Benjamin Franklin was one of the most Influential men of the eighteenth century. He was the only man to sign all of these four major documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Constitution of the united States, and the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain. Franklin was an inventor, a philosopher, a writer, a musician, and he actively participated in many congressional articles used by the government of the United States of America. His tombstone, however, simply referred to him as “printer”, reflecting his great humility.
One of the wings he was most Influential In was the separation of the American colonies from British rule. In fact, Benjamin Franklin was vital to the success of the American Revolution. So Just who was this great man? Born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706, Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth child of seventeen brothers and sisters. His father, Josiah Franklin, was a candle and soap maker. Benjamin attended school for Just two years; his father decided that his education was too expensive and after the age of ten, Benjamin helped his father cut wicks and melt tallow for the shop.
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However, Benjamin practiced self-education by reading all the books he could obtain. In the end, he became one of the most well-educated men of his time, according to Malcolm Sessile. When American colonists began to vie for freedom in 1775, Benjamin Franklin had many reasons for supporting the revolution. At first, however, he made no comment on which side he supported. In truth, he was walling to publicize his opinion until he could convert two loyalists who were very dear to him. First was his longtime friend and ally Joseph Galloway. Second was his own son, William Franklin.
Benjamin revealed his loathing for England’s recent atrocities to his son in private. He despised British rule because of the recent corruption in the system. Walter Caisson states that William was concerned for his father, but both he and Galloway remained loyalists. Franklin sought after a way to keep America and England under one empire, but he knew that this would only occur if Britain would cease Its oppression of the American people. When it became obvious that the King would not stop his endless taxes and limits on trade, a fight for independence became the only clear way to put n end to it.
Unfortunately, not every American saw the issue as clearly as Franklin. Most were afraid of the consequences to a rebellion against British rule. John Dickinson, put forward the last appeal to England on July 5. It later became known as the Olive Branch Petition, in which Congress called for the King to “come to America’s rescue”. On the same day the petition was sent out, Franklin finally decided to let the public know where he stood on this great political Issue. Rather than giving a moving speech or making obviously rebellious actions, Benjamin chose to write a letter to a ear friend In England, William Astrakhan. Entry to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations! You and I were long friends: You are now my enemy, and I am, Yours,” According to Caisson, the most peculiar thing about this letter was that Franklin never actually sent it to Astrakhan. Instead, he allowed it to be circulated amongst the public so that the American people would know where he would indefinitely stand throughout the revolution.
Having made his opinion public, Franklin could now express his opinions on what o do in order to break America away from the grasp of the British. On July 21, Franklin presented his Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The plan was similar to his Albany Plan, written a year earlier, in which “an international Congress would be loyal to the King. ” The major difference in his new plan was that the union could exist without English rule to govern them. Franklin also suggested that each state’s representation should be based on population rather than equal representation in both small and large states.
However, Franklin realized that this as mostly a declaration of independence from England, which hadn’t gained enough support amongst the Americans for Benjamin to force a vote. So, it can be concluded, Franklin was very much ahead of his time in writing the Articles as America now uses the proportional representation system when electing officials and Congress eventually wrote a declaration against British rule anyway. Franklin would often go on missions for Congress. The first trip was to Cambridge in October 1775.
His second mission was to Canada in March 1776. Throughout the second trip, Franklin became severely ill and, upon his return home, he was driven for months. While Franklin was still lying sick in his bed, he was appointed as chairman of a committee whose purpose was to draft a declaration of America’s independence. The committee also included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson composed the core of the document. When he had finished his first draft, he asked Franklin to make any alterations that he felt necessary.
Franklin made a few changes, such as “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” to “We hold these truths to be self-evident”. On July 2, the Continental Congress voted for independence. The declaration was passed two days later on July 4. A month later on August 2, the official signing took place. John Hancock signed first, afterwards saying “There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together. “(locations, 309-313). Franklin replied, “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately” (Sparks, Chi. >0. Admiral Richard Howe asked the King to be in charge of negotiations between England and America. Through the King, he sent a letter to Congress which would pardon their rebellious actions if they would step down and cease all talk of a new action. He also sent a private letter to Franklin in which he expressed his hope that America would accept the offer that the King had given. Franklin replied that he was sorry to hear this, because “it must give his Lordship pain to be sent so far on so hopeless a business. Benjamin later added, “Long did I endeavor, with unfeigned and unwearied zeal, to preserve from once broken, the separate parts could not retain even their share of the strength or value that existed in the whole, and that a perfect reunion of those parts could scarce ever be hoped for. Your Lordship may possibly remember the tears of Joy hat wet my cheek, when, at your good sister’s in London, you once gave me expectations that a reconciliation might soon take place. I had the misfortune to find those expectations disappointed, and to be treated as the cause of the mischief I was laboring to prevent.
My consolation under that groundless and malevolent treatment was that I retained the friendship of many wise and good men in that country and, among the rest, some share in the regard of Lord Howe. ” Franklins response to Howe “closed the door” to any other forms of negotiation (Sparks, Chi. 1>0. Howe requested to meet with some members of Congress two weeks later saying that ace would be possible under the terms set out in the Olive Branch Petition sent in a year earlier. Congress sent Franklin, Adams, and Rutledge to hear any proposition Howe had to make.
Adams, a true patriot, was sent to prevent Franklin from returning to his pacifist ways. Franklin, however, was quite adamant at turning down any offer of peace the British sought for. They met on September 11 at a house within British lines. When they returned to Congress, they reported that Howe had made no true offer of peace and that his powers allowed him to do nothing more (Caisson, 1″20). Two weeks later, Franklin was chosen to become an envoy in Paris with the goal of obtaining an alliance between America and France against England. Franklin reached Paris on December 21 .
He was instantly popular among the French people. He would be constantly visited by civilians and soldiers alike. As he told the soldiers of America’s position and need for aid, each soldier became anxious to help out the friends of Benjamin Franklin (Sparks, Chi. X). While in Paris, Franklin built a private press in his home where he printed the inspiring documents coming out of America, such as the Declaration of Independence and his Pennsylvania constitution as a way of informing the French of America’s dire need of troops and support (Caisson, 43).
Franklin was sent to first set up a treaty of commerce between America and France. Next, he was to trade for or purchase eight warships manned and ready for battle. He was to borrow money for America’s cause, to gather military supplies, and to put the United States flag on each warship unless France did not approve. Benjamin was also there to see where the rest of Rupee’s allegiance was and to ask f the United States could be considered as a new country so that trade could begin between the other foreign powers and America. He was able to procure most of the items he came for one way or another.
The French government refused to give any warships, so he had them built. He had to do so in secrecy in order to protect France from unwillingly stepping into America’s war (Sparks, Chi. X). The simple clothes Franklin wore despite his high popularity caused many of the French to be in a constant state of awe when seeing him. Crowds would anticipate his arrival whenever he came to Paris (Sparks, Chi. X). Benjamin refused to wear the ceremonial clothing that others would wear at court. He would dress in a plain brown suit and a round, marten fur cap with his spectacles as the only adornment.
He carried a hat of pure white under his arm. Some believed it to be a symbol of liberty. Hats (Caisson, 43). Franklin had been in France for more than ten months when the French finally chose to Join America’s cause. The decision came hesitantly from some of the ministers, like Turbot. Frequent battle losses in the 1776 campaign made even the King of France skeptical, but when France received word of America’s recent successes in battle in December 4, 1777, many were swayed toward the United States. Two days later, France Joined in the American Revolution (Sparks, Chi.
X). According to Walter Caisson, “the combination of Franklins realist and idealist appeals eventually brought France into the war on America’s side, which proved critical to its victory in the Revolution” (43). Ambassadors of each foreign nation were not allowed to address Franklin in public as their countries had not yet recognized the independence of America. However, many of them would seek his friendship and counsel in private (Sparks, Chi. X). He often seemed like a father figure due to both his age and his great wisdom.
The French minister produced the Treaty of Alliance, which both America and France signed before any French action could take place. It’s requirements included: a. Both parties to assist each other as comrades and friends. B. The alliance’s goal to be “the liberty, sovereignty, and independence” of the United States. C. Territories in the northern part of the continent that the Americans gain possession of to remain under control of America after the war. D. British-controlled islands near the Gulf of Mexico that the French gain session of to remain under control of France after the war. . Neither party can accept peace terms with Britain without first gaining the consent of the other party. Both France and America were allowed to offer this treaty to other nations as well. In conclusion, the man who labeled himself as a simple printer could never have imagined the impact he would make on the world. Even today, people recognize how Benjamin Franklins influence as a statesman, internally within America and externally in foreign countries, played a major role in the formation of the United States of America. His words and actions laid the foundation of a new way of life.