Book review: The Real Benjamin Franklin
By Andrew M. Allison and the National Center for Constitutional Studies
Dinner Topics for Monday
“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” ~Benjamin Franklin
At sixteen, he was the youngest printer in America. He often wrote under pen names, making quotations that are powerfully relevant today.
Freedom of speech (this was written under the name of Silence Dogood)
Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know.
This sacred privilege is so essential to free governments that the security of property and the freedom of speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would over throw the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. . .
A renowned scientist and inventor. His kite experiment proved lightning was electricity. Inventions included lightning rod, Franklin stove, bifocals, flexible catheter, daylight savings time.
There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will every now and then peep out and show itself. . .Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. P. 61
I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of Deity, that he made the world and governed it by his providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished and virtue rewarded either her e or hereafter. P.62
He wrote short maxims with the youth in mind.
Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.
Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.
Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
God helps them that help themselves.
Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.
The used key is always bright.
A stitch in time saves nine.
He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.
Franklin taught himself several languages—French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and German—chiefly to enable him to increase his knowledge by reading various important works that had not yet been translated into English. He also learned to play the harp, violin, and the guitar (later he would add an unusual instrument of his own design, the “armonica”).
Franklin served on a committee with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States, for which he suggested a motto that Jefferson later used on his own seal: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” P. 205