Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ben Franklin

Tuesday was Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday, and there was a special on the History Channel about him. My favorite part was when they talked about how Franklin and John Adams were sent to France to gain support for French help in the Revolutionary War. (The French saved us, France haters. We wouldn't exist in our present form if it weren't for the French.)

Anyway, Ben and John were opposites. So much so that the way they described it, it sounded like a 1970s sitcom. There's John who comes into the office at 8 a.m. and wants to work hard. Then there's Ben who stays up all night with his French mistreses and hanging out with his new buddes in the salon, gets to the office late and yet gets more work done than John because he's been making nice with the people whose support they need. John feels slighted. Then they come back to America and work together to build the country.

Franklin was such an interesting person. He didn't patent the lightning rod or many others of his inventions because he felt he had enough money and did not want to profit. Ben just wanted his inventions to help people. He was a business man until he turned 42, and then quit because he thought he had enough money and wanted to do more with his life.

Franklin was amazing, but at the same time, he was human. He neglected his wife, who he did not see for the last seven years of her life. He had little to do with his daughter. He was closest to his illegitimate son, but their relationship broke apart because his son supported England and Ben was a revolutionary.

They made the point in the show that Franklin is a more accessible historical figure than Adams or Jefferson or Washington. His figure is more human. We view the others as huge granite statues that we go see, but Franklin had such a vibrant personality that it is almost as if he is still alive. While the other three are buried in huge tombs, Frankin's gravesite is viewable from the street in Philadelphia and people throw pennies on it for good luck.

It's too bad someone can't use a time machine to bring here to 2006. He'd be disappointed, say what he thinks and then branded as unpatriotic by the simple-minded ones in today's society.


Blogger Daniel said...

John Adams was no slouch over in France. It's to both these guys credit that they got along so well.

10:47 AM  

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