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Benjamin Franklin and His Contribution to the American Revolution

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Essay title: Benjamin Franklin and His Contribution to the American Revolution

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 things 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. 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 Eiselin.

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 waiting 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 Isaacson 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 an 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 dear friend in England, William Strahan.

“You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my country 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 Isaacson, the most peculiar thing about this letter was that Franklin never actually sent it to Strahan. 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 to 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 intercolonial 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 was 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 bedridden for months.


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