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Michael Warner: Representational Politics of Benjamin Franklin (Essay Sample)


This is an essay based on Michael Warner\'s article \"Franklin: The Representational Politics of the Man of Letters.\"

Michael Warner: Representational Politics of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was easily the most prominent American during his day. He lived by wisdom and wrote extensively. He was well known as an inventor, a scientist, a printer, an economist, a musician, and a political leader. Franklin was among the United States’ founding fathers and was “the First American” in a number of ways. For many years, Franklin served as the British postmaster for the protectorates. This enabled him to establish the first communications network across America. He was energetic and active in community matters, state and colonial politics, national politics, as well as international affairs (Jolly 354). Franklin served as the Pennsylvania governor from 1758 to 1788. He believed in equality and freedom of all men and freed his slaves, which made him one of the most legendary abolitionists.
According to Warner, the career of Benjamin Franklin as a Republican revolved around an inevitable difficulty. While the task of a statesman was to symbolize legitimate power, republicanism’s task was to take away power from the individual (Warner 357). Therefore, the Republican statesman became a contradiction with respect to the Republican principles. He became an embodiment of something that, by its very definition, was not possible to embody. Critics may ask whether Franklin was the Ideal American. In addition, an objection may be raised that Franklin was never a member of the American elite. In this regard, he could not have been among the elites since the culture of the elite trumpeted the ideals of the common person. This objection, however, can be dealt with swiftly. In Warner’s case, ideal is looked at from the perspective of “representative” in the sense of an example to be desired.
A completely opposed disagreement is that Franklin was never ideal since he was a non-heroic figure. He had no resplendent military exploits and his famous spectacles gave him a more shopkeeper look than that of a national helmsman. However, it is perhaps for this reason that he was viewed as a good example by the common people who aspired to achieve as Franklin did. Franklin was the first to make a career wholly out of letters. All the prior figures that had been viewed as men of letters such as Cotton, Edwards, Mathers, and Taylor attained their eminence in oral setting through preaching. It is only with Franklin ...
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