Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

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Declaration of Independence Part 6

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston MA on January 17, 1706.  His Puritan parents lived modestly on their income as soap-boilers and tallow-chandlers.  They wanted their children to be educated, and hoped young Ben would perhaps become a minister.  However, their slender means were not sufficient, so the children turned to learning trades.  Not wanting to continue in his father's trade, Ben was sent to learn the cutlery trade, but the fee for apprenticeship was too high.  Ben's older brother was a printer and provided him with the training he needed to make a living for himself.  Here is a brief look at Ben Franklin's formative years as a businessman and philanthropist. 

By age 17, Franklin struck out on his own arriving in Philadelphia with $1 in his pocket.  His skills were recognized by printing establishments and, along with his industry and studious habits of never being far from his books, Franklin became a successful businessman, as well as a highly regarded citizen of Philadelphia.  During his 20s and 30s, Franklin published popular essays along with his annual "Poor Richard's Almanac," which was widely circulated in the Colonies and England, and translated into major European languages for over 20 years.  His book collection became the nucleus for the Philadelphia Library.  At 30, he was appointed Clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  By his mid-30s, he created the American Philosophical Society which organized public good by paving streets, lighting the city with gas, promoting the University of Pennsylvania and its Hospital.  We would do well to reflect on one of Franklin's many sage quotes:  "I am for doing good to the poor, but I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty...the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer..." 

Franklin Anticipates the Declaration of Independence 

In 1754, Franklin was a Pennsylvania delegate to a Convention of the Colonies which met in Albany NY on "the defense and security against the French" where Franklin proposed having the colonies unite as one country.  It's interesting to note he advanced the concept of the United States 22 years before the Declaration of Independence became a reality. 

 Join us for the next Constitution Corner installment on your WOW web site, September 8, 2017