Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Benjamin Franklin: "Join, or Die"

Benjamin Franklin had an extraordinary resume. He was an ambassador, diplomat, publisher, author, editor, inventor, scientist, and patriot.

Benjamin Franklin was the only Founding Father who signed all four of the major documents that helped build the United States including the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris (which formally ended the Revolutionary War), and the United States Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin was also a man of many firsts. He created the first American political cartoon ("Join, or Die"). He created the first American hospital. He initiated the first American library. He began the first American volunteer Firefighter department. He started the first series of interracial schools of trade for youngsters. He was one of our first Postmasters. And he organized the first American militia.

As a scientist and inventor, Benjamin Franklin made many achievements. He discovered that lightning was electrical. Franklin invented the bifocals, the first iron furnace stove, the odometer, and the lightning rod (which protected buildings and ships from lightning damage).

Also, Benjamin Franklin was an "editor" of the Declaration of Independence. He was the head of the Abolition Society. And he raised money for the first synagogue in Philadelphia.

Above: "Join, or Die" was a political cartoon created by Benjamin Franklin. It was first published in his PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE on May 9, 1754.

There are several well known sayings attributed to Benjamin Franklin including "a penny saved is a penny earned," "remember that time is money," and "early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Although my favorite being, after signing the Declaration of Independence, Franklin stated: "We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately." There’s also: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

As I wrote earlier, the majority of our Founding Fathers were not deists, as many secular historians would like you to believe. Benjamin Franklin was a church member. He believed in the power of prayer. He believed in God’s divine providence and intervention in the affairs of men (see quote below). Franklin was raised as a Puritan. When he moved to Philadelphia, he joined the Presbyterian Church. But, by today’s standards, Benjamin Franklin would probably be thought of as a Unitarian.

-Benjamin Franklin’s Constitutional Convention Address on Prayer (June 28, 1787, Philadelphia, PA):

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-- that God governs in the affairs of men. And 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: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

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