1/11/2006

Ben Franklin at 300

Well done is better than well said. Ben Franklin

Franklin Forum on Innovation: Inside the Art and Craft of Innovation at Knowledge Wharton

Ben Franklin at the Rosenbach
Mr. Benjamin Franklin
Pennsylvania History

John F. Kennedy said during his brief 1000 days, when presenting a dinner group at the White House of the greatest intellectuals in the nation, I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thimas Jefferson dined alone. He could have as easily said Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706 and would be 300 years old this year...let the party begin.

There are number of ways to get to know the practical genius of Ben Franklin tied to this 300th anniversary celebration. Here are a few to consider.

The Pew Charitable Trusts have given $4 million...that's right...to get the party going. Their exhibit, Benjamin Franklin - In Search of a Better World, will appear in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston, Denver, Atlanta and Paris. In Philly, see it at the National Constitution Center. And don't forget to visit Franklin's legacy at The Franklin Institute.

[Information in the above parchment used with Permission of The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary.]

A quick way to get an idea of the genius of Ben Franklin is to visit Franklin Court and Underground Museum between 4th and 3rd and Market and Chestnut Streets two blocks away from Independence Hall toward the Delaware River in Philadelphia's historic district. It shows a frame of where his house once stood and exhibits of his post office, printing press and in the underground museum, you can view a wonderful timeline of his inventions...the indoor toilet, bifocals, iron furnace stove, divers flippers, broadside printing press, flexible urinary catheter, lightning rod, the fire fighting company, fire inurance, odometer...the list is almost endless.

The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT is hosting an exhibit called Ben Franklin's Curious Mind. It explores Franklin's prodigious life with hands-on interactive displays in three areas: Power of the Press, Engineering Solutions, and For the Greater Good.

While there, visit the Seaside Center, a beachside museum about the ecology of Long Island Sound.

Other websites worth looking at for Ben Franklin events include:
  • Independence Visitor Center - A huge visitor's center next to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall with "information, history and adventure"
  • GoPhila What to do, where to stay and eat in the city and surrounding area
  • The Franklin Institute - Ben's birthday events at The Franklin Institute.
  • The Electric Ben Franklin - A storehouse of Franklin information, including a links page with everything from Ben's verse to his ideas of natural rights and federalism from his dealings with and printing treaties that had been negotiated with the Iroquois

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you read the McCullough book on John Adams? He painted Franklin in a rather unflattering light. Any opinion?

poetslife said...

No...I did not read McCullough's book on John Adams. I did read his books Truman and The Johnstown Flood and consider him a great historian.

He is not the first or last to portray Franklin in an unflattering light. Many of the minor historians who rule at the universities today make an industry of attacking the Founding Fathers, including Franklin, and insist on the same party line from their students.

But even a great historidan like McCullough can err. For example, he may give credit for the Writs of Assistance to Adams, where it belongs to James Otis.

Or he may give Adams credit for "no taxation without representation" when the Irish had been demanding that from the British for 30 years before he brought it up.

Again...as I have not read McCullough's book, I have no way of knowing.

I would refer you to William H. Hallahan's book, "The Day the American Revolution Began." These are his unflattering words about John Adams, not mine.

"He was pompous. Stiff. Irratable. Given to yourthful moralizing and scoulding. At least he had finally found a guiding light: ambition."

"John Adams had a very prickly disposition that grew spikier as he aged. His harsh judgement of himself never mellowed, and his assessments of others were often vicious."

"Did a fat, sententious lawyer from Braintree, Massachusettes named John Adams have anything in common with a wealthy, slave-holding plantation owner from Virginia named George Washington? Yes, he did..."

Hallahan also acknowledges Adams many strengths, the most important of which he says was his ability to get the Founding Fathers to compromise and found the Republic before it shattered and was absorbed by the European powers.

You get the idea. Historians differ in their views and opinions, like everyone, even the German historians with their supposed "scientific" historical tradition. The important thing is to present the whole person, which the "revisionist" historians who currently have a stanglehold on the best universities currently do not.

BTW...Hallahan posits in his book that John's hothead cousin Sam fired the first shot "heard round the world" at Lexington to get the American Revolution started. Interesting theory...

As for me, I greatly admire John Adams relationship with Abigail, so much so that I wrote this poem about them, while I have never written one about Franklin. Hmmm....

Marital Devotion

What more is there to know
of love and marital devotion,
and service to America
than to read the letters
of Abigail and John Adams.

And what America can there be
if the love and marital devotion
of Abigail and John Adams
had not rocked the world
with silence, fortitude and grace?

So, yes, I guess I do have an opinon.