NOTE: EXTENDED DEADLINE DUE TO THE HOLIDAY. PLEASE POST BY WED., SEPT. 27TH.
For the upcoming week, we move away from the religious founders and adventurers that first settled on Native American lands to consider the parallel lives of the famed “Founding Father” Benjamin Franklin and the equally impressive (though almost completely unknown) Venture Smith, an enslaved African who freed himself and his family to achieve his own version of “the American dream” by owning a large stretch of land along the Connecticut River.
View: Franklin Documentary
As this video aims to show, Franklin was a product of the Enlightenment, a period that encouraged intellectual freedom, religious tolerance, and rational thought (versus unthinking dogmatism). Enlightenment thinkers trusted in science and progressive ideals to help humans reach their fullest potential.
Read: the following chapters from Franklin’s Autobiography (written in 1790).
Chapter II: Beginning Life as a Printer
Chapter III: Arrival in Philadelphia
Chapter IX: Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection
Chapter XVIII: Scientific Experiments
Read: Venture Smith, A Narrative of a Native of Africa (1798)
Post: By Monday, September 25, discuss one section from either the Smith or Franklin reading that you found particularly interesting. Alternately, consider how their lives were similar and/or different. Be sure to read what your fellow students post before you. Don’t repeat his or her points but consider extending on them.
Read and comment on Franklin’s Petition to Congress in 1790, requesting an end to Slavery: Petition