It’s 1752 on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and pouring hard. Twelve-year-old Jeremy is bored; he’s been left at home with his mother while his older brother goes with their father to the local pub for a pint of ale and the local gossip.
Jeremy reluctantly goes out into the barn to feed the three hens. As he moves to shut the barn door, a flash of lightning illuminates the group of hills just behind the farmhouse. There’s someone trudging to the top of the highest hill. Curious, Jeremy peers into the darkness. Who would be out for a stroll in this kind of weather?
When the next flash comes, Jeremy realizes the man slogging up the hill is Benjamin Franklin, the old politician and businessman. Why is he out there in the rain and lightning? He’s sure to be drenched, and the wind is howling something fierce.
Jeremy watches, fascinated, as Ben crests the hill, stops, and starts to fly a kite. Jeremy can hardly believe what he’s seeing. A kite, in the middle of a thunderstorm! The man must be crazy.
A sudden burst of lightning strikes the kite, and a bolt of white-hot energy sizzles down the line. Jeremy watches, astounded. Old Ben doesn’t seem to be injured. Quite to the contrary: his fists are pumping the air in victory.
Thoroughly perplexed, Jeremy runs back inside to tell his mother that old Benjamin Franklin has finally cracked and lost all his marbles.
For most Americans, Benjamin Franklin is the serene old balding guy sitting in the famous painting of the Constitutional Congress. Franklin’s life, however, was anything but boring. He ran away from home, built himself an economic empire, helped found a country, and played ambassador to several foreign countries—among other things.
Ben Franklin’s life is worth investigating, and his Autobiography is a must-read for anyone remotely interested in history, wisdom, or achieving success. Here’s why:
1. It’s important to remember our history. Most of us have only learned about American history through high school, college, and the occasional History Channel special or National Treasure. But the men who founded America risked the lives of themselves and their families to gain the freedom we enjoy. This book is worth the read, simply for the sake of having a healthy appreciation of our country and its founding fathers.
2. He actually has something to teach. Ben Franklin’s Autobiography might as well have been titled How to Become Wise. While he does outline his life, he has, in reality, written a self-help book. The man helped invent the workings of an entire country, and made full use of its capitalist system. His mantra is “Be diligent and work hard,” and his life is a living demonstration of the results.
3. His life is fascinating. At heart, Benjamin Franklin was an inventor. He was constantly coming up with inventions to help people—little things, such as electricity, the public library, the firefighting system, the public mail service, street sweeping, and the street lamp system (for both Boston and London). That doesn’t include his work in overthrowing a king and setting up a democracy.
So, if you’re looking for an interesting, enlightening and encouraging account of American hard work and innovation, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography might just fit the bill.
Question: Who is your favorite American history hero? Post a comment!