The Lady Speaks

Happy Birthday Ben Franklin!

Picture from Famous Philadelphians at

Today is the 301st anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth.

He didn’t become a supporter of the cause for independence until 1765 and the Thomas Hutchinson Affair – the governor of Massachusetts pretended to be a supporter of the American people, but instead still worked for the King. Franklin sent home copies of letters written by Hutchinson, wherein “Hutchinson called for, ‘an abridgment of what are called English Liberties.'”

One of Franklin’s quotes is much repeated today: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”


Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. He was the tenth son of soap maker, Josiah Franklin. Benjamin’s mother was Abiah Folger, the second wife of Josiah. In all, Josiah would father 17 children.


When Benjamin was 15 his brother started The New England Courant the first “newspaper” in Boston. Though there were two papers in the city before James’s Courant, they only reprinted news from abroad. James’s paper carried articles, opinion pieces written by James’s friends, advertisements, and news of ship schedules.

Benjamin wanted to write for the paper too, but he knew that James would never let him. After all, Benjamin was just a lowly apprentice. So Ben began writing letters at night and signing them with the name of a fictional widow, Silence Dogood. Dogood was filled with advice and very critical of the world around her, particularly concerning the issue of how women were treated. Ben would sneak the letters under the print shop door at night so no one knew who was writing the pieces. They were a smash hit, and everyone wanted to know who was the real “Silence Dogood.”


Franklin continued his civic contributions during the 1730s and 1740s. He helped launch projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia’s streets. He started agitating for environmental clean up. Among the chief accomplishments of Franklin in this era was helping to launch the Library Company in 1731. During this time books were scarce and expensive. Franklin recognized that by pooling together resources, members could afford to buy books from England. Thus was born the nation’s first subscription library. In 1743, he helped to launch the American Philosophical Society, the first learned society in America. Recognizing that the city needed better help in treating the sick, Franklin brought together a group who formed the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751. The Library Company, Philosophical Society, and Pennsylvania Hospital are all in existence today.

Fires were very dangerous threat to Philadelphians, so Franklin set about trying to remedy the situation. In 1736, he organized Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company, the first in the city. His famous saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” was actually fire-fighting advice.


He started working actively for Independence. He naturally thought his son William, now the Royal governor of New Jersey, would agree with his views. William did not. William remained a Loyal Englishman. This caused a rift between father and son which was never healed.

Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of five that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. Though much of the writing is Thomas Jefferson’s, much of the contribution is Franklin’s. In 1776 Franklin signed the Declaration, and afterward sailed to France as an ambassador to the Court of Louis XVI.


Now a man in his late seventies, Franklin returned to America. He became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. One of his last public acts was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.

Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84. 20,000 people attended the funeral of the man who was called, “the harmonious human multitude.”

Picture from The Price of Liberty is Vigilance


January 17, 2007 - Posted by | America, Constitution, Founding Fathers, Government, Inspiration, Pennsylvania, Politics


  1. Have you noticed all the Religious Right Wingers never quote Benjamin Franklin? By the way the Constitution says “Endowed by their Creator” not God. Why? Because Jefferson and Franklin were aware that by not trying to define God, it allowed religious freedom to continue. No church was to be established, promoted, or encouraged. American Citizens had the right to be free of and from formalized religion…Whether it be Protestant, Catholic, Anglican, or even Evangelical.
    Maybe our current Administration should study the document they all swore to protect and defend.

    Comment by Mom | January 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. Maybe our current Administration should study the document they all swore to protect and defend.

    Amen to that.

    Comment by PA_Lady | January 19, 2007 | Reply

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