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Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues

As a young adult, Ben Franklin identified 13 virtues he aspired to. To implement these virtues in his life, he devised a “Plan for Self Examination,” an agenda whereby he concentrated his attention, one virtue at a time, for one week at a time, rotating through the entire list four times a year. He kept a detailed log of the actions he took to develop the virtues in himself, along with his personal results.

He traced his development by using a little book of 13 charts. At the top of each chart was one of the virtues. The charts had a column for each day of the week and thirteen rows marked with the first letter of each of the 13 virtues. Every evening he would review the day and put a mark by the side of each virtue for each error committed with respect to that virtue for that day.

Unsurprisingly, his goal was to live his days and weeks without having to put any marks on his chart. At the start he found himself putting more marks on these pages than he ever anticipated, but in time he enjoyed seeing them diminish. Eventually he went through the series only once per year and then only once in several years until ultimately omitting them entirely. But he always carried the little book with him as a reminder.

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and 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: i.e. 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. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

Ben Franklin’s Fable of The Lion And The Dog

Ben Franklin's Fable of The Lion And The Dog

In January 1770, in the London newspaper The Public Advertiser, Benjamin Franklin published a fable about a young lion cub and a large English dog traveling together on a ship.

A lion’s whelp was put on board a Guinea ship bound to America as a present to a friend in that country: it was tame and harmless as a kitten, and therefore not confined, but suffered to walk about the ship at pleasure. A stately, full-grown English mastiff, belonging to the captain, despising the weakness of the young lion, frequently took its food by force, and often turned it out of its lodging box, when he had a mind to repose therein himself The young lion nevertheless grew daily in size and strength, and the voyage being long, he became at last a more equal match for the mastiff; who continuing his insults, received a stunning blow from the lion’s paw that fetched his skin over his ears, and deterred him from any future contest with such growing strength; regretting that he had not rather secured its friendship than provoked its enmity.

'A Benjamin Franklin Reader' by Walter Isaacson (ISBN 0743273982) This is one of the many his articles, letters, hoaxes, and other pieces of political propaganda all aimed at convincing the British colonial powers that its oppressive treatment of the American colonies would sooner or later backfire. Franklin was acting in his capacity as the spokesman in London for several colonies.

Franklin “humbly inscribed” this to Lord Hillsborough, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had become Franklin’s most ardent opponent.

Lord Hillsborough (Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire PC) served as the colonial secretary from 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

Posted in Leaders and Innovators Philosophy and Wisdom

The Comprehensive Benjamin Franklin Timeline

The Benjamin Franklin Timeline

Benjamin Franklin is revered as the truly distinguished American for his way of living. Assiduous, industrious, ingenious, opinionated, involved, entrepreneurial, intelligent, inquisitive, patriotic, and he lived to be old. He was a printer, a politician, an author, writer, and journalist. He was an inventor, a thinker, and a doer. He was an honest and righteous man who zealously wanted these colonies to be free, self-determining, flourishing, and protected.

He was one of the founders of the United States. America was very privileged to have this right man at the right time. He was well loved as a diplomat and he was a manufacturer of ink. This one man could have filled the lives of ten men with achievements and honors. Lastly, he was most mercifully and humanly flawed.

1706 … Born in Boston on January 17 (Jan. 6, 1705, Old Style). One of seventeen children born to his father, Josiah Franklin,and ten to his mother, Abiah Folger.

1714 … Attends Boston Latin School.

1718 … Apprenticed to brother James Franklin, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade.

1722 … Writes Silence Dogood essays in the New-England Courant, his brother James’s newspaper.

1723 … Runs away to Philadelphia.

1724 … Moves to London with the intention to acquire equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia.

1725 … Wrote pamphlet “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” and, in it, rejected Christian dogma. Later regarded this pamphlet as an embarrassment.

1726 … Returns to Philadelphia.

1728 … Opens his own print shop.

1729 … Writes the “Busy-Body” series essays. Buys Pennsylvania Gazette.

1730 … Enters common-law marriage with Deborah Read. Son William born.

1731 … Founds Library Company of Philadelphia.

1732 … Son Francis born. Launches Poor Richard’s Almanac.

1733 … Moral Perfection Project that consists of twelve guidelines to help make himself morally perfect

1735 … Controversy over preacher Samuel Hemphill.

1736 … Clerk of Pennsylvania Assembly. Son Francis dies. Forms Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America.

1737 … Made Philadelphia postmaster.

1741 … Launches General Magazine, which fails. Designs Franklin stove.

1743 … Daughter Sarah (“Sally”) born. Launches American Philosophical Society.

1745 … Collinson sends electricity pamphlets and glass tube.

'A Benjamin Franklin Reader' by Walter Isaacson (ISBN 0743273982) 1746 … Summer of electricity experiments.

1747 … Writes “Plain Truth.” Organizes militia.

1748 … Retires from printing business.

1749 … Writes proposal for the Academy (University of Pennsylvania).

1751 … Electricity writings published in London. Elected to Pennsylvania Assembly.

1752 … Kite and lightning experiment.

1753 … Becomes joint postmaster for America.

1754 … French and Indian War begins. Proposes Albany Plan of Union to create a unified government for the Thirteen Colonies.

1757 … Leaves for London as agent. Writes “Way to Wealth” and last Poor Richard’s Almanac. Moves in with Mrs. Stevenson on Craven Street in London.

1758 … Visits Ecton to research ancestry with son William.

1761 … Travels to Flanders and Holland with son William.

1762 … Returns to Philadelphia. Son William made royal governor of N.J., marries.

1763 … Postal inspection trip from Virginia to New England. French and Indian War ends.

1764 … Paxton Boys crisis. Defeated in bitter Assembly election. Returns to London as agent.

1765 … Stamp Act passes.

1766 … Testifies in Parliament against Stamp Act, which is repealed.

1767 … Townshend duties imposed. Travels to France.

1768 … Wages press crusade in London on behalf of the colonies.

1769 … Second visit to France.

1770 … Townshend duties repealed except on tea. Made agent for Massachusetts.

1771 … Begins Autobiography. Visits Ireland and Scotland.

1773 … Writes parodies “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Smaller One” and “Edict of the King of Prussia.” Boston Tea Party.

1775 … Returns to Philadelphia. Battles of Lexington and Concord. Elected to Second Continental Congress. Proposes first Articles of Confederation.

1776 … William removed as royal governor, imprisoned in Connecticut. Declaration of Independence. Goes to France with Temple and Benny.

1777 … Settles in Passy, feted throughout Paris.

1778 … Treaties of alliance and commerce with France.

1779 … Salons of Madames Brillon and Helvetius. John Paul Jones’s Bonhomme Richard defeats the Serapis.

1781 … Appointed (with Adams and others) to negotiate, in Paris, peace with Britain.

1785 … Last meeting with son William. Returns to Philadelphia.

1787 … Constitutional Convention. Elected president of Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

1790 … Dies on April 17 at age 84.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

Posted in Leaders and Innovators