Bumping into Franklin in the Theodore Roosevelt Papers

President Theodore Roosevelt (TR) arranged for the Library of Congress to have his papers. Joseph Bucklin Bishop, New York newspaperman and for a time apparently literary executor of the papers, was among the first to be given permission to view these documents. Shortly after publishing his work, Mr. Bishop was amazed at the volume of …

Continue reading ‘Bumping into Franklin in the Theodore Roosevelt Papers’ »

Franklin and the Folger Library

These are two of my favorite topics: Franklin and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. The two overlap in many ways, but I want to start with a quote of the library’s founder that I came across for the first time today. Henry Folger traced his line back to Abiah’s father, Peter. Henry once …

Continue reading ‘Franklin and the Folger Library’ »

Franklin and Slavery

To the co-namesake of my son, Benjamin Thomas…. Dear Tom, You asked me online quite a while ago about Franklin and slavery. It’s true, he owned slaves for a while, even though later he joined (and was president of) our first society to abolish African slavery in America. It’s a tough issue for Franklinians, like …

Continue reading ‘Franklin and Slavery’ »

Factfulness Lament

The late Hans Rosling, in his recent book Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, relates an experience that bumps into Franklin. Rosling gave lectures about statistics that prove the world is in better shape than people commonly believe. His lectures were enthusiastically received, …

Continue reading ‘Factfulness Lament’ »

Sparking Joy: Are Fires Good or Bad?

Franklin wrote, in sentence 48 of The Way To Wealth: Three Removes is as bad as a Fire, with the word Removes meaning what we now call moves: the process of changing residences. Franklin’s immediate meaning is that changing residences, starting over someplace else, is costly: damages and losses ensue. Fair enough. In my family, …

Continue reading ‘Sparking Joy: Are Fires Good or Bad?’ »

Bumping Into Benjamin Franklin on The West Wing

I am slowly binge-watching episodes of West Wing and notice in Season 6, Episode 20, “In God We Trust” that Franklin shows up in the decorations of people in both parties. It’s a nice compliment that the set designers imagine both these classy characters would want Franklin’s image nearby. The Senate office of Republican Senator …

Continue reading ‘Bumping Into Benjamin Franklin on The West Wing’ »