The cornerstone of the United States of America is its Founding Fathers. This group of highly educated, wealthy aristocrats instigated the revolution against Britain, built the American system of government from scratch, and introduced American ideals that would resonate with the rest of the world. Some of the most acclaimed Founding Fathers include George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. However, although all of the Founding Fathers influenced the country in one way or another, none of them had as large of an impact as Benjamin Franklin. In addition to being a Founding Father, this
Massachusetts-born Patriot was a renowned author, printer, scientist, politician, diplomat, and much more. Because of his exemplary work in these different fields, Franklin deserves to be crowned as America’s most influential Founding Father. Franklin’s first major influence on America was his effect during the French and Indian War. The war was fought between the British and French in North America, so Britain needed troops from the colonies to assist. To gain colonial support, Franklin illustrated his famous “Join or Die” political cartoon (“Join, or Die”).
At the time, colonists did not think of themselves s belonging to an overarching group, but rather members of their individual colonies. “Join or Die” was so momentous because it impelled them to unite, and Franklin’s cartoon swayed many colonists to fight for their survival. In addition to his cartoon, Franklin also formulated the Albany Plan of Union during the war. The plan called for an establishment of a representative body to meet and organize a defense against the French (“Benjamin Franklin”).
Although it was ultimately rejected, this plan was the first time that the idea of a council of representatives for the colonies had been heard (“Benjamin Franklin”). Many years into the future, Franklin would organize this type of meeting again, except instead of fighting the French, the colonists would be fighting the British. Even before the Revolutionary war started, Franklin played a major role in the Revolutionary movement. In particular, he was one of the five people to draft the Declaration of Independence (“Franklin, Benjamin”).
The fact that the Patriots chose him for this task highlights his enormous responsibility in the United States. Franklin was also a delegate at the Second Continental Congress. This group debated many important topics, such as he appointment of the head of the army, and the decision to declare independence (“Franklin, Benjamin”). His invitation to such a prestigious event affirmed his influence in the colonies. Furthermore, it showed he was a trusted Patriot. Many of America’s finest politicians were present at this gathering, and Franklin was no exception.
Franklin’s most extraordinary achievements took place in the Revolutionary War. Franklin was America’s first diplomat, and in his first excursion to France, he inquired about a potential alliance between France and the colonies. While his colleagues failed, Franklin achieved his goal f obtaining war loans, equipment, naval/troop support, and recognition of American republic (O’ Brien). He also persuaded France into a declaration of war against Britain. At a time when America was weak and in dire need of help, this alliance provided the Continental Army with important supplies, and a morale boost.
In fact, according to many historians, “Franklin’s diplomatic success is often credited as a key factor in winning the war” (“U. S. Diplomacy”). This alliance was crucial to gaining independence and the colonial victory. Franklin also played a part in helping other famous Patriots. He brought Von Steuben into the war for the Americans, a Prussian man who would reinvent and organize the Continental Army (“Franklin’s Contribution”). He also persuaded Thomas Paine to publish Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense, which was one of the most iconic pamphlets to ever be written (“The American Revolution”).
In this aspect, he was responsible for motivating the American people to fight for their independence. Even after the war, Franklin played a role by drafting the Treaty of Paris, the document which would secure American sovereignty (Donovan). In fact, even though John Jay and John Adams accompanied him, he final copy “was almost identical with Franklin’s original terms” (Donovan). His expert diplomacy was necessary for the American people, and Franklin got exactly what the Americans wanted: absolute independence.
Following the American Revolution, Franklin still had a major impact on United States’s development the creation and signing of the Constitution. In fact, he was actually “the one who moved that the Constitution be adopted” (“Benjamin Franklin: The Man who .. “). This means that not only was he involved in the Constitution’s upbringing, he suggested it in the first place. Franklin also helped to solve ne of the toughest issues plaguing the Constitution Convention, which was a “mutual compromise on the sticky issue of the number of representatives to be allotted to each state in the national legislature” (“Franklin, Benjamin”).
He advised both large and small states to reach a settlement, eventually leading to The Great Compromise (“Franklin, Benjamin”). In doing so, Franklin allowed the Constitution to persevere and become a reality. As the only person to sign the Treaty of Paris, Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Franklin shows his tremendous impact on the growth of the new nation. Along with his political work, Franklin was also involved in the sciences. Franklin was very interested in how the world worked, and often performed experiments to test his theories. Most notably, he made major advances in electricity.
He proved the identity of lightning through his famous kite experiment, and invented the battery and insulators (“Benjamin Franklin”). Franklin also coined everyday terms such as “conductor”, “charge”, and “electrify”. Through his unified theory for electricity, he demonstrated electricity was composed of both positive and negative charges (“Benjamin Franklin”). In fact, ation. For instance, Franklin participated in without his expertise, many modern electronics would not be here today, and his idea to consider electricity as a viable form of energy paved the way for electricity’s growth in the future.
Although Franklin’s work in electricity alone shows his great ability, Franklin’s scientific achievements extend into other sciences as well. For instance, Franklin delved into astronomy, and included one of the first full descriptions of the planets and an important guide for astronomers (“Science and Medicine”). He also added tables of planetary motion, diagrams on eclipses, nd more. By writing these publications on celestial bodies, Franklin gave rise to an increasingly popular field of study.
He was also interested in geology, where he hypothesized how mountains formed, and climatology, where he analyzed weather patterns (Powell). Throughout these fields, Franklin left a legacy of new information and ideas that had a great effect on the future. Franklin’s influence can even be seen in everyday tools. As an avid creator, Franklin devised many useful inventions still used today. Bifocals, for instance, were made by Franklin when he was losing his vision. Today, 14 million Americans suffer from some sort of vision correction, and many of them are still using Franklin’s iconic glasses (“Study Finds Most Americans.. ).
Franklin also invented the lightning rod, which appears in many houses across America. Before he invented this, houses struck by lightning would “suffer massive heat damage. ” (“How Lightning Works”). When lightning strikes a house with the lightning rod, however, the rod carries the harmful lightning safely to the ground. His inventions have saved millions of dollars in damages and saved many homes around the world from harm. In total, Franklin had around 200 nventions, including swimming fins, the glass harmonica, and the Franklin stove (O’Brien).
Combined, these inventions have had a tremendous impact on the world back then and still today. One little known area Franklin had a major role in was the improvement of social facilities. These are government funded, community projects that provide the people some sort of benefit. One such project Franklin formed was the Academy of Pennsylvania, which would later become the prestigious University of Pennsylvania (“Benjamin Franklin”). This provided greater education for a large amount of Americans, and mbodied his values of knowledge and critical thinking.
Franklin also created the first fire departments, police departments, hospitals, and insurance companies (“Franklin, Benjamin”). These organizations are crucial in keeping people safe and protected, and appear in almost every town across America. Franklin also served as the deputy postmaster in North America (“Franklin, Benjamin”). He made great strides in improving the postal service, which made communications with others from far away much easier. Imagining a world without these institutions is nearly impossible, and is a testament to just how arge of an impact Franklin has had on society.
Through his wisdom, inventiveness, diplomacy, and public work. Franklin proves that he is the most influential Founding Father of America. While many other Founding Fathers only specialized in one field, such as John Jay in politics, Franklin had a diverse portfolio that stretched from the sciences to politics to literature. He showed what it meant to be American, and that one can achieve anything with dedication. Despite never formally being elected into office, Franklin’s work had a profound impact on those who followed in his footsteps.