Why Benjamin Franklin?


This web site is intended to communicate helpful and useful information on political topics from a conservative point of view. The author defines conservatism as preserving the principles demonstrated in the lives of our founding fathers and immortalized in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

The internet address of this web site features an abbreviation of Benjamin Franklin’s name. Our home page features a graphic image of his face. While there were many who epitomized the core values of the American Experiment, Franklin embodied the heart and soul of the middle class American dream in a very practical sense. His was not just a philosophical adherence to the rights of all men to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” but a practical roadmap for citizens to make the leap from humble beginnings to great accomplishments. Of this he was a sterling example of his own teaching. He was one of a number of founding fathers who placed much importance on character and integrity, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. None of them were perfect . Like all men they had feet of clay and were subjected to pressures and temptations, but the sum of their lives clearly reflected the principles they held dear. As a young man Franklin listed thirteen life principles that guided his entire life.

1. Temperance: Eat not dullness; 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 it's 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; waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no harmful 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. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, nor at accidents.

12. Chastity: Be chaste in matters with the opposite sex.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin was truly  self made man. Much of his accomplishment may be attributable to abnormal innate talent, but his principles of “Thrift and Industry” have served well many who followed him in making their mark in this world, patronage notwithstanding. He was the oldest of our founding fathers in the struggle for independence, and in the creation of our Federal Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin was a Deist. He believed in God but did not accept the doctrine of being justified with God purely through the grace of Jesus Christ. In this I part company with him. There is evidence that Franklin took this position, at least in part, because, in his observation of those in the church who held to the grace view, there was too little concern about doing good for others. He believed that one’s required service to God was in benevolence and service to mankind. Ephesians 2:8-10 clearly states that it is by grace that men are saved, but it ends with  “For we are … created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. So Franklin was right about the importance of good works, but his God was distant, not personal. For most of his life Franklin, as a Deist, believed that God is benevolent though distant in the affairs of men. Late in life Franklin became acutely aware of the divisions and difficulties between men and realized that, apart from Divine Providence, the very existence and longevity of our nation would have been virtually impossible. It was he who proposed starting each session of the Constitutional Convention with prayer.

Franklin had a long-standing problem with social class distinctions, and rule by elites whose claim to power was anything other than natural ability to lead, integrity, and the “content of their character.”

Beside all of this the first school I ever attended bore his name.

I hope you agree that Benjamin Franklin is a fitting icon for a web site that lays claim to conservative principles.