Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Abigail Adams’s Letter to John Adam
Foundational documents such as Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography showcase what kind of brilliant individuals our nation was built from while also exemplifying the prevalence and importance of the ideas they proposed in our world today. Not only do we see these ideals in positive aspects of our current day but also in lots of political, social, and environmental issues that divide our society. Altogether, the foundational documents can be examined to explain how various important issues arise that are in wide circulation today such as climate change.
To begin, ever since predictions started being communicated among scientists revolving around global climate change, I had always been interested in it. The environment is very important to me and is something that I think more people need to be concerned about and aware of. When reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, it is clear that he was a very high intellectual and influential person during the era of the early Republic and that there is definitely lots of valuable information we can glean from his writings.
For example, he discusses how a person might live an orderly and moral life through rationality and justice. He comes up with thirteen virtues he believed were necessary and made sure they were attainable where he, “determined to give a week’s strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offense against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day” (86).
Not only did these virtues apply to an individual, but they could apply to an entire nation with how orderly he presents them. Moreover, his way of thinking seemed to really advance society and challenge people to look further into the world, not just accept issues for how they’ve been presented. With that being said, since not all people are going to agree or respect one another’s opinions, controversial issues are bound to arise and cause conflicting ideas among individuals. The issue of climate change definitely falls right into this category of being an issue that’ll divide society, which it absolutely does in our world today. There are very distinct and conflicting sides that can be seen as a downfall in some eyes however, I think this is exactly what challenges us. This is what forward-thinking is all about, pushing one another to think differently, see from the other side, form new ideas, and mold a solution or even just agree to disagree with opposing ideas. Without conflict, there wouldn’t be anything pushing us to go further. Another example from a foundational document is Abigail Adams letter to her husband where she writes, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands” (3). Abigail demands civil equality for women and pointed out that this unlimited power of men must be diminished in order to make strides towards justice for all. Although this attempt didn’t convince her husband, this is another example of forward-thinking for this time. Overall, thinkers like Abigail and Benjamin Franklin are what drives society forward and into the future. They are those who challenge the status quo, force others to think differently, and make choices that’ll change the world forever.
In conclusion, although the ways people lived and the issues they faced back during the era of the early Republic were completely different than our modern-day, the documentation we can examine from that time is still extremely prevalent and useful to our everyday lives. Important conflicts and issues that have arisen in our world are all due to forward thinkers like Abigail Adams and Benjamin Franklin. They have paved the way for the generations that followed to advance logic, question the way the world may seem, and build knowledge. Climate change has seemed like an issue that is very difficult to resolve however, with this evolving way of thinking, one side will prevail and push our world forward into the future.
- Franklin, Benjamin. (1995). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Charles W Elliot, Presented by Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/148/148-h/148-h.htm.
- Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March – 5 April 1776, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/