Kaitlin Flores, Vince Mastantuno, and James Williams
Franklin’s letter, “To the Public Advertiser,” submitted on May 22nd 1765, is an artful critique of the most recent print sent out to the public. Franklin denotes sarcastically that the author of the last print, who calls himself “the Spectator,” is an ingenious writer. His sarcasm is made apparent in the following sentences to claim that this writer is attempting to mock the other new writers and their pieces. Franklin conjectures that if the Spectator was able to succeed in such ridicule it would be a great injury to the readers because they will believe almost anything printed.
Franklin goes on to say that at least these bogus stories can be useful for making small talk or for a good laugh by those who are aware of their nonsensical contents. He then explains that these Englishmen, or readers of the paper, tend to be quiet if they have nothing to say, when they are silent they get sad, and when they are sad they hang themselves. This extreme exaggeration in itself helps to support Franklin’s claim that people will believe anything they read and perhaps will even believe what he as just said. Franklin follows by giving a few examples of topics printed about and how they are not often factual or helpful to public education. Franklin asserts that on his own credibility as a traveler, some of these prints are true, but not usually. He then rattles off several items of trade and how even they are extorted to appear more valuable and believed to be worth more because people will believe anything.
Franklin nears the end of his article with a tall tail about how Cod will fly out of the water to escape enemies (predators) and whales will follow them; he claims the great leap of the whale up the Niagara Falls is “one of the finest spectacles in nature!” This example helps support his thesis about the dangers of false print being accessible to the public because anyone who would believe such a story or even consider it had some truth to it, would not think about questioning the credibility of the publishers.
In closing, Franklin calls upon his own credibility as a member of an honest writers group, and asks that these publishers print fact not fiction. He points out how little writers make off of their works in these newspapers and that it is imperative for truth to be printed in order to maintain balance amongst society and not fracture the readers trust or education. He ends the article by naming other honest writers and again reminds us of the need for factual news to be printed.
In Benjamin Franklin’s 4th essay published May 14th in 1722 under the pen name, Silence Dogood, he draws to attention, through vivid description and details of the collegiate society, one of the current issues of that time period: college education. Just like Franklin’s parents had to choose out of their many children whom would be able to attend college, many other families struggled with the same problem. Franklin’s parents’ decision was based on financial and cognitive ability i.e. which child had shown the most potential and had the best chance of prospering thereafter.
In this article Franklin discusses with his Reverend his own struggle, “I ask’d his Advice about my young Son William, whether or no I had best bestow upon him Academical Learning.” Franklin reiterates Clericus, the Reverend’s, determination to persuade him into sending William to college and after which Franklin takes a walk in the garden, falls asleep, and dreams of how the college accepts its students and later returns them into the world slightly educated and more arrogant. Franklin suggests that it was common of the time to send 1 child to school if they had the financial means but what families did not account for was the child’s ability to perform in school and the marginal benefit they would later receive having sent them. He states, “I reflected in my Mind on the extream Folly of those Parents, who, blind to their Childrens Dulness, and insensible of the Solidity of their Skulls, because they think their Purses can afford it, will needs send them to the Temple of Learning, where, for want of a suitable Genius, they learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a Room genteely….and from whence they return, after Abundance of Trouble and Charge, as great Blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.”
In essence, Franklin saw the various children receiving admittance into the Temple of Learning then later exiting into professions such as merchandising, travelling, or even nothing and while those emerged from this gate, there was another path he spoke of that lead to the “Temple of Theology.” This one he described as holding the painful and laborious businesses and also the path the majority of the crowd followed down. After he recanted this bizarre dream to Clericus, they mutually decided that this was an accurate representation of Harvard College.
This equestrian statue of George Washington, located in the Boston Public Garden, was sculpted by Thomas Ball in the 1850’s. Later, in 1869, the statue was unveiled before the public with a thirteen-gun salute and is remembered as a time of intense local pride. Shortly before this, in 1856, the statue of Benjamin Franklin in front of Old City Hall on School St. graced the public. Two of the 18th century’s greatest historical contributors and figures in the shaping of our Nation commemorated in stone right int he heart of Boston.
Like Washington, Benjamin Franklin was among the few of the signees of the Declaration of Independence and stands as a major contributor in American history to the political and scientific discoveries made in the 18th century.