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The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

In the SYNOPSIS portion of your book review be sure to specifically address the following points and


1.Describe the factors that made Franklin �the man of many masks.�

2.What role did the class divisions that existed in the English-speaking world have on Franklin�s


3.Describe how Franklin managed to rise from a lowly station into the ranks of gentlemen.
4.How did Franklin�s exposure to London during the 1750s shape his outlook?
5.What factors made Franklin �a thoroughgoing imperialist and royalist� by the early 1760s?
6.Describe how, by the late 1760s, Franklin had become too English in America and too American in


7.How did Franklin�s treatment by English officials in the early 1770s turn him into an ardent patriot?
8.How did Franklin, to the French, come �to symbolize America as no single person in history ever


9.How did Franklin become �indispensable to the success of the Revolution abroad�?
10.Why was Franklin so unappreciated by so many of his contemporaries of the revolutionary era?
11.How did Franklin, after his death, become the ideal for both workingmen and businessmen, especially

in the northern states? How did this reflect changes in (northern) culture?

The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

Gordon Wood the author of the book The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin seeks to
bring the real and holistic character of Benjamin Franklin. Gordon points out that numerous
books written regarding the important role Benjamin Franklin played in the independence of
United States. Whoever he paints a different negative image of Benjamin Franklin. In the
biography, Franklin is depicted as an individual who does not in any way behave like an
American. In fact, he spends more time living in France and England. Additionally, he is seen as
a staunch supporter of imperialism favoring colonization of United States by other parties. In the
book, Franklin is depicted as an individual who never shared American values deeply rooted in
their patriotic nature and love of their country (Wood 14). Instead he is portrayed as an
individual interested in making personal gains rather than decolonizing the United States.
Gordon goes further to illustrate how it was only after he fell out with the English that coming

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home became a priority. During his stay in England and France, Franklin preferred to make
progress and improve social status. He was never interested in any issue relating him to the
United States. Gordon Wood dissects and exposes the negative side of Benjamin Franklin in a
much better way than what a surgeon would do. The main emphasis placed by Gordon is to show
the real negative picture of Benjamin Franklin before americanization process took over. Gordon
Brown conquers with one important role played by Benjamin Franklin where he convinced the
French to assist in liberating of United States from the hands of the British colony.
Benjamin Franklin is described as a quintessential man and a jack of all trades. He is
described as an inventor, scientist, diplomat, satirist, businessman, printer and politician. Most
attributes typical of Benjamin were learnt in France and England. He started out as a simple
individual in society and solely rose in the English and French society to become one of the
senior most members of the society.
The England social class gave Franklin the imperialist view of everything. It made him
believe in some questionable behaviors. Some included the lack of belief in God and
mistreatment of women. Gordon notes that Benjamin Franklin looked down upon his wife since
she had been scarcely educated (Wood 21). These were some of the current beliefs of the British
society. It was always about maintaining class. It gave Franklin the urge to become wealthier in
the society since wealth was associated with class. For Franklin to fit into the British system
several sacrifices had to be made. He had to engage in different money generating practices from
a small age.
Since he was the son of a candle maker, fitting in the English society was difficult.
Therefore, he sought to work hard to create or establish different businesses. The printing
business started did quite well from the beginning assisting him make a name for himself.
Similarly, he invented several important facets. They included the lightening rod, Franklin
glasses, a stove, the glass harmonica, and flexible urinary catheter (Wood 27). All these products
established brand associated with Benjamin Franklin. This gave him more fame in society raising
his social class very first.
After a short period of time, Franklin was involved in making speeches at social
gathering and formulated a groups known as Philadelphia’s American Philosophical Society
(Wood 78). The increase in fame came with a higher class status (Wood 45).
A trip to London where he had been assigned new roles became the major point of focus.
Franklin had been promoted to a bigger office which had better facilities compared to the other
surroundings. Additionally, he had been recognized as a critical part of the English system. He
expressed his great desire and love for England and at even one point considered it to be his
He had once been considered too much of an Englishman than American. This was
because most practices he had inherited and practiced came from the English culture. He had
became part and parcel of the imperialist practices that were dominantly practiced in England.
Additionally, he was a firm believer of classes in society.
However, he showed most behaviors associated with people from United States. He made
numerous inventions made to suit the society. Such behaviors were normally associated with
people from the United States. In 1770, the British wanted him to become part and parcel of the
patriot force (Wood 48). This was during a period in which there had been intense wars between
people in the United States and the Britain.

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When he rejected the offer, there was profound negativity associated with calling of
names (Wood 54). Some prominent ministers were publicly noted stating that Benjamin was an
enemy. This is what led him to move to United States (Wood 57). The way he was received in
the United States proved to be a major difference. After noting the suffering of the people in the
society and the effects of colonization, he became one of the patriots fighting for rights of
Once a patriot, he used all available means to fight the British. Most notably Franklin
chose to engage the French. He had lived in France during his early years and consequently
knew that the French suffered from old wounds inflicted by the British which ultimately resulted
to losing lands in Canada and near Mississippi. Therefore, this was an opportune moment where
the French could come in and help the French revenge their loss of land. He decided to write a
letter to the French asking them for assistance in case the United States were attacked by the
British (Wood 68).
The ultimate effect was more on the French who assisted to defeat the British and thus
regaining their position on the society. This act endeared him within and beyond the United
States (Wood 72). In fact, the French honor him with much more respect as compared to the
Americans. Three days are used to remember the man who helped restore the French dignity in
However, there exist a negative feeling among many American who feel that he has
dominated history yet initially he was a staunch believer and follower of British imperialist
tendencies. Most of his behaviors especially the imperialist tendencies and inventions are still
associated with people from the North. This shows the effect Franklin ha on their lives.
The author accomplished all the targets that were initially set forth at the beginning of the
book. The author managed to bring out all information relating to the specific years that the
events. All events were recorded chronologically and used all pieces of supporting evidence. The
book is enjoyable and significant since it brings out issues that are rarely addressed. It helped
bring out a different image of an iconic person whose life had initially been told from one

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Work cited

Wood, Gordon S. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. Penguin, 2005. Print.

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