Though Franklin was sometimes idealistic, he never lost his connection to the "common man." He had grown up in a relatively poor family and understood the attitudes and values of most working people. He always argued for his progressive ideas in commonsensical, down-to-earth language. More importantly, Franklin was funny. His popular Poor Richard almanacs were full of jokes and sarcasm that even the lowest members of society could relate to and understand. Franklin was irreverent and intellectual at the same time. He could be sarcastic or serious, crass or refined, in whatever combination he thought was appropriate for achieving his ends. Franklin could appeal to everyone because he knew how to control his image. Modern scholars, who must rely mainly Franklin's own writings to understand him, often think of him as a chameleon who changed his skin to fit the surroundings. As a result, many historians have tried to unmask the "real" Franklin. Some have argued that Franklin's good works were really just ploys to increase his power and influence, and that his success in business was the result of ruthlessness and even dishonesty. Ultimately, we must individually decide for ourselves whether Franklin deserves as much praise as his contemporaries gave him. It is clear, though, that he worked very hard to accomplish things that would benefit both himself and his society.

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