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The Impact of Benjamin Franklin

Updated on June 18, 2013

What would it be like if the United States hadn’t ever formed at all? What if Britain still reined? Have you ever wondered who lent the most help to the Revolutionary War, to American society? Benjamin Franklin is the name you are looking for. If he hadn’t lived, we would still be in the hands of the British. If he hadn’t lived, we would all be drinking tea right about now. Benjamin Franklin greatly impacted American society so much so that he is a hero above all heroes because he contributed the most to the Continental Congress, he created inventions that are still crucial to life today, and he gained the United States their freedom.

Benjamin Franklin contributed the most to the Continental Congress. France loved Franklin. “He was the man who tamed lightning, the humble American who dressed like a backwoodsman but was a match for any wit in the world” (Quick Biography 5). Ben was fluent in French and was quite the ladies’ man. This is why the Continental Congress appointed him Ambassador to France, the French couldn’t get enough of him. Benjamin Franklin gained their trust and obtained from them vital supplies America would need later in the American Revolution. “He also helped secure loans and persuade the French they were doing the right thing” (Quick Biography 5). He returned to America from France a national hero. Along with Thomas Jefferson and three others, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence; Jefferson did most of the writing and Franklin contributed his own intelligence into a few changes he made. Ben is the only person to have signed all four of the documents leading to the founding of the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty of Alliance with France, which he helped obtain, and the Treaty of Peace with England. The Continental Congress would have fallen apart without him.

Benjamin Franklin created inventions that are still crucial to life today. One day while sitting on a bench in America, reading a book, Franklin spotted a rather colorful bird. He decided he’d like to take a look at it. He quickly took off his reading glasses and put on his distance glasses, but by that time, the bird had taken flight.

“Shoot!” thought Franklin, “If only I could have changed from close-up to distance vision faster... I’ve got it!”

Franklin had thought of a two-in-one pair of glasses, a bifocal! It didn’t really happen that way but it was surely along those lines. Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal, a pair of glasses you could read in and see long-distance in at the same time. This way, people didn’t have to go around all the time with two pairs of glasses, constantly changing. Benjamin Franklin also invented the Franklin Stove. The Stove was “a major advance in the ease and efficiency of heating” (Uschan 53). Ben didn’t take a patent out on it because it was, of course, purely invented to improve society in Philadelphia. He wanted everyone to be able to create it and improve it without paying any amount of money. Franklin’s heart was in the right place. In addition to inventing the bifocals and the Franklin Stove, Ben studied electricity. He proved lightning was “caused by the buildup of static electricity in clouds.” (Turnpike 70). Benjamin Franklin then used this information to create a well known invention called the lightning rod. The lightning rod protected homes during storms. I doubt any of the inventions Franklin invented could have been made without him.

Benjamin Franklin gained the United States their freedom. Ben was well-known and famous in Britain, mostly because of his book, Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia by Mr. Benjamin Franklin. He lifted the American name because he “became famous for his intellect at a time when Europeans viewed Americans as unrefined and uneducated” (Uschan 53). Ben was living in Britain at the time and greatly admired their Parliament, but when the Americans became outraged at the Stamp Act, he rushed down to the House of Commons to persuade them to repeal it. All was well for a few days after the event, and Benjamin Franklin was again at peace. Then, all of a sudden, Parliament placed more and more taxes into effect. He had tried his best with reason, now he had to use action. Franklin got a hold of a few letters Thomas Hutchinson had sent to the House of Commons. Hutchinson was the royal Massachusetts governor who gave the impression to the state that he too was against Britain and their taxes. But, in the letters Ben had snatched, he was calling for “an abridgment of what are called English Liberties in America” (Quick Biography 4). Franklin sent the letters to the colonists and they were furious. When Britain found out about what Ben had done, he was publicly condemned. It was too late though, the damage had been done, the Colonists were distraught, and Benjamin Franklin’s loyalties were now with America. Upon joining up with them, he acquired crucial military assistance and supplies from France for the Revolutionary War. These were key factors in the victory of the Battle of Yorktown, the last battle of the War. He sealed America’s triumph over Britain and gave the United States its freedom.

While historian Richard B. Morris might think Ben is praised more than he is worth because he has “no conscientious scruples about enjoying high living, a liberal sexual code for himself, and bawdy humor” (Uschan 52), he is absolutely incorrect. Does he know that part of the reason Franklin was loved in France was because he was so down to earth? Without his rebellious characteristics, he is an old fraud who doesn’t win the hearts of the French. Do you think they want a goody two shoes to tell them what they’re doing wrong? No, they want a friend who shares their same characteristics and aspirations. They want a friend to show others that someone like them can be one of the smartest citizens in Europe. This is why the French loved him, and this is why America won the last battle of the war, with the help of the French... with the help of Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin had one of the greatest impacts on American society in history. He served and improved the Continental Congress, he created inventions that are still crucial to life today, and he gave the United States its freedom. Benjamin Franklin is a true idol, an icon, a hero.

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