Throughout grade school I have been taught that Benjamin Franklin was a respectable and confident man. A man who was known for his scientific abilities, his stature in politics, his farming and including many other things, his work as a printer. Franklin was known as a jack of all trades who had very few flaws, if any. Yet, after reading Richard B. Morris's article about this great man, I have been persuaded otherwise. This article points out Benjamin Franklin's habits with women, his views on slavery and his fear of confrontations.
Ben Franklin has been known as an extrovert who spoke his mind. Yet, Franklin avoided confrontation at all costs. He backed down from fights if possible. He did not like to hurt anyone, even things that were not human. One example is that when Franklin was practicing a vegetarian diet he would not insist on eating what he liked but instead would leave the table and make the food himself.
Also, Franklin became in command of an army. He managed this army with a mild manner and seemed to get the job done. Franklin became a literary prankster, performing hoax after hoax, like that seen in London's "General Advertiser." Although his avoiding confrontation may seem to be a flaw, it truly is a wonderful approach to life. Franklin learned to be more peaceful. This was not the only habit that Franklin had that many do not know about, his lust for women is another thing that has been kept secret by many.
Although Franklin believed in the equality of women he also felt that a woman's role was to be a wife and have children, but he thought a man's role was much more versatile and was of higher value. In Ben Franklin's younger years he had a passion for sex and saw no need for love to be involved. He fathered many illegitimate children, one who was named William Temple Franklin. William's mother was named Deborah Read. Benjamin took Deborah's hand in marriage, many say it was due to the fact that William was born. Benjamin had different opinions of marriage but at one point he felt that marriage was a way a man could be "solidly happy". Deborah ended up dyeing of a stroke in December of 1774. After this Franklin courted many other women. Franklin's changing ideas on women also mirrored his changing views on slavery.
In the 1730s Franklin thought of the black race as "unintelligent". He ended up trading slaves at his Philadelphia printing shop for investments and money. Franklin also had a black couple who were servants that worked with Franklin's white servants. However, in 1751 Franklin's views on slavery changed. Franklin visited an African American school and saw that all children had the same capacity of learning whether or not they were black or white. He felt that slavery was an "economically unsound labor system". Franklin then became the President of Pennsylvania Society for Abolition of slavery. Franklin's ever-changing views on how slavery should be is just one of the many ways this essay shocked me into thinking of Ben Franklin as a different person.
Before I read Morris's article on Benjamin Franklin I was completely oblivious to Franklin's womanizing, his problems with confrontation and how easily his opinions changed. By learning these facts about Franklin I can see him as a person rather than just a historical figure read about in his autobiography and history books. Now Benjamin Franklin is not just known for the Declaration of Independence and his scientific experiments. This essay illustrates how even the most brilliant people can have flaws. Although Morris did show me some sides of Franklin I had never seen before, I still have a great deal of respect and honor for him. Benjamin Franklin truly is one of the greatest figures of American history