I’m announcing a new feature of this blog, my Twitter account, and my Facebook account. This is something that grew out of my recent trip to Connecticut.

While my husband and I were in that state attending our nephew’s wedding, we made a side trip to Mystic Seaport. On my way out of that place, we stopped at a gift shop where I found copies of Benjamin Franklin’s classic Poor Richard’s Almanack on sale for $10. I had long heard of that book and had even read brief excepts from it when I took an American Studies class during my college freshman year a long time ago.

I began to thumb through that book and I realized one major thing: the book consists of brief words of wisdom, much of which would fit in with Twitter’s 140-character limit. I began to come up with an idea, one that I hope will get increased readers to my blog/Facebook page/Twitter account.

I know that for the past few months, Keith Olbermann has been devoting the last few minutes of his MSNBC show every Friday to reading one of James Thurber’s short stories. I thought about doing something similar for Benjamin Franklin. In fact, Franklin is ideal since his writings in Poor Richard’s Almanack is way shorter than one of Thurber’s stories. Franklin mostly devoted one or two lines to a platitude or words of wisdom. Occasionally he would do a very short poem but the writings in this book are mostly very short.

On top of that, in recent months Glenn Beck has been appropriating Ben Franklin (as well as the other Founding Fathers) to misuse them to make increasingly wacky far right extremist points in his controversial Fox News show. I want to do something to rectify this by showing Benjamin Franklin’s words as he really wrote them, not how Glenn Beck has twisted them to suit his own agenda.

After reading through parts of Poor Richard’s Almanack, I realized that it contains sayings that could inspire anyone regardless of political or religious beliefs. In fact, you don’t even have to be an American to appreciate what Franklin wrote. Even though that book was published in the 18th century, much of the content is still relevant today.

Even though Benjamin Franklin is listed as the author of Poor Richard’s Almanack and he wrote some of the content himself, he didn’t originate all of the words of wisdom in that book. Much of the sayings were commonly uttered by his contemporaries in the 18th century. Franklin basically wrote down much of what he heard other people say and compiled them together into a book. What Franklin did was no different from what the Brothers Grimm did when they travelled throughout Central Europe and copied down commonly told folktales that resulted in their classic Fairy Tales book You can say that Benjamin Franklin was an editor.

Over time I’m hoping for two things: 1) increased readership of my blog/Facebook page/Twitter account and 2) people will learn more about Benjamin Franklin than as the face of the US$100 bill or the guy who once flew a kite in bad weather. Here are a few parameters of this new weekly feature. Each Friday I will provide one short quote from Poor Richard’s Almanack and I will cross-post this quote in this blog, my Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Each quote will be presented as is. I will not correct spelling or punctuation because I want to preserve Franklin’s writings as he wrote them. I also used the British spelling of certain words (such as "neighbour" instead of "neighbor") because Franklin used it. I won’t offer any interpretations of what Franklin wrote because I want each reader to come to his/her conclusion as to what he/she thinks Franklin really meant.

So, without further ado, here is the first Benjamin Franklin quote from Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Benjamin Franklin

WITH the old Almanack and the old Year, Leave thy old Vices, tho’ ever so dear.

Advertisements