Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers. What’s the big deal with Ben, though, weren’t there like 7 of the big ones? Sure, they were all cool guys. You gotta be to have your face put on paper money, but we’re talking about $100 BIG BEN! We’re talking about the handsome balding guy on the face of the biggest bill that the Federal Reserve currently produces!
So let’s talk about him.
As you might already know, Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents. Each one of those talents and what he did with them contributed to his transformation from a poor, uneducated nobody to a celebrity of American history. Think Eminem but like...less cuss words and more humility.
Ben got his start as a writer, yeah, but do you know how widespread his writing was? He and his business partner Hugh Meredith bought the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729, and just a few years later it was the biggest newspaper in the 13 Colonies! This was a man whose famous name was created by putting ideas from his own mind to paper and sticking to his guns over them. He found himself through his written word. Franklin was the first to stress the importance of uniting all of the colonies together. He even made a pretty cool “cartoon” about it.
No Tom and Jerry but it gets its point across. Franklin developed his high morals and gutsy beliefs through writing them all out and sorting through the details to find his truth. Then he lived it, AND published it!
Once Ben got his hands on a printing press it was game over for Great Britain. Sure, he may not have publicly disparaged the Crown in his printed pieces, but you know for sure they encouraged the colonists to have a mind of their own. This was what was so sly about Franklin. He really did have a way to not only make people think like him, but to not even realize that they were thinking what he wanted them to think all along. At least we think they thought that.
Either way, Benjamin Franklin the Founder used his publishing for good. He created jobs for his fellow colonists, a source for them to get news and reading material, and a network through which he could feed American Patriotism. Maybe not at first, but we have a hard time believing Old Ben didn’t have the intuition to know what was coming.
So that’s how Ben made his fortune, and then he retired at 42.
Let's repeat that. In 1748, nearly 275 years ago, Benjamin Franklin stopped working halfway through his life in the American Colonies and retired. And then soon after helped to bring about the planning, execution, and development of an entirely new COUNTRY….
So after he retired, Ben didn’t stop trying to make the 13 Colonies a better place to be. He leaned into his passions, namely: Science. Bifocals were created, electricity was proved, even a more efficient stove was invented, all by the man himself. (By the way, he named his stove the Franklin stove...Seriously, he was famous enough to put his name in front of a kitchen appliance. Take that, GE.)
Ben even became the most famous American in Europe for his little stunt with the lightning kite. Now as controversial as the connection between electricity and its creator is, one thing we can say with a small exaggeration is that Benjamin Franklin proved electricity by catching lightning in a jar, and that is pretty freaking awesome.
All of these combined accomplishments eventually led to a better prepared (as far as extremely poor and uneducated farmers go) group of Colonists. And when things started to escalate with Great Britain, Ben was the first one to step up and serve as the Colonies’ ambassador. On and off from 1757-1775 he served as the mouthpiece for the Pennsylvania Assembly, which was full of other more highly educated and richer men than him, as the defender of what would become the United States of America against the Tyrant King himself!
He was their lobbyist for taxation issues and trading rights. Ben was the Founding Father sent to France in 1783 to represent the Colonies in the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War in their favor. Beyond that he was the ONLY Founding Father who signed all three of those incredible documents that freed the Colonies from Great Britain: The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States of America.
When it comes down to deciding what really made Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Father, into the hero and big deal he is today, we can pretty much forget about all of the big things. Say he didn’t improve our lives through scientific discoveries, or spend a quarter of his life in London arguing with powdered wigs. Say he didn’t even go to the Treaty of Paris but sat home eating cookies from a tin and sent a pigeon instead.
Even if we forget about all the big things he did that most of us will never get the chance to do in our lifetimes, the way that Benjamin Franklin lived his life really was the quintessential idea of the American Dream. You know, before the American Dream was ever dreamed. He lived with the knowledge that he was “endowed by [his] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Not only did he live it, but he believed it, and his actions toward his fellow man showed that. Benjamin Franklin’s courage, brilliance, and selfless nature set him apart as a Founding Father, but we’re willing to bet it had a pretty deep impact on his business ventures as well. Invest in yourself and at the same time, keep a reminder in your pocket to always be like Ben.