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Benjamin Franklin(1706 – 1790) America’s first “Self-Made Man” “Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered by none …”
A Maxim, an Adage, An Aphorism: All Words to the Wise • Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. • Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked and never well mended. • Fish and visitors smell in three days. • He that lieth down with dogs shall rise with fleas.
Poor Richard’s Almanack • A Word to the Wise is Enough. • Many words don’t fill a bushel. • He that lives on Hope will Die Fasting. • There are no pains without gains. • Little strokes fell great oaks. • Now I have a sheep and a cow; everyone bids me good morrow.
Ben’s Early Life • Born in Boston • One of 17 children • Left school at the age of 10 to work with his father • Taught himself algebra, geometry, natural and physical sciences, logic, grammar, navigation, and French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Latin.
As a teenager, Benjamin • Apprenticed in his older brother’s print shop • Wrote political editorials under the name “Mrs. Silence Dogood” • When his brother discovered Franklin’s deception, they parted company on poor terms.
Already Politically Minded • Franklin’s editorials were highly opinionated writings speaking out against the British government, taxation. religion, and any other controversial topic he could explore.
When Franklin left his brother’s employ, his brother made sure he could not get a job in Boston. • So at 17, with only a few coins in his pocket earned from selling some of his books, Franklin’s friend Collins booked passage for him on a ship to New York.
A Funny Fact: • Collins secured Franklin’s passage by telling the captain that Franklin had gotten a girl pregnant and that the girl’s family insisted that Franklin marry her.
Early Struggles • No work was available in New York, so Franklin sailed to Philadelphia. • During the trip, Ben saved a drunk, drowning Dutchman and was given Pilgrim’s Progress, Franklin’s favorite book.
A Note About Pilgrim’s Progress A religious allegory written by a Puritan - John Bunyan and published in 1678 It is the story of a hero “Christian” and his journey to salvation. Franklin liked it for literary and historical reasons, not because he was a Christian.
Upon Arriving in Philadelphia - • Franklin had 1 Dutch dollar and 1 copper shilling. • His clothes, socks and a shirt, were stuffed in his pockets. • He bought three loaves of bread, carrying them under his arms, but having eaten his fill, Benjamin gave two of them to a woman and her child. • By 24, he was a prosperous merchant, printer, and publisher of a newspaper.
Franklin’s Plan for Moral Perfection TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
How Did He Order His Virtues? Franklin ordered his virtues so that the acquiring of one facilitated the acquisition of the next; in other words, if he mastered temperance first, temperance would make the attainment of silence easier. Once Franklin was temperate and silent, then order could then follow, etc.
How Did He Do? In pursuing moral perfection, Franklin found that “While my care was employ'd in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct.”
Ultimately, • Though he felt he miserably failed at attaining perfection, he believed he was the better person for his noble attempt, and his lack of success was not because it was impossible but because he was not completely committed to perfection’s attainment.
Franklin’s Inventions: • An open heating stove called the Franklin stove • Bifocal glasses • A type of harmonica • A rocking chair that could swat flies • An odometer • Swim Fins • Daylight Savings Time
Franklin’s Many Accomplishments • First public library • First fire station • Fire insurance • Founded the University of Pennsylvania • Promoted paved streets, sewer lines, and street lighting.
Franklin’s Most Noted Discovery was - • That lightening is an electrical current • He invented the lightening rod to protect people, buildings, and ships from electrocution.
In His Latter Years - • Franklin was a popular diplomat and spent several years in England representing the colonies’ interests. • When war was inevitable, he returned to America and helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
Aphorisms: Concise, witty truths about life. • If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; he that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing. • ‘Tis hard for an empty bag to stand upright. • A small leak will sink a great ship. • Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge. • One day is worth two tomorrows.