This may seem a bit odd, but when I think about Ben Franklin, the first thing I consider is the statue of him on UPenn’s campus. The large statue shows him sitting in a chair and looking fairly dignified, in front of one of the original buildings on campus. It’s no surprise that the school showcases this statue–he did initially found the school after all–but what I find odd is the other statue later added in conjunction with this memorial statue. This other statue that I’m referring to is a large button situated across a pathway from the Franklin statue, as seen below.
It is believed that the creator of this sculpture piece thought that Franklin looked rather large in the statue (I’m sure Franklin wasn’t the skinniest man around, but I don’t feel that he looks particularly “fat” in the sculpture…but regardless), and since he’s in a sitting position, he may have popped a button off of his clothing. And voila, the button sculpture was created. I think this statue demonstrates a sort of parallel view that Americans have of Franklin, much like we discussed in class on Tuesday, showing that while Ben Franklin may have been a regal and dignified figure in American history, and one of the core founders of our nation, he is also seen as a bit of a joke at times, perhaps as a result of his weight, his sometimes crazy revolutionary ideas, or his numerous experiments that may not have been completely thought out beforehand (i.e. running through a storm with a key attached to a kite to “create” electricity).