Franklin Observed

It has been a while since I have enjoyed or appreciated a first paragraph so much.

from Benjamin Franklin
Edmund S. Morgan

The first thing to do is overcome the image of a man perpetually at his desk, scribbling out the mountain of words that confronts us. Because Franklin wrote so well and so much, it is natural to think of him with pen in hand. But the man we will find in his writings likes to be in open air, walking the city streets, walking the countryside, walking the deck of a ship. Indoors, he like to be with people, sipping tea with young women, raising a glass with other men, playing chess, telling jokes, singing songs.

Already I'm inclined to like Franklin.  Whether or not this is the man as he was, I cannot say.  But it is certainly a description of a man who I would give much to meet and converse with.

Mr. Morgan also contributed the guiding essay for the monumental Franklin Papers site--a truly astounding online resource that anyone with an interest in American History would do well to visit.


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