Benjamin Franklin: the Enlightenment Figure

1963 words 8 pages
Cameron Geiss Geiss 1
HIST 2111, Wolf
Benjamin Franklin Writing
9/22/09
Benevolent Leader for a Virtuous Nation There were many people that helped contribute to the Enlightenment, but the most prominent American leader was a well-know political figure named Benjamin Franklin. The Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason, was period of time when people tried to justify life in terms of scientific theory and rationalism. “The Enlightenment was responsible for inspiring revived interests in education, science, and literature” (“HistoryKing.com”). It also emphasized progression away from traditional customs and foundations
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Later, after Franklin left his father’s care and was open to influences of the world he was converted to a new religion; Deism. Through his fame, Franklin contributed to “the growth of Enlightenment rationalism” (Foner, 152) by supporting the newly established religion of Deism. Deism changed how people in the New and Old world viewed divine authority by challenging traditional religious beliefs. Franklin was attracted to this religion, because he found the arguments much stronger than those of other religions. In his autobiography he states, “And from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness & power concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world” (Franklin, 74). This quote unearths the religious leader’s support for his beliefs. He expresses that if God is perfect and everything God makes is perfect, then how could something that is scientifically proven in nature be imperfect. Thus, from this standpoint, life must be governed by natural law. Franklin, because he “formed religious opinions based on reason, independent of authority or dogma” was known as a “Freethinker” (Franklin, 74). In a sense he was a pioneer of his own religion, recruiting other members, because of his intellectual fame. His religious ideals were circulated through his newspapers and helped spur the Great Awakening. During the Great Awakening Deism was attacked by Old Light ministers wanting to

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