In the newest “Making America” video for PragerU, speaker and author Dinesh D’Souza discusses how the inventor, diplomat, and patriot Benjamin Franklin embodies the self-made man spirit that made the United States into a great nation.
“Franklin’s life, no less than his ideas, conveys the indomitable spirit of both invention and, just as important, self-invention, that define Americans and make them almost instantly distinguishable, even today, by people around the world,” D’Souza explains.
Franklin, the youngest of 17 children, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and would grow up to become one of the nation’s foremost inventors, printers, and statesmen. Although he had little formal education, Franklin was brilliant and came up with many innovations.
“He conducted early experiments in electricity, devised bifocal glasses, designed a new type of stove, organized lending libraries, formed Philadelphia’s first fire department, and founded the college that became the University of Pennsylvania,” says D’Souza.
On top of this, Franklin produced “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” one of the most popular pamphlets ever produced in America at the time.
When conflict came between the colonies and England, Franklin hoped that war could be avoided.
“He desperately tried to keep America out of a war with Britain, offering the British government every kind of compromise to avoid the conflict,” D’Souza says, “But when his efforts were rejected and he realized separation from the mother country was inevitable, he threw his heart and soul into the revolutionary cause, the struggle for independence.”
During the War for Independence, Franklin was key to getting France to join the conflict as an ally to the fledgling American nation. Without the aid of France, many historians do not believe that the Americans would have been successful in gaining independence.
After the successful conclusion of the war, Franklin played a pivotal role in keeping the various state delegates together during the drafting of the Constitution. Franklin, truly one of America’s most unique polymaths, always put his mind and efforts to the task at hand, whether it be negotiating with the French, conducting scientific experiments, or trying to cultivate personal virtue.
D’Souza argues that the life and character of Franklin was representative of many who would come to America and make a name for themselves through hard work and innovation.
“In America, class didn’t matter. Country of origin didn’t matter. Level of education didn’t matter. All that mattered was talent, hard work, and luck,” D’Souza says, “In America, you could make of yourself what you will, and you still can. Just as Benjamin Franklin did.”