Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fascinating Facts About Benjamin Franklin

True, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is on our $100 bill, but contrary to what many people believe, he was never president of the United States. He was far too busy to take on a job like that.

We’ve always been amazed by this man of many talents, and in honor of this weekend’s Independence Day, we wanted to honor his contribution to creating the U.S. Constitution—and so much else. As a scientist, writer, printer, philosopher, musician, politician, and inventor (we’ve probably forgotten a few things),

Franklin did more in a day than many people do in a lifetime. Here are some of our favorite Franklin facts.
He was a high school dropout. Franklin proved that you don’t need a fancy degree to succeed in life—due to family financial problems, he never graduated from high school. (But were he around today, he’d probably have more honorary PhDs than he could shake a stick at.)

He created America’s first library. In 1732, Franklin convinced a group of fellow intellectuals to create a library of their personal books, and then added a subscription service, in which funds would be used to purchase new books for all to read. The Library Company of Philadelphia, as it was called, still exists today, and has over five hundred thousand rare books.

He followed a strict daily schedule. It began with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

He invented the first bifocal glasses, odometer, urinary catheter, lightning rod, and many other devices, yet never filed for a patent. Though any one of Franklin’s inventions could have made him a tremendous fortune, he wasn’t greedy about them.
He believed that his work was for the common good, and “as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously,” he wrote in his autobiography. We bet he’d be a big fan of Creative Commons.

He created a phonetic alphabet. Franklin’s alphabet got rid of six letters he thought were redundant, and added six new letters for other sounds. As you can probably tell, it never caught on.

As a young man, Franklin created a list of thirteen virtues, and worked on obeying them throughout his life.

Here is the list; you may find it helpful too:

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations.

Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.

Industry: Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly.

Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 

Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve.

Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.

Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable.

Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

By Kathryn Hawkins for Gimundo


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