Literary Corner Cafe

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Benjamin Franklin!

Happy Birthday, Benjamin Franklin!

Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father of the United States, but he was an author as well, and he was born on Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706. (Older calendars give his birth date as January 6th.)

Benjamin Franklin was formally educated only to the age of ten, but he learned about printing, publishing, and writing from his older brother, James, who published the New England Courant, to which Benjamin became a contributor.

Later, he became an extremely wealthy man by writing Poor Richard's Almanack, under the name, Richard Saunders, and by publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette. Not all of the content of Poor Richard's Almanack was original. Franklin "borrowed" much of it, something not everyone is aware of. In 1758, Franklin stopped writing his almanac, but that year saw the publication of Father Abraham's Sermon, now highly regarded as the most famous piece of literature published in Colonial America.

Franklin began writing his autobiography in England in 1771, an autobiography that saw many adventures and was finally published after his death in its original form by John Bigelow. Franklin's autobiography is one of the greatest autobiographies, not only of its own time, but ever written.

Franklin, who loved both politics and technology, wrote extensively about these subjects. He wrote many speeches for the Constitutional Convention, papers on science and economics, including one titled, A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency, as well as writing about education, philosophy, and religion.

In 1773, Franklin published two essays: Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, and An Edict by the King of Prussia. While very satirical, these essays were also very, very pro-American, as Franklin was one of the most pro-American men who ever lived.

Benjamin Franklin did not believe in slavery and he published numerous articles decrying its existence. Two of the most famous are: An Address to the Public, which was published in 1789 and A Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks, which was also published in 1789.

Most of Benjamin Franklin's writings, which are far too numerous to list here, in a simple blog, can be found online.

Our country, and indeed, our very lives, would be far less rich had it not been for Benjamin Franklin.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin Franklin! The United States is proud of you and will treasure you always.

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