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Ben Franklin wasn't a very good Founding Father...

Ivan May

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May 25, 2021
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Ben Franklin was a pretty good guy, and I don't want to cause irreversible damage to his reputation or to his estate's representation.
But I didn't really think he was influential as, say, Confucius or Thomas Jefferson. I like that Ben Franklin patented a lot of inventions, and made everyday household items a thing.

But what do you think was his greatest achievement? I would say his rivalry with Thomas Edison, who also had very radical ideas, but both were responsible for the light bulb, records, tv sets, etc.

I did also like the movie 1776. I loved when William Daniels played in that movie.
But if you think Ben Franklin was a respected Founding Father, please let me know. I will always respect your opinion.
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
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Beyond all the things that have gone into the folklore realm like inventor, journalist, Franklin was the first American diplomat. He was a shmoozer. He traveled between the colonies and France and got France to give support for American independence. He had true diplomatic skills and convinced France to recognize American independence. That was a critical piece that America needed.

"Franklin's home in Passy, France became the center of American diplomacy in Europe... Thomas Jefferson succeeded Franklin in 1785, French Foreign Minister Vergennes asked: “It is you who replace Dr. Franklin?” Jefferson replied, “No one can replace him, Sir; I am only his successor.”" - United States Department of State Office of the Historian.
 
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jrgtr42

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Mar 24, 2005
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He was also reportedly a contrarian. IIRC, he put forth that instead of the bald eagle as the national bird, it should be the wild turkey. Something to do with the turkey as taking no crap from anyone, etc.
He put out ideas for the bill of rights and constitution that at the time were seen as crazy - though looking back now, some of them might have made a lot of sense to add in there. UNfortunately, I'm not finding those details, but I read about them a few years ago.
 

Bob Womack

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Apr 8, 2002
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He was also reportedly a contrarian. IIRC, he put forth that instead of the bald eagle as the national bird, it should be the wild turkey. Something to do with the turkey as taking no crap from anyone, etc.
He liked the idea of the wild turkey because it was so intelligent, wily, and hard to catch.

I think perhaps his greatest achievement in regards to the founding of the country may have been his editorial activity in the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Why? Just as we have today, there were factions within the Continental Congress that needed to be reconciled together were the whole thing to happen. As they said, thirteen clocks had to strike at the same second - all of the colonies had to ratify the Declaration unanimously. Two of the big factions with in the Congress were the Enlightenment Humanists led by Thomas Jefferson, who held to the concepts of John Locke, and the evangelical intellectuals led by John Witherspoon, president of Princeton College, who followed the Lex Rex ideals of Scottish pastor and intellectual Samuel Rutherford.

The two factions were leery of each other and resisted each other's attempts to frame the independence argument in their own way. However, it is little known that Locke studied and loved the work of Rutherford and developed his own ideas by "sanitizing" Rutherford's works of their theistic origins. Thus, the two factions were essentially two expressions of the same concepts. Nevertheless, they were at odds, and it threatened to derail the acceptance of the statement. Franklin, being the "schmoozer" and the experienced editor that he was, was able to reconcile the two as Jefferson's Declaration was being finally framed by the committee for presentation to the Congress. You can see it in some of the statements, and it starts right off the bat with the first paragraph:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. " (my emphasis)

Franklin had the ability to take the editorial steps to make it work with both factions and so that they could feel ownership of the document.

Bob
 

Billy Porter

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Mar 16, 2005
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Ivan May said:
I would say his rivalry with Thomas Edison, who also had very radical ideas, but both were responsible for the light bulb, records, tv sets, etc.


If you ignore Joseph Swan (light bulb) and John Logie Baird (Television).
 
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