The Great History Vault and Ben Franklin
For the past several months I have been called to other responsibilities of life and have had to take a break from researching and writing. I have missed it very much. Because of the intense physical and mental demands of the past few months, I decided to sequester myself.
Sequestered at home by choice one fine day, the thought “God helps those who help themselves” came to mind and I followed that thread. I found that the above English phrase is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but it appeared earlier in the works of an English politician and philosopher named Algernon Sidney, born in 1693 in London, England.
I became curious about Benjamin Franklin and wanted to dig deeper to see what other treasures I could uncover from the “great history vault”. Benjamin Franklin is a famous historical figure studied my many for centuries, and like all others who have passed on - great and small alike – he too arrived at life’s “great history vault” while other brilliant ones took his place. Opening the “history vault” was exciting. It was like visiting an ancient museum where history comes to life. I pictured myself speaking British English as I walked among the early generations of Englishmen and women who left their mother country and settled into what became the early colonies as they discovered and fought for new freedoms.
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath, and in case you want to know the meaning of polymath, I looked it up and this is what I now know. “A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
A Founding Father of the United States, “Benjamin Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat”. Upon reading this impressive CV my question was, how does one go about life with all those credentials - all that knowledge?
I continued digging and found some accomplishments for which Mr. Benjamin Franklin is celebrated; then I discovered some things I have in common with Mr. Franklin, as surprising as that may sound.
“As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment (a period of intellectual ferment in the 17th to 18th century). He was also a major figure in the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He founded many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin Stove among others”.
“Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies at that time. Publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23, he became wealthy. After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper known for its revolutionary and criticisms of British policies. He was the first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which later became the University of Pennsylvania.”
Had I not done the research, I would have never realized how much I have benefited from one man in history, including the fact that Mr. Franklin and I share some common ground, as I’ve already mentioned.
You see, I was raised in Philadelphia since the age of three. I went to school, played, and grew up a very curious child there. I walked the same historical streets as Mr. Franklin. I worked in the historical district right out of high school, and I visited some of the historic homes and even worked in one of them. But I never familiarized myself with the historical wealth, the value, and significance of where I had lived. I had not studied the national and historical treasures of the city, nor the men who in the 17th and 1800’s walked the streets weaving some of it’s early history centuries before I walked those cobbled roads.
I am very glad I sequestered myself, and spent time at home using my modern bifocals and much appreciated electricity. Warmed myself with my modern Franklin Stove (central heating), and used my modern publishing tools (Apple computer, Microsoft Word, HP printer, Wikipedia, and the Internet). I am also very pleased that I started writing the chronicles of my arriving - not quite full-circle – but partially, into the person I continue to become as time passes and I too get closer to life’s “great history vault”.
I wish you all much knowledge and sequestering (if needed) as you get closer to the “Great History Vault” in 2019.
And, may you, like Benjamin Franklin, share all your brilliance and not hide any of it. It might just happen that someone will become enlightened by your unique history one sequestered day.