Wednesday, October 20, 2010

B. Franklin, Printer

Dr. Benjamin Franklin [Wikipedia]

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 American 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, education, community 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."

Thirteen Virtues

Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of thirteen virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his thirteen virtues as:
  1. "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
  2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
  3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
  4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
  5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
  6. "Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
  7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
  8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
  9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
  10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
  11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
  12. "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."
  13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

    Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week "leaving all others to their ordinary chance". While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues and by his own admission, he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, "I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit."
The Junto
Also known as the Leather Apron Club

the word [Junto] is a mistaken use of the masculine singular Spanish adjective "joined", mistaken for the feminine singular noun "junta", "a meeting". Both derive from Latin "iunct-", past participle of "iungere", "to join" 
In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community." The club met Friday nights, first in a tavern and later in a house, to discuss moral, political, and scientific topics of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia. Although most of the members were older than Franklin, he was clearly their leader.

Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library, initially assembled from their own books. This did not suffice, however. Franklin then conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. 

In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. Originally, the books were kept in the homes of the first librarians, but in 1739 the collection was moved to the second floor of the State House of Pennsylvania, now known as Independence Hall. In 1791, a new building was built specifically for the library. 

The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library with 500,000 rare books, pamphlets, and broadsides, more than 160,000 manuscripts, and 75,000 graphic items.

Franklin describes the formation and purpose of the Junto in his autobiography:
I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, [1727] I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.
Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory; and to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties. 

Hutchinson Letters Affair

an incident that increased tensions between the American colonies and the British government [prior to the American Revolution], which by December 1772, was strained to begin with by the Sugar, Stamp, Quartering, Declaratory and Townshend Acts.

At that time, Benjamin Franklin, who was living in England as a representative of several colonies including Massachusetts, anonymously received a packet of thirteen letters. In these private letters, Thomas Hutchinson, the royal Governor of Massachusetts, and lieutenant governor Andrew Oliver made some damning comments which proved they were encouraging London to crack down on the rights of the Bostonians, [on colonial rights]. Hutchinson recommended that popular government be taken away from the people "by degrees", and that there should be "abridgement of what are called English liberties." 

Franklin, believing that his friends in Boston should know this information, sent the letters to them on the condition that they not be published or widely circulated. However, the letters were published in the Boston Gazette in June 1773. Bostonians were outraged and forced Hutchinson back to England.

The British government was infuriated about the publication of private correspondence and demanded to know who had leaked the letters. In December 1773, the government accused three innocent people of leaking the documents. To protect them, Franklin admitted his guilt and he was reprimanded in January 1774. Franklin now appeared to the British as the fomenter of serious trouble. Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, 1774. Later that year, [or March 1775 conflicting sources] Franklin left England and returned to America, [where he would serve in the Second Continental Congress and help lead the American Revolution].

Editor of the Declaration of Independence
[for the Acceptance of Congress Without Its Mangling]

The committee of Five, after discussing the general outline that the document should follow, decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. He then consulted the others, made some changes, and then produced another copy incorporating these alterations. The committee presented this copy to the Congress on June 28, 1776. The title of the document was "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.".

Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several key changes to the draft.
ReEnactment from the mini-series John Adams

At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by Hancock that they must all hang together: "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."


Founding Faith 
by Steven Waldman





The Works of Benjamin Franklin
___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Benjamin Franklin 
Published Works

including the private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence 
Together with The Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
 Edited by Frank Woodworth Pine

Benjamin Franklin's Letter to Alexander Small Nov 5, 1789

1789 Benjamin Franklin 155
To Alexander Small
Philadelphia, 5, November, 1789-

   Dear Sir:--I received your several favors of April 23rd, May 9th, and June 2d, together with the manuscript concerning Ventilation, which will be inserted in our next volume.
   I have long been of your opinion that your [England's] legal provision for the poor is a very great evil, operating as it does to the encouragement of idleness. We have followed your example, and begin now to see our error, and, I hope, shall reform it. I find by your letter, that every man has patience enough to bear calmly and coolly the injuries done to other people. You have perfectly forgiven the royalists, and you seem to wonder that we should still retain any resentment against them for their joining with the savages to burn our houses, and murder and scalp our friends, our wives, and our children. I forget who it was that said: "We are commanded to forgive our enemies, but we are nowhere commanded to forgive our friends." Certain it is, however that atrocious injuries done to us by our friends are naturally more deeply, resented than the same done by enemies. They have left us, to live under the government of their king in England and Nova Scotia. We do not miss them, nor wish their return; nor do we envy
them their present happiness.
   The accounts you give me of the great prospects you have respecting your manufactures, agriculture, and commerce, are pleasing to me; for I still love England and wish it prosperity. You tell me that the government of France is abundantly punished for its treachery to England in assisting us. You might also have remarked that the government of England had been punished for its treachery to France in assisting the Corsicans, and in seizing her ships in time of full peace, without any previous declaration of war. I believe governments are pretty near equal in honesty, and cannot with much propriety praise their own in preference to that of their neighbors.
   You do me too much honor in naming me with Timoleon. I am like him only in retiring from my public labors; which indeed my stone and other infirmities of age have made indispensably necessary.
   I hope you are by this time returned from your visit to your native country, and that the journey has given a firmer consistence to your health. Mr. Penn's prosperity in this country, which you inquire about, is still immensely great; and I understand he has received ample compensation in England for the part he lost.
   I think you have made a happy choice of rural amusements: the protection of the bees, and destruction of the hop insect. I wish success to your experiments, and shall be glad to hear the result. Your "Theory of Insects" appears the most ingenious and plausible of any that have hitherto been proposed by philosophers.
   Our new Constitution is now established with eleven States, and the accession of a twelfth is soon expected. We have had one session of Congress under it, which was conducted with remarkable prudence and a good deal of unanimity. Our late harvests were plentiful, and our produce still fetches a good price, through an abundant foreign demand and the flourishing state of our commerce. I am ever, my friend, yours most affectionately,
         B. Franklin.


Franklin's Request for Prayer "...if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel..."
"...I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business..."

The American Form of Government: When Benjamin Franklin exited the Constitutional convention he was asked by a woman “Sir what have you given us?” his immediate response was “A republic ma’am, if you can keep it.” Yet most Americans today have been persuaded that our nation’s Governmental System is a Democracy and not a Republic. The difference between these two is essential in understanding Americanism and the American system.

Franklin's Letter To Ezra Stiles "Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them."


Poor Richards Aphorisms (Poor
Benjamin Franklin As Governor of Pensylvania came up with a plan to raise church attendance
Benjamin Franklin's Christianity and sanity were questioned because he was Fiercly anti-Slavery
Early in life Benjamin Franklin called himself a "Deist" which the definition at the time does not match up with the current definition, then it meant mere skeptisism about the divinity of Jesus, Was very active religiously, only not Orthadox.

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