Category Archives: American History

The Impact of Benjamin Franklin

The Impact of Benjamin Franklin

What would it be like if the United States hadn’t ever formed at all? What if Britain still reined? Have you ever wondered who lent the most help to the Revolutionary War, to American society? Benjamin Franklin is the name you are looking for. If he hadn’t lived, we would still be in the hands of the British. If he hadn’t lived, we would all be drinking tea right about now. Benjamin Franklin greatly impacted American society so much so that he is a hero above all heroes because he contributed the most to the Continental Congress, he created inventions that are still crucial to life today, and he gained the United States their freedom.

Benjamin Franklin contributed the most to the Continental Congress. France loved Franklin. “He was the man who tamed lightning, the humble American who dressed like a backwoodsman but was a match for any wit in the world” (Quick Biography 5). Ben was fluent in French and was quite the ladies’ man. This is why the Continental Congress appointed him Ambassador to France, the French couldn’t get enough of him. Benjamin Franklin gained their trust and obtained from them vital supplies America would need later in the American Revolution. “He also helped secure loans and persuade the French they were doing the right thing” (Quick Biography 5). He returned to America from France a national hero. Along with Thomas Jefferson and three others, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence; Jefferson did most of the writing and Franklin contributed his own intelligence into a few changes he made. Ben is the only person to have signed all four of the documents leading to the founding of the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty of Alliance with France, which he helped obtain, and the Treaty of Peace with England. The Continental Congress would have fallen apart without him.

Benjamin Franklin created inventions that are still crucial to life today. One day while sitting on a bench in America, reading a book, Franklin spotted a rather colorful bird. He decided he’d like to take a look at it. He quickly took off his reading glasses and put on his distance glasses, but by that time, the bird had taken flight.

“Shoot!” thought Franklin, “If only I could have changed from close-up to distance vision faster… I’ve got it!”

Franklin had thought of a two-in-one pair of glasses, a bifocal! It didn’t really happen that way but it was surely along those lines. Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal, a pair of glasses you could read in and see long-distance in at the same time. This way, people didn’t have to go around all the time with two pairs of glasses, constantly changing. Benjamin Franklin also invented the Franklin Stove. The Stove was “a major advance in the ease and efficiency of heating” (Uschan 53). Ben didn’t take a patent out on it because it was, of course, purely invented to improve society in Philadelphia. He wanted everyone to be able to create it and improve it without paying any amount of money. Franklin’s heart was in the right place. In addition to inventing the bifocals and the Franklin Stove, Ben studied electricity. He proved lightning was “caused by the buildup of static electricity in clouds.” (Turnpike 70). Benjamin Franklin then used this information to create a well known invention called the lightning rod. The lightning rod protected homes during storms. I doubt any of the inventions Franklin invented could have been made without him.

Benjamin Franklin gained the United States their freedom. Ben was well-known and famous in Britain, mostly because of his book, Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia by Mr. Benjamin Franklin. He lifted the American name because he “became famous for his intellect at a time when Europeans viewed Americans as unrefined and uneducated” (Uschan 53). Ben was living in Britain at the time and greatly admired their Parliament, but when the Americans became outraged at the Stamp Act, he rushed down to the House of Commons to persuade them to repeal it. All was well for a few days after the event, and Benjamin Franklin was again at peace. Then, all of a sudden, Parliament placed more and more taxes into effect. He had tried his best with reason, now he had to use action. Franklin got a hold of a few letters Thomas Hutchinson had sent to the House of Commons. Hutchinson was the royal Massachusetts governor who gave the impression to the state that he too was against Britain and their taxes. But, in the letters Ben had snatched, he was calling for “an abridgment of what are called English Liberties in America” (Quick Biography 4). Franklin sent the letters to the colonists and they were furious. When Britain found out about what Ben had done, he was publicly condemned. It was too late though, the damage had been done, the Colonists were distraught, and Benjamin Franklin’s loyalties were now with America. Upon joining up with them, he acquired crucial military assistance and supplies from France for the Revolutionary War. These were key factors in the victory of the Battle of Yorktown, the last battle of the War. He sealed America’s triumph over Britain and gave the United States its freedom.

While historian Richard B. Morris might think Ben is praised more than he is worth because he has “no conscientious scruples about enjoying high living, a liberal sexual code for himself, and bawdy humor” (Uschan 52), he is absolutely incorrect. Does he know that part of the reason Franklin was loved in France was because he was so down to earth? Without his rebellious characteristics, he is an old fraud who doesn’t win the hearts of the French. Do you think they want a goody two shoes to tell them what they’re doing wrong? No, they want a friend who shares their same characteristics and aspirations. They want a friend to show others that someone like them can be one of the smartest citizens in Europe. This is why the French loved him, and this is why America won the last battle of the war, with the help of the French… with the help of Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin had one of the greatest impacts on American society in history. He served and improved the Continental Congress, he created inventions that are still crucial to life today, and he gave the United States its freedom. Benjamin Franklin is a true idol, an icon, a hero.

Americas Dark Beginning

Americas Dark Beginning

Lincolns Attempt to Free the Slaves “The Emancipation Proclamation”

Almost 100 years prior to the start of the civil rights movement, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order that proclaimed the freedom of over three million African slaves. Although the Emancipation Proclamation followed on December 6, 1865 adoption of the 13th amendment, prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude was law, although it was not well received by the southern states, this piece of legislation was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments to be passed into law. Three years later the 14th Amendment was passed. This amendment granted African- Americans citizenship to the United States. By 1870 former African-American male slaves were given the right to vote, when the 15th amendment was ratified. These amendments to the U.S. Constitution were enacted upon the rejection of Andrew Johnson’s plan for reconstruction.

Under Union army protection, for a short time, some minor progress was made toward the the implementation of the rights of African-Americans. Black men were voting and even elected into Congress and other local offices. During this time Republican coalitions between blacks and whites were formed. These Republican coalitions passed bills that made it possible to establish public schools in most southern states. Forming their own churches, towns and businesses, by the end of the century two thirds of the farmers in the Mississippi Delta were black. This brief period from 1865 to 1877 is what became known as reconstruction.

Once it was realized that reconstruction was being abandoned by the north. The rights of the former slaves immediately came under attack by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other similar but smaller groups who confronted the newly formed government with violent opposition. This violent opposition helped the south to restore the former Confederate way of life, which strongly upheld the belief in white supremacy. Viewed by many as a time of corruption and a poorly lead government, placing the blame squarely on the backs of the newly elected black officials for the failure of Reconstruction made it easier for the south to justify racial segregation and allowed blacks to be denied the right to vote until well into the 1960’s.

In 1948, then President Harry Truman signs executive order 9981. The order calls for the desegregation of the armed forces. With the United States in the midst of World War II, the need for increased production of the necessities for war abroad brought forth an immediate demand for workers. This endless demand for able bodied Americans greatly helped in the effort to decrease racial boundaries. Following pressure from various civil rights leaders President Franklin D Roosevelt, helping to support this desegregation of the workplace, issued an Executive order. Order 8802 prohibited companies that were fulfilling government contracts from any kind of discrimination.

In May of 1954 landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas wins a supreme court ruling in favor of desegregation of public schools. This ruling lead the charge to public school desegregation nation wide. Winning NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall would go on to later become the nations first black Supreme Court Justice. Under threat of loss of federal funding, many schools across the southern U.S. began to comply with this ruling.

J.W. Miliam and Roy Bryant unwittingly jump started the civil rights movement when after being acquitted of the brutal beating and murder of a 14 year old Chicago boy, Emmett Till, in august of 1955, the pair bragged about their crimes during an interview by Look magazine. This enraged the black completely community and brought many of them to the forefront of the civil rights movement.

Only a matter of months later, NAACP member Rosa Parks denies a white man access to her seat on a city bus in Montgomery Alabama. Led by president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Reverend Martin Luther King jr., the black community starts a year long boycott of city buses. This boycott led to the December 21, 1956 desegregation of buses. The following January Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele and Fred L. Shuttlesworth civil rights group that will later become a major player in the organization of many nonviolent protests. King, who has been appointed the first President of the Southern Christian Leadership conference, insists that they must not bring themselves to the level of the racists and hatemongers. He later states ,”We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline”.

September 1957 nine students are denied entry into a formerly all white, Little Rock Arkansas

high school. Upon learning of this direct defiance of the Supreme Court ruling by Little Rock Governor Orval Faubus, President Eisenhower dispatches National guard and military troops to ensure that any black student who desired to attend Little Rock Central High School would not be denied. These nine black students later became known as the “Little Rock Nine.”

April 16th 1963 Birmingham Alabama, Martin Luther King, attending an anti segregation movement, is put in jail. From his cell, he authors his seminal entitled Letter From Birmingham Jail, making the argument that,” individuals have a moral duty to disobey unfair laws”. June 12 of that same year37 year old NAACP field secretary, Medgar Evers is killed in front of his own home in Jackson Mississippi. After being tried twice resulting in hung jurys in both trials. Finally, after 30 years of undeserved freedom, Byron De La Beckwith is finally convincted for the murder of Medgar Evers.

Taking place at the Lincoln Memorial, the March on Washington boasted over 200,000 participants who had the honor of listening to Martin Luther King as he delivered his “I have a dream” speech. Later that year Carole Robertson, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins are murdered with a bomb attending Sunday school in a popular place for civil rights meetings to be held, the 16th street church in Birmingham Alabama. Two more black children are killed as a result of the riots that erupted following the four original deaths from the church bombing.

The 24th Amendment was passed in January of 1964 abolishing any taxes that were put into place to deter poor black people from voting in 11 of the southern states when the 15th amendment gave black men the right to vote. During the summer of that year which later became known as the Freedom Summer, the Council of Federated Organizations attempts to get a record number of black voters to register. At the same time the group send members to the Democratic National Convention to protest, in an attempt to uproot the all white Mississippi contingent. In July the Civil Rights Act was passed by President Johnson. This was the most wide reaching piece of legislation involving civil rights since the enactment of the Reconstruction. It prohibits any type of discrimination. It also gave the federal government the jurisdiction to enforce all desegregation laws.

February 21, 1965 Organization of the Afro American Unity founder Malcolm X is murdered, his murder is believed to have been perpetrated by Black Muslim Faith members. Cut short by a police road block, a march to Montgomery Alabama turns into a brutal show of force by local authorities, when at least 50 activists are hospitalized after being beaten to a bloody pulp at the hands of the same men whose salaries are paid by their tax dollars. This event seems to help the Voting Rights Act come to be five months later. In August the self explained voting rights act is passed by Congress. September 1965 President Johnson issues an Executive Order introducing the nation to affirmative action for the first time. Order 11246 If I understand this correctly, it basically makes employers fill a quota of minority hires. ( reverse racism )” Hire the less qualified minority because the government says to. Everybody loses except the hired minority. The employer gets a less qualified employee, the more qualified applicant obviously doesn’t get the job, the customer of that employer, who receives lower quality goods or services and depending on the position, quite possibly public safety. All of these people are made to suffer to benefit a single person. At some point it is just time to admit when a piece of legislation has failed and try again.”

October 1966 Bobby Seale and Huey Newton form the infamous militant group, the Black Panther Party. June 1967 the remaining 16 states that still uphold a ban on interracial marriage are forced by federal law to rewrite their laws pertaining to the subject.

April 4 1968 While standing on a balcony outside of his hotel room in Memphis Tennessee, Martin Luther King was gunned down by escaped convict James Earl Ray who is later convicted of the crime.

October 24, 2005 Rosa Parks Dies at age 92

I think that Martin Luther King was more of an activist for equal rights for all of humanity. His efforts were in an attempt to bring black and white people closer together. He believed that if the races could come together in unity that we could work together and strive to make this nation a great place for anyone to live and raise a family, regardless of race.

Malcolm X on the other hand was more of a separatist. He seemed to want to keep blacks and whites apart. Where Martin Luther King tried to unite the two races, Malcolm X wanted more for the black man to emerge on top of the white man. He was interested in civil rights, but for black people. Malcolm X wanted retribution for the oppression that black had endured for years at the hand of the white man. I think a lot of what Malcolm X said when he spoke to the black public it was his intent to enrage them into a race war. One thing that both men agreed upon was that blacks and whites should have equal rights. I truly think that Malcolm X was racist. I also firmly believe that he hated white people for what our ancestors did to his. Slavery was a horrible thing to do. However, no one would benefit from perpetual hatred, which is what I think that Malcolm X was preaching.

Lincoln frees the Slaves