benjamin franklin lovePosted: March 21, 2011
I started reading a Benjamin Franklin biography last night until I looked up and realized it was 1 a.m. which was surprising to me because 1) that’s way past my usual bedtime and 2) I don’t usually find biographies that riveting. I picked Ben Franklin because he seems like a pretty interesting guy and also because I know relatively little about him. I blame this on my elementary school history classes which were big on Virginia’s native sons like Washington and Jefferson and not so much on anyone who did anything outside of the Commonwealth.
Whether it is a fair assessment of my history classes, I’m not sure, but my fuzzy memory seems to recall that the day Franklin was mentioned it was something like “kites, electricity, ok back to the Declaration of Independence, which wasn’t written in Virginia but should have been!”
Anyway I’m learning all sorts of cool things about Mr. Franklin and his family, including that his brother started the nation’s first independent newspaper. I felt consoled by the news that Franklin “excelled at writing but failed at math” (which I chose to interpret as “you too can be as successful as the most famous founding father never to become President!”) But my favorite was when I learned that Franklin adopted vegetarianism for a time (not at all a popular decision) so that he could save half the money his brother gave him for food and spend it on books.
It has always been a mystery to my home state’s elementary schoolers why Franklin’s face graces the $100 bill (he wasn’t even born in Virginia!) while Washington and Jefferson got stuck with the $1 and nickel, respectively.
After learning about the lengths he went to for books, however, I completely understand. And it has nothing to do with kites.