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Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues.

1. TEMPERANCE.  Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE.           Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER.              Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION.   Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY.      Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY.        Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY.       Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE.           Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. MODERATION. -  Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS. - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11.TRANQUILLITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

It may be well my posterity should be informed that to this little artifice,
with the blessing of God, their ancestor ow'd the constant felicity of his life,
down to his 79th year, in which this is written.
What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence;
but, if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoy'd ought to help his
bearing them with more resignation.
To Temperance he ascribes his long-continued health,
and what is still left to him of a good constitution;
to Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of his fortune,
with all that knowledge that enabled him to be a useful citizen,
and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned;
to Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his country,
and the honorable employs it conferred upon him;
and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues,
even in the imperfect state he was able to acquire them,
all that evenness of temper, and that cheerfulness in conversation, which makes his company still sought for, and agreeable even to his younger acquaintance.
I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.

         In this piece it was my design to have endeavored to convince young persons that no qualities were so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.

        My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list).

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.
[Thus far written at Passy, 1741]

Benjamin Franklin Jan. 17th, 1706 ~ 1790

Engraving of Benjamin Franklin, American Philosopher, Author and Scientist
Engraving of Benjamin Franklin, American Philosopher, Author and Scientist

Printer, writer, scientist, statesman; born in Boston, Mass. The 15th child in his family, he went to work at age ten in his father's chandlery, then in a brother's printing house.

        Discovered electricity, invented the fuel-efficient Franklin Stove, and authored the still popular Poor Richard's Almanac with sayings espousing industry, frugality, and other homely virtues. A little bit of the Almanac. The Almanac attracted a large readership and made Franklin's name a household word. He also offered wise leadership as a member of the continental Congress and ambassador to France during a young land's tumultuous drive toward freedom.

       Ambitious and intent on self-improvement, he became a skilled printer while reading widely and developing a writing style. In 1723, at age 17, he left for Philadelphia; starting with no capital, he advanced rapidly and, after a brief stint as a printer in London, had by 1730 become sole owner of a business that included the Pennsylvania Gazette.

       He founded a discussion group called the Junta (1727) that evolved into the American Philosophical Association and helped establish the first U.S. lending library (1731), as well as an academy (1751) that evolved into the University of Pennsylvania.

He served as a city deputy postmaster (1737--53); subsequently, as joint deputy postmaster for the colonies (1753--74), he improved postal efficiency and made the postal service solvent. In 1748, his business having expanded and flourished, Franklin retired, turning it over to his foreman in return for a regular stipend, thus gaining more time for scientific pursuits.

He conducted a series of experiments, described in his Experiments and Observations on Electricity (1751--53), which brought him international recognition as a scientist. In 1752 he conducted his famous kite experiment, demonstrating that lightning is an electrical discharge, and he announced his invention of the lightning rod. A later invention for which Franklin is well-known was the bifocal lens (1760).

Later in 1754, Franklin represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress, called in response to the French and Indian Wars. From 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775, he pursued diplomatic activities in England, obtaining permission for Pennsylvania to tax the estates of its proprietors, securing repeal of the Stamp Act, and representing the interests of several colonies. He associated with eminent Britons and wrote political satires and pamphlets on public affairs. In 1776 he went to France to help negotiate treaties of commerce and alliance, signed in 1778. Lionized there, he remained as plenipotentiary, won financial aid for the American Revolution, and then helped negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain, signed in Paris in 1783. Returning to the U.S.A. in 1785, he was a conciliating presence at the Constitutional Convention (1787).

"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."... Franklin letter to Josiah Quincy 1773

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ...Ben Franklin

In his last years he corresponded widely, received many visitors,
and invented a device for lifting books from high shelves.
His posthumously published Autobiography,
written for his son William Franklin, became a
classic and reprints are available.
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

"Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy."
...Ben Franklin

Reminding us of the humorous, irreverent side of this American icon, these essays endure
as both hilarious satire and a timely reminder of the importance of a free press.
Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School

other suggested reading
Forgotten Founders by Bruce E. Johansen, July 1981
This complete online book concerns the relationship between
Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the American Revolution.
For people interested in this subject but not feeling they have the time to read the entire book.
please see all of the Introduction and Afterword, as well as excerpts from Chapters 1 through 6

. "Beauty and folly are old companions."...Ben Franklin ~


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