In the morass of political correctness that floods school curricula today, most students don’t get to hear much about Benjamin Franklin.
Aside from helping draft the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was an entrepeneur, scientist, vegetarian, publisher, husband, father, founding father, inventor, diplomat, musician, writer (and singer) of drinking songs, postmaster, and author.
He was also a great wit, with a great sense of fun. He’s attributed with advising young men to pursue older women, “because they’re more grateful”, and there are lots of anecdotes like this one,
Ben Franklin was a little stout later in life and it was said that in Paris a young woman, tapping him on his protruding abdomen, said,”Dr. Franklin, if this were on a woman, we’d know what to think.” And Franklin replied,”Half an hour ago, Mademoiselle, it was on a woman, and now what do you think?”
Franklin was indeed eminently quotable.
Several years ago I was at the shore browsing at Atlantic Books when I came across Franklin’s autobiography, published by Dover Thrift Editions, and was fascinated by it. Franklin’s purpose in writing this book was to describe to his son what was important in life. The Autobiography is brief and very interesting. You can find it on line.
The Husband’s an amateur historian, and a couple of years ago I gave him Walter Isaacson’s excellent Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, which is now available in paperback. The Husband highly recommends this book because “it gives you an appreciation of why Franklin was trusted with matters of State, especially as ambassador”. Isaacson’s Franklin is a brilliant man that shaped our nation,
He was the only man who shaped all the founding documents of America: the Albany Plan of Union, the Declaration of Independence, the treaty of alliance with France, the peace treaty with England, and the Constitution.
This week I’ve been reading the companion book to the Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World Tercentenary Exhibition (the Exhibition is currently in Houston). The book is a collection of ten essays by prominent scholars, and is beautifully illustrated.
In addition to the essays on Franklin, I also recommend Ben Franklin In Search of a Better World to people interested in the furniture and furnishings of the Federal period. Like myself, Franklin cherished his home and furnishings, and once wrote to his sister,
[It] “fills me with humble Thankfulness to the divine Being who has graciously conducted my Steps, and prospered me in this strange Land to a degree that I could not rationally have expected, and can by no means conceive my self to have merited. I beg the Continuance of his Favour but to submit to his Will[,] should a Reverse be determin’d.”
An extraordinary man in extraordinary times, and a man from whom we can learn and learn to love.
Remember to visit the Christmas store. Recent additions: Isaacson’s book, and Omaha Steaks. I ordered both as gifts – to the same household; after all Ben liked his food, too.
It’s Sunday, and Dr. Sanity has the Carnival: