussion 3
• In what instances does Franklin insist that he is chosen, or called,
  to public service? How are such moments significant?

• In what instances, and by what means, does Franklin seek to
  vigorously persuade, and shape, public opinion? What do these
  moments teach?

• What does Franklin have to say about factions, or parties, in
  politics; and how does he justify his view of them?
                      References
• Enlightenment and Revolution
   http://idcs0100.lib.iup.edu/modernera/favorite.htm
• Deism http://www.deism.com/deism_defined.htm

• Benjamin Franklin: Glimpse of the Man http://sln.fi.edu/franklin/

• Benjamin Franklin Reading Assignments:
  http://www.uky.edu/AS/English/courses/online/eng251/assignment08.html
  http://www.uky.edu/AS/English/courses/online/eng251/assignment09.html
• http://www.uky.edu/AS/English/courses/online/eng251/assignment10.html

				
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posted:9/28/2011
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