Gail Hulsey WC: 700 American Lit. Dr. Bettich Nov. 1, 1998 Two Great Men Two men who will live on forever in our history books are Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. These two men have contributed many positive and sound ideas to our American culture. Their participation in so many different fields changed the world immensely.
In their later years, they were noted politicians as well as respected scholars. Both were determined men who wanted to make the world a better place to live. Many contributions made by Franklin and Jefferson still shape American society today. Benjamin Franklin, a practical man, was one of fifteen children in his family.
At a young age he was apprenticed to his brother and learned the printing trade. Franklin, a self taught man, had a fascination with books, and he enjoyed reading. Franklin writes in The Autobiography, "From a Child I was fond of Reading, and all the little Money that came into my Hands was ever laid out in Books" (530). He learned French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin.
His idea about education was to read to gain knowledge, and work hard in order to educate yourself. He was a jack of all trades and master of many. He felt that a man should learn what he called his "business" throughly and work hard in order to succeed. In the "The Way to Wealth," one of his most popular articles which help shape American culture, he wrote, "Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy, As Poor Richard says; and he that rises late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, drive thy business, let not that drive thee, and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise" (494). Franklin felt that a working man should be proud of his accomplishments. He writes that "a plowman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees" (496).
Franklin had a sense of humor, and wrote with wit. In "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America" he writes about the observation of a black man and that "Boccarorra (meaning the white man) make de black man workee, make de horse workee, make de ox workee, make eberything workee; only de hog. He, de hog, no workee; he eat, he drink, he walk about, he go to sleep when he please; he libb like a gentleman (512). Franklin felt that every man should have virtue. In his Autobiography he states, "He that has once done you a Kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged" (591). He describes a man without virtue and says that "It is hard for an empty Sack to stand upright"(587).
Thomas Jefferson, a liberal, was born into a large and wealthy family. Thomas Jefferson began his studies under a tutor, and learned many languages. In his "Letter to Peter Carr" he writes, "Italian. I fear the learning this language will confound your French and Spanish.
Being all of them degenerated dialects of the Latin, they are apt to mix conversation" (731). Being a well-educated man himself, he felt that every person was entitled to an education. The liberal arts and reading were of the utmost importance to Jefferson. His concept of the way to cure ignorance was to get an education.
Additionally, he emphasized that people should concentrate on their moral values. In his "Letter to Peter Carr he states," "The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body" (731). Benjamin Franklin was poor most of his life while Jefferson was born into a wealthy family. They both shared many of the same ideas.
They felt that everyone should exercise their minds by reading, and everyone was entitled to an education. However, Jefferson focused more on the liberal arts than did Franklin. Both felt that people should live with good morals. Franklin and Jefferson were honorable men who made many accomplishments in their lifetime. Some of Franklin's accomplishments were the stove, electricity, fire station, and post office. He was the only person to sign all four key documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution of the United States.
Jefferson is best remembered as a great President. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence, and founder of the Democratic Party. These two men have made our world a better place to live. Works Cited Baym, Nina.
, et al.,eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed.
Vol. 1. New York: Norton 1998. Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography. Baym et al.
523. " " "The Way to Wealth" Baym et al. 493. " " "Information To Those Who Would Remove to America" Baym et al.
510. Jefferson, Thomas. "Letter to Peter Carr." Baym et al.