Study Questions and Essay Topics
George Washington is commonly known as the "Father of His Country." What claim, if any, does Franklin have to this title?
Franklin obsessed about his image. He believed it was essential to always appear honest and morally upright in order to achieve respect and power. Is this more or less true today than it was then?
What do you consider Franklin's single most important accomplishment?
Franklin was born a Puritan. Did he remain a Puritan? Support your answer with evidence from his life.
Herman Melville, who was no fan of Franklin, once wrote that Franklin was "the type and genius of his landeverything but a poet." What do you think Melville meant? Why?
Do you agree with Franklin's belief that every person can become more "healthy, wealthy, and wise" through hard work and self-discipline? Does Franklin's life prove this? Support your answer with evidence from his life.
One of Poor Richard's most famous sayings is "God helps them that help themselves." In our era, this saying is popular among conservatives. They believe that individuals are entirely responsible for their own actions and that government should play little or no role in running people's lives. Do you believe Franklin would support this interpretation of his saying? Why or why not?
Franklin was fascinated by early hot air balloons and carefully observed their launches. When a skeptic asked him "what is the use?" Franklin replied, "What use is a new born baby?" What do you think Franklin meant?
Why is Franklin often considered the "first American"?
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