Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Franklin’

Benjamin Franklin’s 305th Birthday

This coming Monday is the holiday where we observe the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I encourage one and all to celebrate the life of Dr. King and put in some volunteer service time.

But, Monday is also the birthday of another great American leader, Benjamin Franklin, who was born in Boston on January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705].  Come learn more about this Son of Boston on a Boston By Foot tour lead by knowledgeable Boston By Foot guides (including yours truly).  The tour visits sites associated with Ben Franklin’s life in Boston from his birth in a house on Milk Street until the age of 17 when he ran away from his home town after a falling-out with his older brother.  This tour is unique in that since Franklin spent much of his long life elsewhere – Philadelphia, London, and Paris for starters – the sites often offer a launch point for talking about Franklin’s varied careers in printing, science, invention, postal services, public service and as a founding father.

The tour meets in the public park at the corner of Washington and School Streets by the Irish Famine Memorial and Borders Book Store.  The cost is $15 per person ($5 for Boston By Foot members) and the 90-minute walking tour departs at 2 pm on Monday, January 17th, 2011.  More information is available on the Boston By Foot Meetup Group web page.

Click photo to see more images of sites visited on this tour.

Official tour description:

Celebrate and learn the life of Benjamin Franklin by walking among the sites of his homes and haunts in Colonial Boston. In his day, Benjamin Franklin was America’s greatest scientist, inventor, diplomat, humorist, statesman, and entrepreneur. Ben was born in Boston, came of age in Philadelphia, and was the darling of Paris. From his many inventions, creation of civic, philanthropic, and educational institutions, to his his roles in the founding of America, his legacy is immeasurable.

Book Review: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Author: Walter Isaacson
Title: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Publication Info:  RecordedBooks (2003), Audio CD
ISBN: 1402592957

Summary/Review:  I’ve been learning more about this early American leader for my BBF walking tour and I find him increasingly fascinating the more I learn about him.  Isaacson writes a lively narrative with a good balance between historical accuracy and popular history as well as warts & all without sensationalism.

I won’t go into a detailed summary of the book but here are a few elements that stand out for me:

  • Isaacson goes beyond simple biographical details and makes a good attempt at an intellectual history of Franklin, especially in the earlier parts of the book.
  • Franklin, for all his virtues, was not above getting dirty in politics.  It’s interesting to compare to the recent book I read about Aaron Burr and how differently their posthumous reputations have been adjudged when they were both very much men of their times.  Then there’s the  idolatrous manner in which the Founding Fathers are revered in comparison to today’s “corrupt politicians” which just isn’t realistic.
  • Franklin had an interesting habit of forming a surrogate family around him when he was away from home for extended periods, acting in an avuncular role for bright young women and his own grandsons.  Yet he was often distant from his own children and spent many, many years separated from his wife.
  • Another interesting contrast:  Franklin has been called “the first American” and famously wore frontier-style clothing when visiting the French court, yet he seemed to jump at any opportunity to go to Europe and lived abroad in London and Paris for extended portions of his life.

All in all this is a great introduction to a fascinating and hard to understand man.

Recommended books: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
Rating: ****

Links of the Day for 17 January 2008

This morning I fell back to sleep and had one of those dreams where I got up and got ready for work.  I should have figured out it was a dream when I gathered up all my clothing and headed out to catch the T.  Once I boarded I took a shower on board the trolley in a public shower which replaced the booth for the conductor/door guard.  That was a definite clue that I was not really awake and going to work, because I never take the trolley!  Sounds like a good idea though to have showers on public transit.  Imagine the efficiency for those of us who are always running late to work!

Anyhow, it was one of those days, so here are some links:

  • For kids: Watch it – this art is on the move! by Sue Wunder (Christian Science Monitor, 1/8/08) – I experienced the Clouds exhibition at Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art.  There were a bunch of school kids playing with the clouds and it would have made a great photo, but photography was prohibited and I’m a flagrant rule follower.  It just occurred to me that visit to the art museum will be 10 years ago on January 22nd.  Man am I old!
  • The Secret History of the Revolving Door by J Morrison (nonist, 1/10/08) – an amusing if perhaps factually challenged history to be sure.
  • Actual Urban Nature Post by Jef Taylor (The Urban Pantheist, 1/16/08) – talks about the coyote in the North End and has a great quote about where “the wild” is for wild animals.
  • Diagramming the Preamble (1/17/08) in which Mallard Fillmore’s Bathtub teaches a civics lesson by way of English class.  He also reminds us that today is Benjamin  Franklin’s 302nd birthday.
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