From Humble Beginnings to a Journey of Greatness

In our previous post we discussed Thomas Paine and his impact on the Revolutionary War. If it had not been for a chance meeting with Benjamin Franklin in England, Thomas Paine would never have come to the American Colonies.


Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston. The snippets below demonstrate that this remarkable man was truly a renaissance man of his times.

From humble beginnings as a son of a candle and soap maker on Milk Street in Boston, he was one of 17 children. Early on Benjamin developed an appetite for reading, a leviathan appetite.

His father, Josiah, with encouragement from family and friends believed Benjamin Josiah was destined for the Church. Education in the day was expensive for a tradesman with 17 children.

Benjamin ended his schooling and worked for his father. He did not like the business, and eventually went to work for his brother, James, as a printer.

Late at night he would read the books in the print shop. A book by Thomas Tyron THE WAY TO HEALTH AND LONG LIFE inspired the teenager to adopt a vegetable diet.

He took up writing which his brother refused to print in his newspaper—The New England Courant. Therefore, young Benjamin adopted the pseudonym Silence Dogood.

The teenager wrote 15 letters as the middle-aged widow until his brother, who was worse than a slave master, discovered the truth. Mrs. Dogood was a super hit with the reading public, but sadly her premature death was at the hands of a man who could not appreciate the talented teenager working for him.

After conditions became intolerable for young Benjamin, he left his brother’s business and headed to Philadelphia since his brother made it impossible for him to find work in Boston. It would be in Philadelphia where Young Benjamin would thrive and become the legend that he is.

Now in January 2016 one must never decide that their fate is sealed, whatever their station in life may be. Both Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin had humble beginnings.

As you cast your gaze over the panoramic vistas of 2016 and beyond, dream the dream of what you want for yourself or for your family. Strive for it; sacrifice but never abandon hope.

For who knows what archaeological treasure may be buried just a few meters from your reach? Or what soaring above the terrestrial clouds may reveal on your journey to greatness?

Ad augusta per angusta (to high places by narrow path)
Sic itur ad astra (such is the path to the stars)
Excelsior (ever upward)

Currier and Ives, 1867
Currier and Ives, 1867

G. D. Williams © 2016

POST 648

Benjamin Franklin First Citizen of the 18th Century

He was one of the most extraordinary human beings the world has
ever known. Born into the family of a Boston candle maker, Benjamin
Franklin became the most famous American of his time. He helped
found a new nation and defined the American character. Writer,
inventor, diplomat, businessman, musician, scientist, humorist,
civic leader, international celebrity . . . genius.

Franklin’s prominence and success grew during the 1730s, especially with the publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack at the end of 1732. In addition to weather forecasts, astronomical information and poetry, the almanac—which Franklin published for 25 consecutive years—included proverbs and Franklin’s witty maxims such as “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” and “He that lies down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas.”

Ben’s inventions include: bifocals, lightning rod, Glass Armonica, library chair, swim fins, the long reach device, Franklin Stove, catheter, and Daylight Savings Time.

Ben stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776); the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778); the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1782); and the Constitution (1787). He helped to write parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Franklin, who had a rule for everything, had a rule for writing: “No Piece can properly be called good, and well written, which is void of any Tendency to benefit the Reader, either by improving his Virtue or his Knowledge.” But he roped himself to this and so many other masts only because he found himself so cast about by “the Force of perpetual Temptations.” He is a Governor that governs his Passions, and he a Servant that serves them. He carried with him a little book in which he kept track, day by day, of whether he had lived according to thirteen virtues, including Silence, which he hoped to cultivate “to break a Habit I was getting into of Prattling, Punning and Joking.” What made Franklin great was how nobly he strived for perfection; what makes him almost impossibly interesting is how far short he fell of it.

At ten years old I was taken home to assist my father in his business, which was that of a tallow-chandler and sope-boiler; a business he was not bred to, but had assumed on his arrival in New England, and on finding his dying trade would not maintain his family, being in little request. Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wick for the candles, filling the dipping mold and the molds for cast candles, attending the shop, going of errands, etc.