It was ironic.
Saturday morning a few months ago, and I was sitting down, in the Highland Beach, FL, Public Library. I’m reading Ben Franklin’s Autobiography.
At the time I did not know this. Ben Franklin created the first Public Library in North America 281 years ago.
I laughed quietly, just for a moment. “Thanks Ben,” I said to myself as I looked around this beautiful library. I took a sip of my fresh coffee, smiled, and continued to read Ben’s book.
Ben described his thirst for reading at a young age, and his pursuit to read more. Books, in the American colonies during the first half of the 18th century, were scarce. And if available, very expensive. Ben would barter books from established men affiliated with his brother’s print shop, while he was an apprentice.
During his teens and twenties, Ben was conscious of his time, and actions. He avoided excessive nightlife, gaming, and strong drink, which lead to the demise of many of his friends, according to his autobiography. Moderation and self-control were a steadiness in his life. He dedicated most of his time on weekends to study; reading and writing.
In his early twenties, Ben started a mastermind group, called the Junto, in Philadelphia. The Junto is described as, “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” This group would have open discussions about philosophy, politics, business, trades, etc. They also shared books, discussed their perspective of each book, and developed and grew as individuals.
In 1731, Franklin created the first public subscription library with the help of his Junto group. Using their own books and a pool of funds within the group, the library was created.
Ben was very proud of this accomplishment in his autobiography, stating, “The libraries have improved the general conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges.”
The Power of Reading.
Ben Franklin also created the first structured fire department in the colonies. He was the major proponent for the development of the first hospital in the colonies. He was master communicator, advisor, and mentor. He was also a provoking writer, publicist, and marketer. He ran a successful business and retired at the age of 42, to pursue public affairs. He was philosopher, philanthropist, politician, inventor, and scientist.
I’m going to take an calculated risk and say we can learn something from him. Maybe….
Here are Ben’s 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; that is, waste nothing.
6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employed 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 extremes; forbear resenting injuries, much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in the body, cloths, or habitation.
11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Humility – Act as Jesus and Socrates would.
You can get Ben’s autobiography here – Ben Franklin’s Story – in his own words from his own pen.
It’s absolutely worth the read. Enjoy.
The Time Is Now.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,
With an introduction by Andrew S. Trees,
Barnes and Noble Essential Reading Publishing