Benjamin Franklin and His Inspiration for His Civic Contributions

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Benjamin Franklin is one of the most accomplished and imaginative citizens within America's history and even present day. His ingenuity within all his tasks created a path for America to become the country it is today. He contributed to society through his vast inventions with little cost, and had no interest in patenting or claiming many of his own ideas. His main objective was to have the invention to better society rather than create for the praise.  He aided through his focus on science, which lead to the creation of electricity.  As stated by PBS,

            "Ben Franklin believed that people volunteering together in a spirit of  cooperation could accomplish great things. Driven by a strong sense of civic duty, he involved himself in his community and his nation. Always mindful of  the "greater good," Franklin helped establish or improve institutions such as  circulating libraries, public hospitals, mutual insurance companies, volunteer  fire departments, agricultural colleges, and intellectual societies." (PBS)

He promoted the need for a public education and helped by originating educational clubs, libraries, and societies. Furthermore, Franklin through being such an inventive and aware citizen created establishments needed in a public sector than most citizens today.

Early Life:

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, to a poor couple, the father a candle maker. Franklin had little formal education, no more than 2 years of schooling. Instead his childhood often consisted of Benjamin Franklin working in the shop helping his father make candles. However, even at a young age Franklin was intrigued by education and continued to teach him through various readings and experiments, a practice he continued throughout his lifetime.  

He then moved on to also work for as a printer in a print shop. Education and writings seemed so prevalent to him even then that he kept up his education by studying books and information available well into the night. He was determined to write well, thus he focused on learning grammar and read the entire classic authors, in order to improve his own writings. His ambition showcases that even at a young Franklin was determined to better himself through self inflicted education.




His work paid off, as he became one of the best-known writers and negotiators of American history. His education also enabled him to learn mathematics, navigation, peak his interest with science, and give him the ability to articulate the needs of citizens and foresee what a society needed before the society knew they were lacking.


As An Adult:


At 17, Franklin decided it was time to leave Boston after many years of training, and went to Philadelphia with nothing, but his learned skills to rely on. Franklin did get a job fairly quickly with a man named Samuel Keimer at his print shop, Keimer recognizing Franklin's abilities. A few years later, Franklin again decided to part ways however, this time he chose to create a publication of his own. Franklin started publishing the Pennsylvania Eagle Gazette in 1728, a weekly paper in his area delivering news, ads, and on occasion, enjoyable opinion pieces. Through Franklin's experience in the printing shop, Franklin had the capability to turn his printing business into success. He became the distinguished printer for Pennsylvania among other states; however printing isn't the only innovation Franklin constructed for Philadelphia, his attributions to this city are a long and incredulous list.


Civic Contribution Purpose:


Franklin's vision always seemed to align with creating something for the betterment. Be it the better of oneself, the betterment of knowledge, or the betterment of a town, Franklin worked hard to innovate as much he could for the better. From being the stepping stone that created libraries, fire departments, paved roads, to being an inspiration for the people through his writing featured in his paper, other papers, and even the pieces in his autobiography, Franklin's mission was simple, to improve everything around for the better of society.


Franklin supported project that he believed would improve the each citizen's life and the society's life as a whole. He was a visionary that often saw what society lacked before most noticed a lack themselves. As stated by Billy G. Smith in Benjamin Franklin, Civic Improver, "The initial energy that drover many early civic improvements emanated from the Leather Apron Club, subsequently called the Junto, founded by Franklin in 1727," (Smith 99). This showcases that Franklin made civic virtue his mission right at the beginning because he could see, as he travelled the streets of Philadelphia, it was necessary.  Franklin as stated by Bill Smith "credited Cotton Mather's Essays to Do Good as an inspiration for the club..."(Smith 100) Thus, Franklin's mission was simple, to do good for the good of the people. For example, the creation of the Debate Club in 1727 this club or the idea of debating an opinion other than in a political forum was not frequently thought about until Franklin saw that the younger generation would enjoy in discussing his own views. This later resulted in the finding of the American Philosophical Society in 1743. Also through the creation of the debate club he gave the idea that the debate club brings their books together in order to form a library. He then concocted the idea of opening a library for the public by asking the debate club to put together funds for the institution. In 1732 the Library Company of Philadelphia was created.





Franklin created an opportunity for many to indulge in the classics as he did as a child in order to educate himself properly. As stated by Smith "Franklin wrote a motto for the Library Company that found godly approval for public service: "To pour forth benefits for the common good is divine,"" (Smith 103). This depicts that Franklin wanted to put forth the good that he believed everyone deserved as a citizen, in this example, a right to a fruitful self-education. Franklin's desire for education of a society and his sentiment of each individual's responsibility of an education for himself was made possible by his own innovation. Franklin was pleased, but he certainly didn't stop there.


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