Parent Category: 18th Century History Articles
Category: Biography
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Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is considered as the first American due to the role he played in championing for freedom of the United States from the British colony when he was an American ambassador in France.

There are so many things that can be learned about the lifestyle of people in the 18th century from reading his biography. These things include family life, literacy, religion and many aspects of life. Benjamin was the seventeenth child of his father, the tenth and last born son of his father.

During the 18th century, it was common for women to die at childbirth, and there were many diseases, some which are eradicated today, and some which are very manageable now, which caused so many deaths back in that century. Families lived together in the same village for decades and usually practiced a certain trade which became the family business. To every man, the family is the most important thing. This can be seen in the way Benjamin passionately wrote about his family and his father. Additionally, when his parents died, he put a stone showing how much he loved them and what a great family they had brought up. It should be noted that he wrote about his brother and the way they had a collection of family anecdotes. In fact, they had the history of the family going back to many generations. To Benjamin, family made a person what that person will become in the future.

In the 18th century, children were not taken to school to learn a trade, but they were attached to someone who had a special skill, and they apprenticed to acquire the skill. Benjamin Franklin was the only one in his family who was taken to school, and the reason behind it was so that he could serve the church as a gift of his father to the church. In school Benjamin was very good at writing; during several years of his studies he has written hundreds of papers on informative and process analysis essay topics and was really proud of this achievement. His parents and his uncles were religious, just like many other people living at that time. It is unfortunate that Benjamin did not follow his parents in becoming a Baptist like they were. However, he was not without faith, only he did not ascribe to any denomination. This is an indication that the 18th century was a religious time in which people were so keen on Christianity since his father was educating him to offer him in the service of the church as tithe. Young Benjamin wanted his life to revolve around the sea, but he later decided that he wanted the pulpit. His family was a Protestant one and he was a believer. However, Benjamin believed that each individual had a right to decide what religion he intends to ascribe to and no one should force anyone into doing what was not his own liking. In his autobiography, it can be noted that although he was a believer when he was a child, he did not follow any denomination as a grown up although he still believed in God and His providence.

Benjamin once had an argument with his friend concerning whether it was proper to educate girls, and if the girls had the capacity to accommodate education as much as the boys were.  He took the argument of the fact that girls also required to be educated and they could manage as much as the boys. The discussion, he says, he made with Collins only for the sake of arguments, but it is vivid that he had believed in him about the girls and their ability to study. This is confirmed by his own statement that he wrote several epistles to Collins to convince him that his argument of girls’ education being improper had no basis because sex had nothing to do with brain functions. If the topic was not so important to Benjamin, or if he had just taken that side for arguments sake, he would not have bothered too much about it.

In the same manner, it was brought to his knowledge that some people did not get a chance to choose their spouses and had it done for them. He particularly learned that young men who wanted to get married would tell elders in his class, who would in turn consult with lady elders in the same class, and since these elders were well acquainted with the candidate, they would make a good match. Benjamin, however, refuted this by stating that approach was wrong since it was very likely for couples to be quite unhappy in marriage if one did not choose his spouse. Even when supporters of this style of matchmaking said that letting the youngsters choose their own spouses was also likely to bring the same results, he was adamant that a person should be allowed to choose his own partner because of marriage and its success so much depended on the compatibility of the partners to one another.

Personally, he had made acquaintance with Miss Read, and they wanted to get married but her mother prevented this because Benjamin was going away on a voyage and she did not have high expectations for him. It is unfortunate because after he went, his lover got engaged and married to another man who soon left her. Benjamin could not marry Read when he returned because she was still married to her husband and bigamy was illegal. This brought change in marriage because he was of the opinion that people should not be forced to remain in loneliness just because they were initially married and the whereabouts of the spouses was not known. This is what drove Benjamin into writing the common marriage law which he used to marry Deborah Read.

The 18th century was an interesting time all over the world. Although Benjamin Franklin had a different status in life, his story tells so much about the century because he experienced both the high class and middle class lifestyles, and so many changes that happened in the century, most of which he was so instrumental in delivering.