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Steve April
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1/1/2020 7:51:27 PM

9/7/2019 11:00:24 PM
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IAC Prime Member


Steve April

2/8/2017 12:27:45 PM ---- Updated 2/10/2017 12:17:38 PM

Franklin's Friends (ramblings about Ben Franklin, and a new nation)
I'm reading about Ben Franklin, and find many similarities between starting a new country, and Ben was very important, indeed possibly as instrumental as Washington and Jefferson, in helping start up the United States as a nation, and a music site, humble though it may be, like this.

For example, Ben was among the first to understand the importance of friendships, associations, and "organizations for the common good." In his 20s, he helped start the first lending library, fire brigade, and night watchman corps in the colonies, and later a hospital, a militia, and a college (U. of Pennsylvania).

When the colonies were squabbling with each other he stressed "United, we stand." E pluribus unum ("out of many, one") was proposed by Franklin, Jefferson and Adams, to be the nation's motto, in 1776.

Also, Ben was famous, a celebrity, worldwide, for being a scientist who "seized lightning from the heavens." His experiments with electricity, flying a kite, galvanized the world at the time. He coined terms like "positive" and "negative" "charges," "battery," and "conductor," that we use to this day.

The U.S. won the Revolutionary War, and Ben was instrumental in securing aid from the french, to help do it. He was our French ambassador, and they regarded him highly in France, figuring if america can produce men like Ben, they should be supported. The French navy, and Lafayette, supported the U.S. during the war, with ships, troops, and artillery.

Anyway...a guy for all seasons...to be continued...

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Psyche's Muse

2/8/2017 2:49:58 PM

yep! Good ol' Ben ...way underrated and was "The Brain" behind the scenes most times. -M-

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Steve April

2/9/2017 11:53:24 AM ---- Updated 2/9/2017 12:39:48 PM

Yes, Ben's mind was very active. He became a famous practical inventor, though never even college educated, very learned, in practical matters, and letters, with a large library.

Boston was growing, with a population of about 7,000 at the time. One in four babies died before a week old.

Benjamin Franklin grew up, among the youngest of 15 siblings, in a poor New England household. His father was a candle-maker. A big, hearty guy, quick with a story or a joke. At age 9 or so, Ben began working, making candles, “skimming rendered tallow from boiling cauldrons of fat, and cutting wicks and filling molds,” and Ben quickly wanted to “go to sea” when he got older.

Ben became apprenticed to his older brother James, in his teens, in the printing business. His brother turned out to be a bully, and they did not get along.

After a few years, he ran away to Philidelphia, away from puritan Boston, and apprenticed to a printer there.

Unlike Jefferson or Washington, or Hancock, Ben was a “leather apron” guy. He was diligent learning the printing business (either that or starve). Early on he showed a talent for writing, and gentle satire, and he would publish stories under pseudonyms like Silence Dogood, that proved amusing and educational to readers. He developed enlightenment views, different than the stricter puritan views, in Boston.

He shunned arguing, and found early in life, that employing the Socratic method, and asking questions gently, got him better results...to be continued...

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2/9/2017 12:42:40 PM

well we can't all be Ben Franklin. :)

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Psyche's Muse

2/9/2017 9:48:23 PM

nope! ...not even when that man's an ancestor on your momma's side of the family! ; )

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2/10/2017 12:22:17 AM

We could sure use another Ben Franklin today.

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Steve April

2/10/2017 12:04:57 PM ---- Updated 2/10/2017 12:26:38 PM

A few colorful sayings by Ben;

1. Well done is better than well said.

2. If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.

3. Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.

4. Little strokes fell great oaks.

5. When you're finished changing, you're finished.

His experiments with electricity caught the world attention. Papers were headlining like ""the new Prometheus, for stealing fires from the heavens."

He came up with the distinction between insulators and conductors, the idea of electrical grounding, and the concepts of capacitors and batteries. It was said Franklin "found electricity a curiosity, and left it a science."

On the national front, his profile also grew, due to his many associations, clubs, and services to the colonies. He was appointed the first postmaster in the colonies (by the British). By the 1750s, he was so well known he could afford to make a deal with his printer partner, and leave behind the day to day "leather apron" life, and afford to be able to serve the colonies, to be a diplomat, and ambassador, to England, then France.

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2/10/2017 4:43:51 PM

What an amazing man he was. Great post sir! Thanks!


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Steve April

2/11/2017 11:41:25 AM ---- Updated 2/11/2017 11:42:55 AM

Thanks, Stoneman, good to hear from you.

Ben’s wild and crazy youth. Well, maybe not wild and crazy but bold and brash enough anyway.

He was a rugged, handsome lad, with a gregarious nature. In his early teens he excelled in swimming. He played around with ways to make himself go faster in the water. The size of people’s hands and feet affected how much water they could push, he realized, and their propelling power. So he made paddles for his hands and flippers for his feet, to help him speed through the water.

In his early twenties, his friends were literate poet types, and they would have discussions about everything under the sun. He loved discussing philosophy, poetry, and life. On three separate occasions he lent friends considerable sums, and they never repaid him. So, he learned early about temptation, and broken promises. He became a vegetarian, because he felt it was healthier, and the money he saved on meat products, he spent on books, and educating himself, not being able to attend college.

Later, in Philidelphia, a successful printer, he organized a Pennsylvania militia. In the 1740s, way before the Revolution, the British warred with the french and both connived with the Indians, and privateer gangs would mount nighttime raids on the colonies. Sacking the city, rape and mayhem was a possibility. Franklin wrote, “at present we are like separate filaments of flax before the thread is formed, without strength because without connection,” he declared. “But union would make us strong.” Who could save the colonies? “We the middling people, the tradesmen, shopkeepers and farmers of this province and city.” So, the first militia, independent of the British was formed.

So, he spun an image that would apply to much of his work in the ensuing years...to be continued...

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Steve April

2/19/2017 12:12:45 PM ---- Updated 2/19/2017 12:25:41 PM

Ben Franklin’s revolutionary days

By the time 1776 rolled around, Ben was already 70 years old, a generation older than Washington, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.

His pioneering work on electricity and “snatching lightning from the heavens” gained him international celebrity, especially among the English and French. Not to mention his best selling book, Poor Richard’s Almanac, full of news, stories and maxims, a hit best seller in America and abroad.

The colonies appointed Ben ambassador to Britain, and after the war began, and he was fired from his colonies Postmaster job by the British, and was kicked out of England, barely escaping with his life and freedom, the colonies appointed him ambassador to France.

John Adams joined Franklin in France to represent the colonies, and noted, “his reputation was more universal than that of Leibniz, or Voltaire, and his character more loved and esteemed. There was scarcely a peasant, or a citizen, a valet de chamber, coachman or footman, a lady’s chambermaid or a scullion in the kitchen who was not familiar with Franklin’s name.” Indeed Franklin’s celebrity became so annoying to the French king that the King gave a countess, and vocal fan of Franklin, a piss-pot with Franklin’s face at the bottom.

Nevertheless, Franklin managed to finesse loan after loan from the king, who was a perennial foe to England, despite the king's qualms about democracy, and its challenge to monarchy in general, to help finance the revolution.

Ben recruited the dynamic young commander Lafayette to help the colonies, in the war, and also managed to fund the building of a ship, The Bonhomme Richard, for John Paul Jones, and helped secure him a naval command. These two became decisive in aiding the colonies in the war.

Ben’s strained relationship with his son, a British loyalist, and their governor in New Jersey, became a family drama. Meanwhile he was dealin' with gout, and kidney stones, poor guy...

Ben formed bonds with various young and older French ladies (his wife was scared of sea-journeys and stayed home) and excited comment that he had a “ménage a toi”, and scandalized a few, including Adams, a puritan. Franklin seemed to spend too much time attending dinner and parties, and sharing his company with women and children. A commentator noted, “in colonial America it was sinful to look idle, in France it was vulgar to look busy.” Adams admired Franklin but was consumed by envy. Jefferson on the other hand wrote, “More respect and veneration attached to the character of Dr. Franklin in France than to any other person, foreign or native,” he wrote, and he proclaimed Franklin “the greatest man and ornament of the age.” After the war, when Jefferson was tapped to replace Franklin, Jefferson gave his reply, “No one can replace him, Sir, I am only his successor.”

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Steve April

2/24/2017 4:30:14 PM ---- Updated 2/24/2017 4:39:57 PM

History's Reflections

Ben Franklin’s been criticized a lot by various personages through the last two centuries. He’s been called “the first yuppie” due to his emphasis on upwardly mobile striving, thrift and useful behavior. He’s been castigated by D.H. Lawrence, the novelist, who commented in part, “It has taken me many years and countless smarts to get out of that barbed wire moral enclosure that Poor Richard rigged up…” However, it should be noted, that Lawrence aimed his assault not on the real life Franklin but on the character he created in his hit book Poor Richard, Richard Saunders, a poor farmer spouting maxims, and joining a socially mobile middle class.

There were rumors that Franklin may have been a mass murderer. Years later, there were a score of skeletal remains found under his house on Craven Street in London.

"The most plausible explanation is not mass murder, but an anatomy school run by Benjamin Franklin’s young friend and protege, William Hewson,” said the Guardian in 2003.

Anatomy was still in its infancy but the day’s social mores frowned upon it… A steady supply of human bodies was hard to come by legally, so Hewson, Hunter, and the field’s other pioneers had to turn to grave robbing — either paying professional “resurrection men” to procure cadavers or digging them up themselves — to get their hands on specimens. Researchers think that 36 Craven was an irresistible spot for Hewson to establish his own anatomy lab. The tenant was a trusted friend, the landlady was his mother-in-law, and he was flanked by convenient sources for corpses. Bodies could be smuggled from graveyards and delivered to the wharf at one end of the street, or snatched from the gallows at the other end. When he was done with them, Hewson simply buried whatever was left of the bodies in the basement, rather than sneak them out for disposal elsewhere and risk getting caught and prosecuted for dissection and grave robbing.
smithsonian magazine (shades of "Young Frankenstein")

Incidentally, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, was inspired by Ben's experiments with electricity, and including the title.

Here is Franklin’s “dress rehearsal” epitaph…when a printer in Philadelphia...

The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the cover of an old book,
Its contents worn out,
and stripped of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost;
For it will, (as he believed) appear once more,
In a new and more elegant edition,
Revised and corrected
By the Author.

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Shoe City Sound

2/26/2017 12:57:16 PM

Fabulous history - didn't know most of that stuff - thanks Steve. "If everyone is thinking alike then no one is thinking" love that one.

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Psyche's Muse

2/27/2017 6:22:44 AM ---- Updated 2/27/2017 6:31:45 AM

"Ben" there done that...

Being "Frank" is "dangerous"

"Frank" is honest...

And "Exposure" is "Death"

Like the Magician's "Tricks"(or "Magic")

Bein' "Frankly" isn't "fun"...

Surprisingly, the "Frankenstein" monster was "Afraid" of "Fire"...

Seems like "Frank" and "Fire" should be sononomous...

As "Exposure" and "Enlightenment" relate to "Fire"

Anyway, I've been "Frank" for much of my life...

to no avail...

"Ben" Frank???

There WILL BE a "COST"!!!

Who is willing to pay????

Oh! BTW! There WAS(IS) "RAMBLING" in the Title of this post!

So, please...

Forgive My indulgence...

in such things...

like all of this nonsense!

For I am truly a "fan" of the Great Ben Franklin!

One of The Greatest of Our Founding Fathers!

and My Ancestor!!!

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Shoe City Sound

2/27/2017 9:31:27 AM

Your family goes back to Ben Franklin?! That's amazing :)

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Steve April

3/2/2017 3:12:43 PM ---- Updated 3/2/2017 6:12:35 PM

A few more maxims from Ben (Poor Richard's Almanac).

"No gains without pains."

"A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees."

"When the well's dry, they know the worth of water."

"Half the truth is often a great lie."

"Joy is not in things; it is in us."

Go fly a kite, Ben! (discover electricity's secrets)


Ben invented a musical instrument (loved music), a glass armonica. Developed from observing rubbing wine glasses with wet fingers, for pleasing sounds.

In Franklin's treadle-operated version, 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The sound was produced by touching the rims of the bowls with water-moistened fingers.

Mozart wrote pieces for it, and also Beethoven.

Alas, the "sweet sounds" were rumored to lead to melancholia, after a main player died under mysterious circumstances.

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Psyche's Muse

3/2/2017 6:45:02 PM

Sounds like a pretty cool instrument(those 37 bowls)... and I'd love to hear one of those classical songs from it.

Oh, and about this:
"...a main player died under mysterious circumstances."

Maybe that fellow was drinking the wine from those 37 bowls while adjusting their pitch... and he liked doing it so much that he literally "got carried away"...haha!

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Steve April

3/3/2017 2:53:24 PM ---- Updated 3/3/2017 2:54:33 PM

Psyches Muse...A little sideshow, or detour, about Ben Franklin's musical invention, the armonica. Thanks for asking, who knew?

"With its delicate sound and unusual appearance, the instrument soon became popular – even French queen Marie Antoinette took lessons – and thousands were built and sold.

Hearing the singing glasses, listeners credited the instrument with mind-altering affects. Princess Izabella Czartoryska of Poland, who met Franklin and his armonica in 1772, wrote an account: 'I was ill, in a state of melancholia, and writing my testament and farewell letters... [Franklin] opened an armonica, sat down and played long. The music made a strong impression on me and tears began flowing from my eyes. Then Franklin sat by my side and looking with compassion said, "Madam, you are cured." Indeed in that moment I was cured of my melancholia.'

Later, the eerie music, and the instrument in general, became "scary", due to the deaths of famous players, hypothesized perhaps because of lead poisoning, though experts say that lead poisoning is caused by ingestion mainly, not touching, so, probably coincidence, but that coupled with the "eerie" music" was enough to end the fad...

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Steve April

3/8/2017 1:46:39 PM ---- Updated 3/8/2017 1:51:27 PM

here's a demonstration of the armonica...

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Steve April

3/19/2017 6:53:18 PM

Well, in closing, Ben Franklin's remarks/thoughts on the Indians (Native Americans) should remind us all that tolerance, civility, and a broad general view, rather than dogma and "attitude" are often the way to a humane perspective that leans forward, not back...

"They are not deficient in natural understanding and yet they have never shown the slightest inclination to change their manner of life for ours, or to learn any of our arts."
Ben Franklin, 1753

"Savages, we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs."
--Ben Franklin, 1784

"Christian white savages committed murders. I shall not fail to write the government of America, urging that effectual care may be taken to protect and save the remainder of those unhappy people." (converted Indians who were being attacked by the Paxton boys, a gang of thugs who slaughtered Indians, who Franklin helped negotiate a "truce" with, at risk to his own life.)
Ben Franklin, 1764

"During the course of a long life in which I have made observations on public affairs, it has appeared to me that almost every war between the Indians and the whites has been occasioned by some injustice of the latter towards the former."
--Ben Franklin, 1787

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