On this day in 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin was born. Franklin was, and still remains as one of our nation’s most notable and foundational figures who contributed to the successes of America while it was in its infancy. He was a renaissance man; an inventor who sought solutions to many problems, and chased great ideas all throughout his lifetime. Today is his 314th birthday, and as a tribute, Government Publications wanted to share a small offering of resources that reflect his own work, and talks about the man himself.
The Government Publishing Office (GPO), has used Ben’s likeness for quite some time in the form of “Ben’s Guides”. Found here, it’s a resource available to anyone, and it’s a great place to learn or refresh your memory of facts relating to the United States Government, with Franklin as your personal guide. Suitable for ages of all kind, Ben’s Guide makes for an eye-catching, and interactive resource for classrooms and personal use.
If a biography is what you’re looking for, Life of Franklin is another great resource to pour over for information about the personal life of the Founding Father.
One more fabulous resource is Poor Richard’s Almanack, written by Franklin himself. Gov. Pub’s very own Benjamin has his own words to share on this publication!
Ben Franklin’s Literary Legacy
Written by Benjamin Clanton, Government Publications
Benjamin Franklin, along with other historical giants such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, is often considered one of our nation’s more important Founding Fathers. Franklin proved to truly be a man of many talents: a scientist, a businessman, a statesman, and a prolific writer. Franklin clearly possessed a love of the written word throughout his life, as he reached prominence in colonial Philadelphia as the owner of a print shop. His Autobiography is still read widely today and provides a glimpse at the growth of the colonies that would eventually become the United States. Perhaps the most entertaining and widely debated of his works is his Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he produced regularly from 1732 to 1758. Almanacs of that time, which contained such things as weather predictions, advice, and puzzles, were extremely popular in the 18th century colonial world, and Franklin’s entrant into this highly competitive field quickly became a best seller. Franklin used it to create the character of “Poor” Richard Saunders to speak for him, something he often did when talking about such topics as politics, science, or economics. The affable Poor Richard provided popular maxims in each year’s almanac, many of which are still known in our modern world. Perhaps the most famous is a longtime favorite of the productive minded over the past two centuries: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, happy, and wise.” My personal favorite is a clear warning against greed and materialism: “If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.” Other sayings cover themes such as how to be frugal monetarily, how to relate to other people, and how to live a fulfilling and happy life in general. Many of these Poor Richard’s maxims were borrowed from other people and times, as Franklin readily admits, but they certainly contained his unmistakable, and underrated, wit. Though the Almanack has had its fair share of critics over time, mainly from those that see it as unsophisticated and obsessed with the making of money, Franklin himself outlines the goal of the pamphlet: “I endeavour’d to make it both entertaining and useful . . . I consider’d it as a proper Vehicle for conveying Instruction among the common people.” I would argue that he met this goal and then some, producing an invaluable historical document that provides a slice of life look at Colonial America.