By Jack Swift
He was never president of the United States, but he had many of the attributes that a president could sure use in that high office. That man was Benjamin Franklin. Although he was never president, he had much to do with the emergence of the U. S. into independence from Britain and beyond. He wasn’t perfect himself as a biography would attest, but he wrote and printed many quotes that were incorporated into the very popular Poor Richard’s Almanack. (Note: This is how almanack was spelled in the title of the book then.)
We’ve heard many of the quotes. Some of my personal favorites follow: “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead,” “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,” By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” and “Well done is better than well said.” These are only a few of the quotes of Franklin. A number of them are often quoted today.
He was a statesman, a scientist, an ambassador, an inventor, a publisher and a printer. He served as ambassador to England and later as ambassador to France. As a scientist he used a kite and a metal key to prove that lightning was a form of electricity. Among his inventions was the Franklin Stove that largely improved the heating devices that were prevalent during that time and made the winters more comfortable. He ran away from home in Boston as a seventeen-year-old apprentice printer in 1723. He arrived in Philadelphia with little money and means looking for a job. Within six years he was operator of his own newspaper and print shop. His newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, later become Saturday Evening Post. I always enjoyed reading the Saturday Evening Post. Franklin also invented bifocal glasses. On December 38, 1732, he published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack. Before that, he established the first lending library. One of his greatest deeds was his signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote that very important document but Franklin, as a member of the appointed committee, had input in the final draft. He also proposed daylight savings time to have one extra hour of daylight each day. Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. After a prolific life, he died in Philadelphia on April 17,1790 at the age of 84.
It is interesting to note that the Lost State of Franklin, an early attempt at self-government, was named for Franklin.