"Though I never arrived at perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it." -- Ben Franklin
As a native Pennsylvanian, I have always admired Ben Franklin but more from a distance than close up and personal. But when my friends, Dave and Linda Maracle, recently gave me James C. Humes' The Wit and Wisdom of Ben Franklin (1995), I knew it was time to learn more about our "most quoted American."
Although Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston, at age 17 he moved to Philadelphia. And though he lived temporarily in other places including overseas, he will always be considered as one of our greatest Pennsylvanians.
Humes' book highlights "the incredible range of Franklin's creativity and genius." There one can learn of his "down-home Americanism" in sections titled "Franklin Firsts" and "Inventions, Ideas and Discoveries" and "Renaissance Roles." Many of Franklin's "Sage Sayings" and "Anecdotes and Adventures" keep circulating through each generation.
I would certainly commend Humes' book to you, but for today I would like to share a few highlights of this amazing American which stood out to me. Here are a few of his great quotes:
When Franklin arrived in Philadelphia in 1723, the newly emerging city was a welcomed place for a new kind of thinker. With the birth of the Age of Enlightenment, he brought into that fertile soil "the natural optimism of youth, he also brought a curious nature and inventive mind."
In Humes' words, "Mr. Franklin was a 'Mr. Fix-It.' He was the right man, in the right place, at the right time." Here are a few "Franklin Firsts."
The list of "Franklin Firsts" could go on and on. From franchising to indoor plumping and from political cartoons to windsurfing, the influence of this remarkable Pennsylvanian continues to this day. What an amazing man indeed!
Think about it.
This column previously appeared in The Phoenix.