Benjamin Franklin has influenced American technology, and indirectly, lifestyles by using his proficiencies and intelligence to conduct numerous experiments, arrive at theories, and produce several inventions. Franklin's scientific and analytical mind enabled him to generate many long lasting achievements which contributed to the development and refinement of modern technology.
Few national heroes, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, played a more significant role in shaping the American way of life than Franklin. According to Fowler, "He personified the ideal of the self-made man, and his rise from obscurity to eminence exemplified the American dream" (32). Looby adds, "The study of Franklin's image for the past two centuries shows that his legacy had a distinctive place in American culture" (85). It has been felt by many people over the years that there was no United States inventor as great as Franklin until the time of Thomas A. Edison (Blow 24).
Franklin's words to a friend in Pennsylvania, Joseph Huey, best explain his attitude not only toward what he considered his civic duties, but also his investigations as a scientist or philosopher.
He made some of the most famous and certainly the most practical discoveries of his time. "For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favours, but as paying debts. In my travels, and since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return . . . I can therefore only return on their fellow men; and I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my Brethren" (Dineen 6). Wright quotes Franklin as saying, "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others,"...