Thursday, December 27, 2018

Young Benjamin Franklin (Nick Bunker)

Much has been written about Benjamin Franklin’s life, especially the parts pertaining to his inventive side and his diplomatic prowess. He was also one of the early statesmen in the American colonies and soon-to-be American republic. However, capturing the evolution of Franklin into the preeminent American requires a dive into his early life. Nick Bunker’s Young Benjamin Franklin is a fascinating and ingenious read into a man that many could argue is the poster definition of a Renaissance Man.

Bunker takes us back to before Franklin’s 1706 birth, chronicling his family through its journey from Northamptonshire, England to London to Boston. Franklin’s evolution and rise to American prominence is paralleled in some respect by the life journeys of his uncle and his father, both moving upward and beyond in order to seek a better life. It was in Boston that Josiah, Ben’s father, cobbled through a life of Puritan idealism. Ben struck out on his own, alienating many in his family for his choices, as he moved from Boston to Philadelphia to London and back to Philadelphia over a several year period. Ben ultimately became the City of Brotherly Love’s dominant printer and helped forge many institutions that have carried on to the present day.

The early Franklin’s evolution into science is also chronicled, with the voyage ending just as his well-known electricity experimentation begins. Most of us are well aware of how the rest of the story ends up. But learning about Logan, Penn, Kinsey, Hopkinson, Allen, Potts, Nutt, and many other names that carry on to the present day in streets, schools, buildings, and communities throughout Pennsylvania helps us see Franklin’s astute understanding of relationships and alliances from an early age, with that knowledge helping shape him and our early nation in the years to come. Bunker does a great  job educating the reader about life in early 18th Century America and how Franklin evolved with the colonies and the times.