12.1.1. The beginning of the XVIII century became the period if American Enlightenment. Many of the new developments are connected with life and activities of Benjamin Franklin. He is an American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist, whose many contributions rank him among the country’s greatest statesmen. Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston. The Franklin family was in modest circumstances, like most New Englanders of the time. At age 13 he was apprenticed to his brother James, who had recently returned from England with a new printing press. Benjamin learned the printing trade, devoting his spare time to the advancement of his The beginning of the Enlightenment. education.
12.2.2.At 23, Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, a dull, poorly edited weekly newspaper, which he made, by his witty style and judicious selection of news, both entertaining and informative. Franklin engaged in many public projects. He founded what was probably the first public library in America. He first published Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732, under the pen name Richard Saunders. This modest volume quickly gained a wide and appreciative audience, and its homespun, practical wisdom exerted a pervasive influence upon the American character.
12.2.3.Always interested in scientific studies, he founded the American Philosophical Society, an organization for The beginning of the Enlightenment. the promotion of science. He devised means to correct the excessive smoking of chimneys and invented the Franklin stove, which furnished greater heat with a reduced consumption of fuel. Franklin began his electrical experiments and performed his celebrated experiment with the kite in 1752. He invented the lightning rod and offered what is called the “one-fluid” theory in explanation of the two kinds of electricity, positive and negative. In recognition of his impressive scientific accomplishments, Franklin received honorary degrees from the University of Saint Andrews and the University of Oxford.
12.2.4. During the American Revolution, Franklin became one of the committee The beginning of the Enlightenment. of five chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also one of the signers of that historic document, addressing the assembly with the characteristic statement: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Franklin’s most notable service to his country was the result of his great skill in diplomacy. To his common sense, wisdom, wit, and industry, he joined great firmness of purpose, matchless tact, and broad tolerance. Both as a brilliant conversationalist and a sympathetic listener, Franklin had a wide and appreciative following in the intellectual salons of the day. For the The beginning of the Enlightenment. most part, his literary reputation rests on his unfinished Autobiography, which is considered by many the epitome of his life and character.
12.2. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.
12.2.1.Another important figure of the period isThomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. He was one of the most brilliant individuals in history. His interests were boundless, and his accomplishments were great and varied. He was a philosopher, educator, naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, pioneer in scientific farming, musician, and writer, and he was the foremost spokesman for democracy of The beginning of the Enlightenment. his day. Jefferson swore his hostility, he said, to “every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” During his lifetime he sought to develop a government that would best assure the freedom and well-being of the individual.
12.2.2.At 17, Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in Virginia's capital city, Williamsburg. After that Jefferson was admitted to the practice of law in Virginia. He was reasonably successful as a lawyer, but he did not earn enough to support a Virginia gentleman. Jefferson's main source of income, like that of most other Virginia lawyers, was The beginning of the Enlightenment. his land. In this occupation, as in his studies, he was most methodical. He observed the growth of his plants and trees, keeping records of them in a special garden book. “There is,” he once wrote, “not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.” The year of his admission to practice law, Jefferson began work on his mountaintop estate, Monticello, near what is now Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson designed the mansion himself in the classical style of architecture.
12.2.3. In 1776, Jefferson was in Congress. He was asked to draft the resolution for independence. The text of the declaration The beginning of the Enlightenment. was debated, several changes were made, and some parts were dropped entirely. Jefferson regretted especially the deletion of a long paragraph denouncing the slave trade and the whole institution of slavery as a “cruel war against human nature itself.” The objective of the declaration, in Jefferson's own words, was to justify American independence “in terms so plain and full as to command their assent.” As an expression of the philosophy of the natural rights of people in an age when absolute monarchs ruled throughout the world, it had an immense impact in America and in Europe as well.
12.2.4.Thomas Jefferson The beginning of the Enlightenment. was inaugurated on March 4, 1801, the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. Two years later he paid Napoleon Bonaparte of France $15 million for the land west of the Mississippi River. It came to be known as the Louisiana Purchase. He successfully served two terms as President. Jefferson and his friend Adams, both of whom had played such great parts in the winning of independence, died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826. Jefferson left detailed instructions for his burial in the graveyard of his estate. A simple monument was to mark his resting place. He specified that the monument The beginning of the Enlightenment. was to be made of coarse stone so that “no one might be tempted hereafter to destroy it for the value of the materials.”