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Comparing Benjamin Franklin And James Madison

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Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, both are famous men in America’s history, both are considered founding father’s having played key parts in this country’s development, and both of these two men are brilliant thinkers, each conjuring different ideals about issues at hand. Even with all these and more similarities, Benjamin Franklin, considered one of the greatest American minds of all time, and James Madison, considered the Architect of the Constitution, were different, and had different ideals on different issues. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the lives and ideals of Benjamin Franklin and James Madison.

Franklin was born in 1706 to Josiah, a tradesmen in the art of candle and soap making, and Abiah, a housewife. Franklin was the 8th child and youngest son. Madison on the other hand, was born in 1751, according to Madison in the Architect article, a “respectable though not the most opulent class”, mother and father who owned a huge plantation. Madison was the first born and received all it’s benefits. Franklin and his family had to work hard for a living. Madison, though, was raised on the fruits of slave labor, as stated in the Madison’s legacy article. Both of these men began a firm interest in books early in life. This lead them in their paths to what they would became later in life.

Franklin and Madison, both attended school, although, because of his background, Madison, was more formally educated than Franklin. Unlike Franklin’s brothers who were all skilled in different trades, Josiah wanted Franklin to work in a church. Therefore, Franklin needed a good education, but the price became to high and Franklin was forced to quite school and work in the family trade, soap production.

Franklin’s hunger for reading made his father realize that soap making wasn’t his trade, and sent him to work with his brother as an apprentice in his print shop, signing a contract to work till he was 21. Madison on the other hand, was well educated, his parents encourage his studies and provided him tutors to get a basic education, and even went to college. Unlike what was typical of the Anglican men, who went to William and Mary, Madison chose to go to the College of New Jersey, a Presbyterian school, which is now Princeton, where he did exceptionally well, as stated in the Madison’s legacy article.

Although, Madison had more education than Franklin, Franklin was still a very intelligent person, maybe even more than Madison, for these reasons, one, Franklin was born much earlier than Madison, almost 40 years, earlier, he had much more experience in areas that Madison hadn’t even begun to look at. Also, during those years, Franklin had time to visit many different places, like England, and France, and learn about their cultures, and their language, and he read much more material in that amount of time before Madison was born.

During their lives, Franklin and Madison held many positions. Franklin wasn’t as involved in politics as Madison, who was elected into the Virginia Convention, at an age when Franklin, if he was 25 would still be working in a print shop. Franklin’s career took many broad paths. He owned many papers and print shops, he was an ambassador to countries like France and England, he started many different clubs and organizations like the first library, the Junto club, the fire department, along with many other scientific inventions like the Franklin stove for instance. Even so, he was not completely out of the political scene, he was named to the Second Continental Congress to present the Articles of Confederation.

He also drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence, and was a member of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. After his return from France as a diplomat, he was elected President of Pennsylvania and member of Constitutional Convention, and lived to sign it. Madison’s career was more political. He served in the Virginia Legislature for a number of years and gained much insight on political thoughts and procedures. He even helped write Virginia’s state constitution. He was elected in 1780 to the Continental Congress to represent Virginia. In 1787, he served as one of Virginia’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention where earned the title he received as reported in the article by Alice J. Hall. After the constitutional convention, he wrote the Federalist papers to try and persuade people to ratify the Constitution. After the Constitution was ratified in 1788, Madison was elected to the House of Representatives in 1789. In 1790 Benjamin Franklin died, while Madison was only 39. Madison went on to become secretary of state for Thomas Jefferson in 1801, and was elected President from 1809 to 1817, after which he retires. Then again in 1829. He is elected to Virginia’s second constitutional convention, and is the only member there from the 1776 one. He dies 7 years later at his home in Montpelier.

One of the issues that they shared a common ground on was the issue of slavery.

Franklin didn’t grow up on a big plantation, and had no slaves, he had to work himself.

Madison on the other hand, lived off the fruits of slave labor his whole life, to quote the Madison’s Legacy article. He didn’t even sell his slaves after his death because he wanted to provide for his wife after he died. Even so, he denounced the institution of slavery, and tried to leave any uses of the word slave, or slavery out of the Constitution.

Madison believed that slavery hurt the slave and the owner. He even supported colonization efforts which sent free blacks back to Africa. Franklin’s views on slavery, but in 1787 he was nominated and elected as president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, a cause he supported since the 1730’s. His final public act was signing a memorial to Congress recommending dissolution of the slavery system.

In conclusion, Franklin and Madison are similar in their backgrounds, life, politics, and ideals, but they are very different. They came from vastly different backgrounds and became two of the most famous men in American History, Benjamin Franklin, America’s greatest mind, and James Madison, Architect of the Constitution.

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