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He also related how his small group of friends played tricks with their unwitting neighbors. His friends would set fire on alcohol, rekindled candles blown out, imitate lightning flashes or by touching or kissing and make an artificial spider move (Bellis).
Using the Leyden jar, Benjamin made an electrical batter, roasted a fowl on a spit fired with electricity, ignited alcohol by electricity through water, fired gunpowder and shocked wine drinkers' glasses (Bellis 2006, Nussbaum 2006). More than these, he theorized on the identity of lightning and electricity. He believed that buildings could be protected by iron rods. Using an iron road, he conducted electricity into his house. Then he studies the effect upon bells. From these, he concluded that clouds were generally negatively charged or electrified. In June 1752, he performed his famous kite experiment with the help of his son. He drew electricity from the clouds and charged a Leyden jar from the key at the tip of the string (Bellis, Nussbaum).
Collinson gathered and published Benjamin's letters into a pamphlet, which later gained wide attention (Bellis 2006). The collection was translated into French. The French accepted Benjamin's conclusions with great excitement. Scientists of Europe did too. As a consequence, the Royal Society adopted Benjamin as a member and later awarded him with the Copley medal in 1753.
Peerless American Visionary
The year Benjamin died, 1790, John Adams paid unconditional tribute to his and General Washington's accomplishments and contributions as underlying all the policy, negotiations, legislatures and war (Skoussenn 2007). Updates of Benjamin's autobiography have led to the unquestionable conclusion that he must be credited to a certain degree for America's growth machine itself. A scrutiny of his life and writings can also bring out the uncontestable conclusion that he did more than anyone one else in establishing the framework of wealth creation in the then just-evolving nation. The same scrutiny would reveal that Benjamin's diplomatic capabilities were indispensable to the American Revolution. It is to his credit that the French made available more than one billion dollars worth of military and financial assistance. This assistance was as indispensable in acquiring American independence from the British. Finally, he played the crucial role of identifying and devising the compromises necessary in drafting the new Constitution in 1787. By his natural prowess, Benjamin intercepted the oncoming and incredible material and technological progress since the founding of the colonies. He was always full of optimism about America and life in general. At the close of the War for Independence, he predicted America's evolution into a "great and happy country." He saw the United States as a huge territory in the favor of nature and the blessing and "advantages of climate, soil, rivers and lakes. He described it as "destined to become... great,... populous and mighty." He pictured the country to prospective immigrants from Europe as suitable to strangers like them and ruled by "good laws, a just but cheap government," endowed with all the reasonable civil and religious liberties people aspire for (Skoussenn).
If America were a business school, Benjamin can be regarded as its first dean (Skoussenn 2007). His autobiography contains details of his business success. It is the first record of a "rags-to-riches" account in American history. In his "Advice to a Young Tradesman," Benjamin said that it was a simple and direct way to market. It was guided by the words "industry" and "frugality." He advised all who would go into business not to waste time or money but to make the best use of both. He stressed that without diligence and thrift, they would not succeed. His business advice was certainly sound. He became one of the wealthiest men of his time. He stressed the importance of initiative and capability in Americans. He attacked the leisure and luxury of public offices, which wallowed in privilege and aristocracy by birth. This was a central concept in his very successful "Poor Richard's Almanac" and "The Way to Wealth." Throughout his life, he taught and promoted the virtues of industry, thrift and prudence as universal principles and the groundwork for success. If he were living today, he would upbraid Americans who indulge in little or no savings, overspending and excessive debts. He taught with certainty that industry and frugality would pay one's debts and send him forward in the world. He said that business must be well-managed or it would quickly come to ruin (Skoussenn).
Benjamin first achieved fortune as an innovative publisher (Skoussenn 2007). He produced the best-selling newspaper and almanac of his time, He vastly profited from linking up with printing partnerships in the Atlantic region. Add to this, Benjamin was a practical inventor. His public consciousness, though, prevented him from collecting royalties or trademarks from his inventions (Skoussen).
He did more than help establish the University of Pennsylvania (Skoussen 2007). He also urged that a radical model of a public university, which would give priority to science and the professions. This radical model set the pace for subsequent schools, which trained and turned out talents, honed in the ideal of science and professions, and leaders. They eventually shaped America's powerful economy (Skoussen).
Benjamin also set forth his 13 principles for virtuous living in his autobiography (the Electric Ben Franklin 2007, Skoussen 2007). These principles also proved essential to lasting prosperity. His stand on the practice of virtue was absolute. He believed that "only virtuous people are capable of freedom." He saw corrupt and vicious nations as needing masters, and that America was "too enlightened to be enslaved." His autobiography and maxims taught and promoted the virtues he held dear - honesty, hard work, thrift, good acts and the power of good reputation. He relied more on reward than punishment in motivating people to cooperate. These principles and practices made Benjamin a role model for modern American businessmen who must constantly come to terms with the tension in every business situation. He suggested guarding against foolish risks while helping others succeed as well. He taught everyone how he could help himself while helping others. He was not a regular churchgoer, he would promote a pragmatic religion, which taught good works in combination with charity more than simple faith and hope. He stressed that what was really needed and meaningful would be concrete works of kindness, charity, mercy and oneness of spirit rather than empty observances, pious exercises, sermon-reading or hearing, performance of ceremonies or long prayers. Flatteries, praises and compliments were frowned upon by wise and, therefore, would be less pleasing to God. Benjamin participated in many civil and charitable activities throughout his adult life, even leaving a perpetual fund for young businessmen in Boston (Skoussen).
There was also the very human side of Benjamin Franklin. He was an opportunist (Skoussen 2007). He sought government privilege for himself and his relatives. He printed currency for many States for profit. In 1743, he acquired a well-paying job as the Crown's deputy postmaster general of North America. He influenced British leaders to appoint his son William as royal governor of New Jersey. He practiced nepotism too. In 1776, he appointed his son-in-law to succeed him as postmaster of the United States. He aggressively sought a land grant from the Crown in Ohio for a number of years. Things changed his attitude, though, towards public privilege and corporate welfare after the American Revolution. He was unable to obtain the land grant he worked hard for. His son left him during the war and they were separated permanently. He trained his grandson Benny as a printer and not as a government agent. He thought it better to take on a job according to one's education than assuming an office under the whims of superiors. It allowed greater independence. His permanent separation from his son wounded him greatly. He resented wars as necessary evil because they prohibited him from indulging with his inventions and other scientific pursuits. While in England and France, he often complained about the little time he had to communicate with fellow scientists and to create new things some more. After the war, he immediately went back to his several inventions. Nonetheless, he felt that the war deprived him of his dreams of technological revolution as well his ability to discover and create new things (Skoussen).
As an economist, he favored paper money and an inflationary monetary policy beyond what commerce required (Skoussen 2007). He thought that easy money would stimulate trade and that rapid inflation during the war was leveled down by the power of indirect taxation. He strongly supported the central banking concept and was an investor himself in the Bank of North America. He sought the active engagement of the State in the free education of the youth and other public services. He was also for the elimination of ignorance in the form of public fads and superstition. Records show that Jefferson shared his theme of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as the purpose and principle of government.…[continue]
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