Consenting fathers: benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson essay

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Consenting fathers: benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson essay

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You have completed the work for an Associate of Arts Degree and for this you are to be congratulated. You have taken an important step toward personal fulfillment and you have, also, qualified yourselves to be of greater service to society. As I was reflecting about what might be appropriate to say to you on this important occasion, I began thumbing through some of my old papers and speeches, looking for a relevant message.

As I did so, I encountered Consenting fathers: benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson essay observation which I had written in the middle sixties, when I was reviewing the impact upon American society and culture of the ideas of such writers as Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ivan Pavlov, Vilfredo Pareto, and several others.

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Each of them had, of course, in some way contributed to the acceptance of a conclusion about the nature of human behavior which was contrary to the traditional conviction of American intellectuals that man is a rational being. As a result of their very challenging ideas, the twentieth century has become a period in American history during which the confidence in man's rationalism has been challenged.

Many scholars, especially in the fields of psychology and philosophy, have significantly abandoned their faith in man's capacity for rational behavior.

Consenting fathers: benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson essay

They do not confess to have accepted the idea that man is incapable of responding rationally to his environment or to personal challenge, but they contend that other forces, such as subconscious drives or the conditioning influence of the environment—economic and social institutions—can produce behavior which is not significantly directed by the reasoning powers of mankind.

My reflections on this transition in thought left me with the conclusion that American intellectuals had moved from a conviction of almost lofty idealism and hope to one of earthly realism and pessimism. And this, perhaps, is the dilemma of contemporary American society, and it prompted me, at that time, to draw some conclusions about the role of education and the expectations that one might have of it as it influences the lives of students.

As I have pondered the implications of this observation and the nature of the democratic system of government, I have become somewhat discouraged, for I sense in contemporary America a tendency to emphasize the importance of a quality of human behavior which I regard as inimical to the well-being of the citizen and of society.

My reflections have caused me, therefore, to wonder about I the potential of the average person to achieve meaningful fulfillment or a worthy life and 2 the future of representative democratic government in the United States. Democratic self-government, as conceived and developed in America, has been understood to contain two essential elements: Believing so, I have argued that public education must, if it is to fulfill its responsibility to the American people, encourage in each student a recognition of the need for and the importance of a personal ethic.

In this role, education must serve to reinforce the character building influence of parents upon their children who obviously are to be the future citizens and rulers of this nation.

I have reasoned that the schools could accomplish this objective, in part at least, by providing meaningful instruction in the ethical and social values of such eminent men as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and others who have distinguished themselves in government, as well as literature, religion, philosophy, education and science, and who have helped to fashion the institutions of this nation, to direct its history, and to influence the lives of many generations of its citizens.

But this concern, as I have already suggested, does not appear to be one shared by many contemporary writers, thinkers and intellectuals. They are focusing their literary and intellectual powers more dramatically upon two needs: The emphasis is upon the obligations of society and the rights and freedom of the citizen.

Both of these goals are worthy, and I would not disagree with them per se. It is the degree of emphasis which concerns me. In many instances the exercise of the new freedom amounts to an expression of personal individualism in a context which is void of value, whether one of religious morality or a humanist ethic.

In addition, it encompasses the conviction that the objective of the state is to promote an opportunity for the individual to achieve freedom, justice and happiness; that the implementation of the nation's ideals is dependent upon the enlightened self-interest of the individual, and that the citizen is regarded as responsible for his behavior, which must be rational and also reasonable.

It was such convictions that encouraged the founding fathers to struggle for independence from the mother country and then to draft and put into effect a constitutional form of government which contained many innovations—the concept of federalism, separation of church and state, the right of citizens to vote and to hold elective office, a constitutional guarantee of the rights of the citizen, the indirect election of the chief executive, and the separation of powers—all designed to avert the establishment of political tyranny or rule by a privileged class, and the destruction of the rights of the citizen and his personal freedom.

No nation in the world at that time contemplated such a remarkable transfer of political power to the people. Perhaps, the faith and expectations that our colonial forebears had in the average man can best be illustrated by quotations from two eminent leaders of the l8th century, one in the area of religious self-government and the other in the area of political self-government.

The first statement was made early in the l8th century by the Reverend John Wise. His faith in the ability of individuals to act responsibly encouraged him to advocate the democratic concept of church governance and his thinking contributed significantly to the acceptance in colonial America of Congregationalism, or government of the church by the members of the church—the laymen.

Many 18th-century colonial thinkers were significantly influenced by the philosophy expressed by Reverend Wise, and they consistently affirmed their faith in the ability of the citizen to govern himself and the importance, therefore, of introducing government by popular rule into the colonies and of making that concept the basis for the establishment of the new American nation.--Thomas Jefferson.

--Benjamin Franklin (One) who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as one who can't.

Franklin Essays Sample & Examples

war means families left without fathers and mothers. All you have to do is hold your first dying soldier in your arms, and have that terribly futile feeling that his life is flowing out and you can't do anything about it.

The presence of the amending clause was one of the factors that led Thomas Jefferson commentators gain such prestige by the force of their reasoning that they themselves become authoritative sources of constitutional law.

Thomas Cooley's (Hamilton et al. [] , p. ). Later in the same essay he adopted John Adams. Consenting Fathers: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Though Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were contemporaries, their views, backgrounds and modes of influence were very different.

Benjamin Franklin was born of a large and poor family and rose to become a model of the emerging 4/5(2). A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.

Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration The Assembly Room in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence Portable writing desk that Jefferson used to draft and write the Declaration of Independence.

Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are frequently regarded to be two of the most influential figures in early American history. Both men contributed greatly to the founding of the nation and are considered to be .

Full text of "Thomas Jefferson And Education In A Republic"