Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Benjamin Franklin: Blogger

If Benjamin Franklin was alive today, he most certainly would be a Blogger. Just finished reading the autobiography of Franklin by Walter Isaacson. He was an amazing figure, and had all the makings of a true blogger. He was an opinionated individual with a penchant for publishing. His politics were firmly against the elite establishment. As a printer he believed strongly in a free press. He often wrote under anonymous names, was fond of publishing satire and hoaxes. His roots were that of a populist and a common man who was most proud of being an Artisan and a Printer (I can relate). His philosophy, writing style and politics were often snubbed by many as being common and lacking intellectualism. His biographer at one point even described Franklin as being 'Geeky' in his obsessive attention to detail in many of his writings, which could range from designing a ship's hull, to descriptions of how to reduce the odor of farts (really!). Check out this editorial, Apology For Printers. The writing style of a true Blogger... for sure.

While on the topic, I have to give credit to BF's other contributions to civilization. This was one great man.
Scientist and inventor- He was a practical scientist, not a great mathematician or theorist. Yet his scientific work with electricity was renowned and resulted in practical inventions that tamed the destructive force of lightning (lightning rods). He also invented bifocal lenses, and the Franklin Stove.
Philanthropist and Public Servant- Franklin started or contributed to many great civic institutions. He founded the University of Pennsylvania, hospitals, fire departments, libraries and post-offices. He served two terms as 'President' of Pennsylvania after being nominated by both political factions and nearly unanimously elected into that office. Franklin edited Jefferson's wording on the Declaration of Independence to read 'We hold these truths to be self-evident...', rather than the original text that had religious overtones. As a member of the Constitutional Congress, Franklin's compromise of two houses (senate with equal representation and House of Reps with varied representation based on population) broke a stalemate between large and small states that threatened to break up the convention.
Diplomat - Ben Franklin was among this countries greatest diplomats, negotiating the peace with England and treaties with France and Spain. He tried desperately to avoid war with England, by fighting for American self rule and independence from the British parliament while remaining loyal to the King. It was only after being publicly vilified by the British government as a traitor that he favored the revolution. He forged an alliance with France, without which we may have not won the Revolutionary War. As a diplomat he had the star-power of Henry Kissinger, and the admiration of leaders throughout the world. One of his famous quotes is 'there is no good war and no bad peace'.

No comments: