Benjamin Franklin, ‘The First American’

“I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth, I traveled much. I observed different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves and, of course, became poorer. And on the contrary, the less that was done for them, the more they did for themselves and became richer.”

~Benjamin Franklin

17 January 2011

Today America honors the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr (15 January 1929). The day has been filled with tributes to the civil rights leader across the internet, on television, and on radio. We are profoundly grateful to Dr. King for his contributions to America. Today we  also wish to remember that this day is the anniversary of the birth of one of our nation’s Founders, Benjamin Franklin.

Wikipedia has an extensive biograph on this remarkable man. It begins:

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, political theoristpoliticianpostmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rodbifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as a writer and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work,educationcommunity spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.” To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin, “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer inPhiladelphia, the leading city in the colonies…

At Glenn Beck’s website there is an article about Franklin and related video from Beck’s “Founders’ Fridays” series.

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