Benjamin Franklin Enlightement

Detailed information about Benjamin Franklin is given on this website. Today we are going to talk about Benjamin Franklin’s Enlightenment and you can also read  Was Benjamin Franklin Even a President?





Benjamin Franklin Enlightenment




Benjamin Franklin Enlightenment
Benjamin Franklin Enlightenment






Benjamin Franklin, a savvy entrepreneur at 43, viewed the unfinished building at Fourth and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. He remembered the hall built for George Whitefield in 1740, the largest in Philadelphia. Franklin had set up a printing house in 1728, publishing newspapers, books, and his famous yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. The Almanack, which offered practical and witty advice, was a success, running for 28 years and selling 10,000 copies annually. Franklin pondered the future of the empty building.



Franklin, an influential American scientist, inventor, and printer, was a crucial figure in the Enlightenment, an international conversation in the 18th century aimed at expanding and classifying knowledge about the natural world and the human condition through reason and experimentation. The Enlightenment aimed to improve society and humanity by fostering scientific communities and publishing discoveries in scientific journals.



Franklin believed that his printing work served a greater civic and humane purpose than just making money. Newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets spread knowledge and prevented government corruption. In 1733, authorities tried to censor New York newspaperman John Peter Zenger for criticizing the royal governor, William Cosby. Zenger’s newspaper published articles suggesting Cosby fired colonial justices who refused to increase his salary. Despite Zenger’s innocence, colonial authorities continued to censor newspapers. Franklin knew he needed to use satire and anonymously written pieces to criticize the government in print.



Franklin, a prominent figure in colonial America, believed that education was crucial for the development of moral virtue. He believed that virtuous individuals could govern themselves in colonial legislatures and town meetings. Franklin had a history of spreading knowledge and improving civic life, founding the Junto Debating Society in 1727 and the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. He also founded a hospital, fire company, and militia. In the 1740s, Franklin considered the empty speaking hall as a potential place of instruction and a beacon of truth throughout the colonies. He believed that virtuous people could govern themselves in their colonial legislatures and town meetings.



Franklin envisioned the Academy of Pennsylvania, later renamed the University of Pennsylvania, as a different institution from other colonial colleges founded for religious purposes. Harvard College, established in the 1630s, trained Puritan ministers but later taught the “rational” theology. Yale College, founded in 1701, aimed to maintain traditional Calvinist theology. The College of William & Mary was run by Virginian Anglicans, while the College of New Jersey was founded by evangelical Presbyterians in 1746. Franklin aimed to educate young men to be successful businessmen and public servants.




The Academy, unlike other colonial colleges, would not be run by a single Christian denomination. Franklin, a Calvinist, believed true religion was about moral virtue and not a specific set of doctrines. He was skeptical of traditional Christian teachings on salvation, Jesus Christ’s divinity, and the Trinity. Franklin believed that the best way for society to promote virtue was to tolerate all religious beliefs, and his belief in toleration extended to the Academy’s Board of Trustees, which included members from various Christian denominations.



Franklin proposed a new curriculum for the Academy, focusing on contemporary arts and sciences instead of ancient languages and Roman and Greek classics. He argued that this education would equip young men with practical knowledge, preparing them for a good living and active citizenship. However, the trustees of the Academy ultimately chose a more traditional curriculum.


Franklin, a prominent Enlightenment thinker, made significant contributions to human knowledge through his scientific discoveries. He began to question whether lightning was a form of electricity and published an article in 1750 suggesting it could be proven by flying a kite in a lightning storm. Two years later, Franklin tried to prove this by releasing a kite with a key tied to its string into the stormy air. The loose threads of the string began to repel each other, sparking the kite, proving lightning was electricity. Franklin gained international acclaim and corresponded with important scientists throughout the colonies and Europe.



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