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Benjamin Franklin

Date de naissance: 17. janvier 1706
Date de décès: 17. avril 1790

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Benjamin Franklin, né le 17 janvier 1706 à Boston et mort le 17 avril 1790 à Philadelphie, est un imprimeur, éditeur, écrivain, naturaliste, inventeur et homme politique américain.

Il participe à la rédaction de la déclaration d'indépendance des États-Unis, dont il est un des signataires, ce qui fait de lui l'un des Pères fondateurs des États-Unis. Pendant la révolution américaine, il négocie en France en tant que diplomate non seulement le traité d'alliance avec les Français, mais aussi le traité de Paris. Délégué de la Convention de Philadelphie, il participe à l'élaboration de la Constitution des États-Unis.

La vie de Benjamin Franklin est en grande partie caractérisée par la volonté d'aider la communauté. La fondation des premiers sapeurs-pompiers volontaires à Philadelphie, la première bibliothèque de prêt des États-Unis et l'invention du poêle à bois à combustion contrôlée illustrent son ambition d'améliorer la qualité de vie et l'accès à l'éducation de ses concitoyens. Avec l'invention du paratonnerre, il parvient à écarter le danger que représentait jusqu'à présent ce phénomène naturel.

Fils d'un marchand de suif et de chandelles, Benjamin Franklin mène une carrière d'imprimeur, avant de se retirer du milieu des affaires à l'âge de 42 ans pour entrer en politique. Son ascension sociale - rapportée à travers les nombreuses éditions de son autobiographie - restera longtemps un exemple de réussite par le travail et la discipline.

Citations Benjamin Franklin

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„I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestly. I do not call him honest by way of distinction; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic. [http://www.2think.org/priestly.shtml Letter to Benjamin Vaughan] (24 October 1788).

„In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. [http://founding.com/founders-library/american-political-figures/benjamin-franklin/on-the-price-of-corn-and-management-of-the-poor/ On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor] (29 November 1766).

„Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitious care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitious care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils. The unhappy man who has been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species. The galling chains, that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart… To instruct, to advise, to qualify those, who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty… and to procure for their children an education calculated for their future situation in life; these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted. For the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (1789). As quoted in [http://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Writings-Library-America-Benjamin/dp/0940450291 Writings] (1987), p. 1154-1155.

„Geese are but Geese tho' we may think 'em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho' it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter'd: Whatever sooths our Pride, and tends to exalt our Species above the rest of the Creation, we are pleas'd with and easily believe, when ungrateful Truths shall be with the utmost Indignation rejected. "What! bring ourselves down to an Equality with the Beasts of the Field! with the meanest part of the Creation! 'Tis insufferable!" But, (to use a Piece of common Sense) our Geese are but Geese tho' we may think 'em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho' it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful. [https://thefederalistpapers.org/founders/franklin/benjamin-franklin-mankind-naturally-and-generally-love-to-be-flatterdm "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain" (1725)].

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„Thus may the first Principles of sound Politics be fixed in the minds of youth.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: History will also afford frequent Opportunities of showing the Necessity of a Publick Religion, from its Usefulness to the Publick; the Advantage of a Religious Character among private Persons; the Mischiefs of Superstition, &c. and the Excellency of the above all others antient or modern. History will also give Occasion to expatiate on the advantage of Civil Orders and Constitutions, how men and their properties are protected by joining in Societies and establishing Government; their Industry encouraged and rewarded, Arts invented, and Life made more comfortable: the Advantages of Liberty, Mischiefs of Licentiousness, Benefits arising from good Laws and a due Execution of Justice &c. Thus may the first Principles of sound Politics be fixed in the minds of youth. On Historical occasions, Questions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice, will naturally arise, and may be put to Youth, which they may debate in Conversation and in Writing. When they ardently desire of Victory, for the Sake of the Praise attending it, they will begin to feel the want, and be sensible of the use of the Use of Logic, or the Art of Reasoning to discover Truth, and of Arguing to defend it, and convince adversaries. [http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/printedbooksNew/index.cfm?textID=franklin_youth&PagePosition=1 Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania (1749), p. 22]; the statement relates to the teaching of History as a subject, and the last quoted paragraph concludes with the footnote "†": Public Disputes warm the Imagination, whet the Industry, and strengthen the natural Abilities.

„I hope this will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in gardening, from an opinion of their being unwholesome.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: That the vegetable creation should restore the air which is spoiled by the animal part of it, looks like a rational system, and seems to be of a piece with the rest. Thus fire purifies water all the world over. It purifies it by distillation, when it raises it in vapours, and lets it fall in rain; and farther still by filtration, when keeping it fluid, it suffers that rain to percolate the earth. We knew before that putrid animal substances were converted into sweet vegetables when mixed with the earth and applied as manure; and now, it seems, that the same putrid substances, mixed with the air, have a similar effect. The strong, thriving state of your mint, in putrid air, seems to show that the air is mended by taking something from it, and not by adding to it. I hope this will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in gardening, from an opinion of their being unwholesome. I am certain, from long observation, that there is nothing unhealthy in the air of woods; for we Americans have everywhere our country habitations in the midst of woods, and no people on earth enjoy better health or are more prolific. "Letter to Joseph Priestley" in response to Priestley's "experiments on the restoration of air [by plants] made noxious by animals breathing it, or putrefying it..." read in Philosophical Transactions LXII 147-267 of the Royal Society (1772) and quoted in John Towill Rutt, [http://books.google.com/books?id=psMGAAAAQAAJ Life and Correspondence of Joseph Priestley]... Vol.1 (1831).

„But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength, both in numbers and wealth; … unless, by a neglect of military discipline, we should lose all martial spirit …; for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you. [http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/franklin-the-works-of-benjamin-franklin-vol-vi-letters-and-misc-writings-1772-1775#lf1438-06_head_007 Letter to Thomas Cushing (1773)].

„Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents & all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity & the Uses of it.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: All Property indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of publick Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents & all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity & the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man for the Conservation of the Individual & the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property of the Publick, who by their Laws have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire & live among Savages. — He can have no right to the Benefits of Society who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. [http://www.franklinpapers.org/franklin/framedVolumes.jsp Letter] to Robert Morris (25 December 1783).

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„All Wars are Follies, very expensive, and very mischievous ones“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: All Wars are Follies, very expensive, and very mischievous ones. When will Mankind be convinced of this, and agree to settle their Differences by Arbitration? Were they to do it, even by the Cast of a Dye, it would be better than by Fighting and destroying each other. [http://franklinpapers.org/franklin/yale?vol=38&page=668 Letter to Mary Hewson (27 January 1783)].

„Most People dislike Vanity in others whatever Share they have of it themselves“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Indeed I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory Words, Without Vanity I may say, etc. but some vain thing immediately follow'd. Most People dislike Vanity in others whatever Share they have of it themselves, but I give it fair Quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of Good to the Possessor and to others that are within his Sphere of Action: And therefore in many Cases it would not be quite absurd if a Man were to thank God for his Vanity among the other Comforts of Life. Part I, p. 2.

„When they ardently desire of Victory, for the Sake of the Praise attending it, they will begin to feel the want, and be sensible of the use of the Use of Logic, or the Art of Reasoning to discover Truth, and of Arguing to defend it, and convince adversaries.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: History will also afford frequent Opportunities of showing the Necessity of a Publick Religion, from its Usefulness to the Publick; the Advantage of a Religious Character among private Persons; the Mischiefs of Superstition, &c. and the Excellency of the above all others antient or modern. History will also give Occasion to expatiate on the advantage of Civil Orders and Constitutions, how men and their properties are protected by joining in Societies and establishing Government; their Industry encouraged and rewarded, Arts invented, and Life made more comfortable: the Advantages of Liberty, Mischiefs of Licentiousness, Benefits arising from good Laws and a due Execution of Justice &c. Thus may the first Principles of sound Politics be fixed in the minds of youth. On Historical occasions, Questions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice, will naturally arise, and may be put to Youth, which they may debate in Conversation and in Writing. When they ardently desire of Victory, for the Sake of the Praise attending it, they will begin to feel the want, and be sensible of the use of the Use of Logic, or the Art of Reasoning to discover Truth, and of Arguing to defend it, and convince adversaries. [http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/printedbooksNew/index.cfm?textID=franklin_youth&PagePosition=1 Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania (1749), p. 22]; the statement relates to the teaching of History as a subject, and the last quoted paragraph concludes with the footnote "†": Public Disputes warm the Imagination, whet the Industry, and strengthen the natural Abilities.

„Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestly. I do not call him honest by way of distinction; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however, mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic. [http://www.2think.org/priestly.shtml Letter to Benjamin Vaughan] (24 October 1788).

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