Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

(January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790)

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”


Founding Father Ben Franklin can honestly say he did it all. From scientist and writer, to printer and inventor, to statesman and patriot, his life truly covered a wide spectrum of experience. Franklin’s multi-faceted resume includes the job titles of publisher, scientist, philosopher and political theorist—just to name a few. He also founded the first library and the first fire station, in addition to inventing the postal system. He managed to accomplish all of this and maintain his sanity because he knew how to avoid taking life too seriously.

Unsurprisingly, history smiles upon Ben Franklin, as does anyone who’s ever read his biography, or his own famous literary efforts including Poor Richard’s Almanac. So rarely are we privy to the humor of historical figures; it’s hard to imagine that a grandfatherly man of such repute as Franklin can also be counted among the ranks of such wry modern-day satirists as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. In the most telling testament of his caliber, back in colonial days, England deemed him “the most dangerous man in America”, a distinction that’s pretty hard to top.

When he was 14, Ben wrote for his brother’s newspaper, The New England Courant, under the pen name Silence Dogood, a character he created because he doubted his brother would allow him to contribute otherwise. He’d sneak his writings in the darkness of night, where no one would recognize him.

An opinionated, elderly female who fearlessly opined on everything—particularly women’s issues, Silence Dogood was an immediate hit with the locals. Soon, everyone was chomping at the bit to discover her real identity. After 16 letters, Ben finally confessed the truth. While the townspeople perceived him as a genius, James was more than a little jealous.

Eventually, Franklin’s printing career led him from New England to New York, to London to Philadelphia, where he founded Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” In colonial times, books were very expensive; therefore the Junto members created a library, which they started with their own books. Ben later got the idea for a subscription library, where the members would pool their resources to buy books to share.

He wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac —a collection of stories that prominently display his wit—under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders.

Ben was a bawdy old fellow. Only fairly recently did his salute to the free press, entitled Fart Proudly, gain newfound popularity. In Franklin’s time, there was no such thing as “political correctness.” Liberals today would probably swoon at his writings, but during his time, it was quite commonplace to express one’s thoughts freely.

Given the stranglehold political correctness has over our current culture, it’s a blessing that Benjamin Franklin lived in a much different society. One cannot help but wonder where the USA and the world would the world be without him and his ideas.

Brooke Musterman

About the Author:

Harried yet happy barista Brooke Musterman is the author of Reptiles on Caffeine and the proprietor of the excellent blog Reptilian Rantings. Follow her on twitter and connect with her on Facebook.

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Theodore Frelinghuysen

Theodore Frelinghuysen

(March 28, 1787 – April 12, 1862)

“Do the obligations of justice change with the color of the skin?”

It would go down as one of America’s greatest tragedies—The Indian Removal Act issued by President Andrew Jackson in 1830—which led to the Trail of Tears and the death of 4,000 Cherokee men, women and children in 1836. But one New Jersey senator took a bold stand against “Old Hickory.”

Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen, along with the Alamo hero Davy Crockett, argued against the removal of the American Indians in Georgia to the West of the Mississippi River.

“However mere human policy, or the law of power, or the tyrant’s plea of expediency may have found it convenient at any or in all times to recede from the unchangeable principles of eternal justice, no argument can shake the political maxim—that where the Indian always has been, he enjoys an absolute right still to be, in the free exercise of his own modes of thought, government, and conduct.”

He further said, “We have crowded the tribes upon a few miserable acres on our Southern frontier—it is all that is left to them of their once boundless forests, and still, like the horseleech, our insatiated cupidity cries, give, give.”

Frelinghuysen went on to state, “Is it one of the prerogatives of the white man, that he may disregard the dictates of moral principles, when an Indian shall be concerned? No.”

According to his official Senate biography, Frelinghuysen was born in 1787 and served as New Jersey Attorney General from 1817 to 1829. Later he became mayor of Newark, New Jersey from 1837 to 1838, helped lead New York University from 1839 to 1850, and served as president of Rutgers University from 1850 to 1861.

In the election 1844, he was chosen to be the running mate of Senator Henry Clay for the 1844 Presidential election (which was won by Democrat James K. Polk).  One of Clay’s biographers described Frelinghuysen as “a fine man, even extraordinary, with impeccable credentials” and even complimented his “work with benevolent moral reform movements.”
Though much is known about his contemporaries including Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun, Frelinghuysen’s contributions are left by the wayside of history.

Still, what gave him his foundation of spirit? The Bible.

As he said in a letter, “Let it [the Bible] find its way into every cottage until the whole mass of out population shall yield to its elevating power; and under the…smiles of Him who delights to bless the Word, our government, the last hope of liberty, will rest on foundations against which the winds and waves shall beat in vain.”

In 1830, it was this spiritual foundation that gave Frelinghuysen, the courage to stand before the most powerful man since George Washington and ask:

“Mr. President, if we abandon these aboriginal proprietors of our soil—these early allies and adopted children of our forefathers, how shall we justify it to our country, to all the glory of the past and the promise of the      future?….How shall we justify this trespass to ourselves?”

—Don E. Smith Jr.

Sources:

AMERICAN LION by Jon Meacham, Published by Random House 2008

HENRY CLAY, THE ESSENTIAL AMERICAN by David & Jeanne Heidler, Published by Random House 2010

About the Author:

Don Everett Smith, Jr. is an experienced writer with a diverse background in journalism, books, magazines, websites, political commentary and comic book scripts with leadership experience as an editor, recruiter, group leader and internet radio host. He’s also the proprietor of the blog Don Smith Writes — not to mention one of the hardest working networkers I know!

Follow Don on twitter and connect with him on Facebook.

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Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

(January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


Edmund Burke was an author of philosophy, orator, and political classic. Known as the father of modern conservatism, he was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a prominent attorney. He was home-schooled early on and later became a boarder at a school run by Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker from Yorkshire. After boarding in County Kildare, Burke attended university at Trinity College, Dublin. His political enemies accused him of being educated at the Jesuit seminary of St. Omer’s and harboring Catholic sympathies, which at the time would have disqualified him from holding public office.  After graduation, he proceeded to law school in Middle Temple in London, but soon discovered he had no calling for the legal profession, opting instead to pursue a literary career.

In February 1757 Burke, along with Robert Dodsley, was commissioned to write a “history of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the end of the reign of Queen Anne.” Burke completed to the year 1216, but never published the work himself. It wasn’t until 1812—when found among his papers—that the book was published.

The following year, also in partnership with Dodsley, Burke created the influential Annual Register, a publication in which various authors evaluated the international political events of the previous year. The amount of Burke’s individual contribution to the Register is unknown, but he remained its editor in chief until at least 1789.

In 1765, Burke became the private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham and entered the British Parliament as a member of the House of Commons for Wendover, a pocket borough in the control of Lord Fermanagh, a close political ally of Rockingham. After Burke’s maiden speech, William Pitt the Elder remarked that Burke had “spoken in such a manner as to stop the mouths of all Europe” and that the Commons should congratulate itself on acquiring such a member. He remained in the British House of Commons for nearly 29 years.

Burke expressed his support for the grievances of the American colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. He made a speech that was published in January 1775 on a motion to repeal the tea tax. He was a strong advocate of allowing the colonies to break peacefully away from Britain, as the colonists were “the American English, our English Brethren in the colonies.”

Burke highly contested the French Revolution, primarily due to the extreme violence employed by the French Revolutionaries, whom he referred to as the “swinish multitude”.  He wrote many treatises on both domestic and international affairs, turning his attention in his later years to his native Ireland and the rights of Catholics. He failed to establish a political dynasty, nor did he leave a straightforward legacy to any ideology, though many have attempted to co-opt him. Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is understood to be the manifesto of Conservative thought.

—Joan Schaefer Poach

 

About the Author:

Religious, spiritual and liberty-loving Joan Schaefer-Poach has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Connecticut since she was three weeks old. Both her mother and her grandmother were Past Department Presidents of the organization for the state of Connecticut, and, in 1997, Joan followed in their footsteps. This made history within the organization, as Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only two states in the country who have had three generations of members serve as Department President.

Joan currently works as a Technical Support Group supervisor for Cablevision in Shelton CT, in a 500- person-plus facility with a group that consists primarily of entry-level individuals fresh out of college. As a result, she experiences first-hand the entitlement attitude that is taught in the public school system and fights diligently to eliminate it in the workplace.

Fed up with the “hate America first” attitude that has taken over the schools from kindergarten all the way through college, Joan believes that the only way to fix this country is by exposing youngsters to our history in a way that brings it to vibrant life — as opposed to the dull recitation of dates and facts. There’s an old saying that states, “what’s past is prologue”, and if we want this country to once again be free of the onerous links to socialism and fascism, our children need our guidance. Joan fervently hopes to assist with this effort.

Editor’s Note: Joan is dedicating all of her contributions to the memory of Andrew Breitbart. RIP.

 

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