Consenting Fathers: Benjamin Franklin And Thomas Jefferson

1098 words - 4 pages

Consenting Fathers:Benjamin Franklin and Thomas JeffersonThough Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were contemporaries, their views, backgrounds and modes of influence were very different. Benjamin Franklin was born of a large and poor family and rose to become a model of the emerging bourgeois classes in the American Colonies. Throughout his long and life, Franklin succeeded in business, science, and excellent statesmanship. Thomas Jefferson, however, rose out of an affluent family to become the second President of the United States. These two seemingly separate lives nevertheless overlapped each other on many occasions. Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the minister to France in 1785, and both men were present and influential in founding the basis for the constitution and the fledgling government. Indeed, the accomplishments of both men and the importance that has been credited to each throughout the annals of history have melded these two men and their contemporaries into a single vision as the "Founding Fathers" of the United States of America. However, examination of the writings that both of these men left behind for all of posterity reveal that these men had consenting and dissenting views on a variety of subjects. Autobiography, by Benjamin Franklin, and the Selected Writings of Jefferson, shows the distinctive and similar viewpoints that the respected authors had towards religion and education.Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson shared similar viewpoints in respect to religion. While neither of the men were radical atheists in the vein of Thomas Paine, both of these men were pronounced Deists. Benjamin Franklin, in his Autobiography, writes frequently about his beliefs. At the age of 15, Franklin happened upon books against Deism which he read and found that the argument for Deism was much better than the argument against it. "It happened that they wrought an Effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them: For the Argument of the Deists which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much Stronger that the Refutation" (Norton, 574). From this young age, Franklin seemed to become a very liberal Deist. Franklin later writes about a minister friend of his who convinced him to attend his sermons. Franklin did so, but was disappointed due to the fact that the minister did not care to expound on the virtues exhibited in the Bible, but instead just made examples of these virtues to support the Presbyterian religion. Ben Franklin's Deism is basically a way for him to spiritually live out the great virtues that he sees as important to living a good life. Although the reader is never made aware of the explicit nature of Thomas Jefferson's Deism, one can infer his spirituality from the works that he created. The opening passage of the Declaration of Independence has Jefferson speaking of "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" (Selected Writings Jefferson, 8). Thomas Jefferson was a staunch supporter of the separation of...

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