When reading the works of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, it is very recognizable that each of them has a distinct temperament. One of the first things I happened to notice when reading the works of Franklin and Paine was the difference of belief and reasoning. I felt that Franklin was more of a believer than Paine because he had a very religious background and was a strong advocate for organized religion.
A great example that shows this is in the second part of his autobiography when he says, “Tho’ I seldom attended and Public Worship, I had still an Opinion of its Propriety, and of its Utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual Subscription for the Support of the only Presbyterian Minister or Meeting we had in Philadelphia. ” What I deciphered here was that Franklin does not particularly attend these scheduled religious practices, but he does support the idea of public worship. On the other hand, Paine seems to lean more towards the idea of reasoning rather than belief. This is very apparent because in the very first sentence of “The Crisis” he says, “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. ” Whether or not you agree with either of their philosophies, you can tell how passionate they are about their ideas.
Another difference between Franklin and Paine is their variance in religion itself. As stated earlier, Franklin does not attend religious gatherings at churches, however he does support the idea of religious gatherings. Paine sees religion through a political standpoint and talks about the many problems with a monarchial government, especially England. He backs this up by saying, “As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. ” What Paine says here is that there should not be a government with a king or queen because the Bible says so.
Religion is not the only difference in temperament that Franklin and Paine have. They also have a difference on their views of America. Franklin says that America has improved from the significant number of libraries by saying, “These libraries have improv’d the general Conversation of the Americans, made the common Tradesmen and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the Stand so generally made throughout the Colonies in defense of their Privileges. ” Paige has a different view of America saying, “The conferring members being met, let their businesses be to frame a continental charter, or Charter of the United Colonies. ” Again, Paige has a more political mindset, although this time he is referring to America instead of religion.
One more thing that I noticed between these two writers was their views of other races. In “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”, Franklin talks about Native Americans and how even though they treat white people with kindness and respect, they are treated with rudeness and hostility. One example of this from the text is when Franklin says, “Perhaps, if we could examine the manners of different nations with impartiality we should find no people so rude, as to be without any rules of politeness; nor any so polite, as not to have some remains of rudeness. ” Here he is talking about how if we had a politer culture, we would be kinder to the Native Americans. Comparing this to Paine, he talks about Jewish people and how they ruined mankind by starting monarchial governments. This can be backed up in his text “Common Sense” when he says, “Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them. ”
Franklin and Paine both have their own specific temperament when it comes to their writings. Franklin was more devoted to belief than reason, while Paine was more devoted to reason than belief. Franklin also supports the gathering of religious practices, whereas Paine focuses more on how religion warns humanity to not have monarchies for governments. They also have a different temperament when it comes to their views on America. Franklin says that education and the libraries have helped America. Paine has a different view and thinks that America should sign a constitution that protects the rights of citizens. Lastly, Franklin shares his views on the rudeness of white people towards Native Americans, whereas Paine says that Jewish people are the cause for monarchies. With all of the topics that these writers have shared in their works, there are many differences that can be seen in each of their temperaments.