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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.

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Citations Benjamin Franklin

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„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. "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain" (1725) https://thefederalistpapers.org/founders/franklin/benjamin-franklin-mankind-naturally-and-generally-love-to-be-flatterdm.

„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. Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania (1749), p. 22 http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/printedbooksNew/index.cfm?textID=franklin_youth&PagePosition=1; 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.

„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. Letter http://www.franklinpapers.org/franklin/framedVolumes.jsp to Robert Morris (25 December 1783).

„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. Letter to Benjamin Vaughan http://www.2think.org/priestly.shtml (24 October 1788).

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„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.

„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. On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor http://founding.com/founders-library/american-political-figures/benjamin-franklin/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 Writings http://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Writings-Library-America-Benjamin/dp/0940450291 (1987), p. 1154-1155.

„But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: Whilst the last members were signing it Doctor Franklin looking towards the President's Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. "I have," said he, "often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun." At the signing of the United States Constitution, Journal of the Constitutional Convention (17 September 1787).

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„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.“

— 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, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Priestley http://books.google.com/books?id=psMGAAAAQAAJ... Vol.1 (1831).

„But think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: I have read your Manuscript with some Attention. By the Arguments it contains against the Doctrine of a particular Providence, tho’ you allow a general Providence, you strike at the Foundation of all Religion: For without the Belief of a Providence that takes Cognizance of, guards and guides and may favour particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its Protection. I will not enter into any Discussion of your Principles, tho’ you seem to desire it; At present I shall only give you my Opinion that tho’ your Reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some Readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general Sentiments of Mankind on that Subject, and the Consequence of printing this Piece will be a great deal of Odium drawn upon your self, Mischief to you and no Benefit to others. He that spits against the Wind, spits in his own Face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any Good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous Life without the Assistance afforded by Religion; you having a clear Perception of the Advantages of Virtue and the Disadvantages of Vice, and possessing a Strength of Resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common Temptations. But think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security; And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent Talents of reasoning on a less hazardous Subject, and thereby obtain Rank with our most distinguish’d Authors. For among us, it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots that a Youth to be receiv’d into the Company of Men, should prove his Manhood by beating his Mother. I would advise you therefore not to attempt unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it is seen by any other Person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of Mortification from the Enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of Regret and Repentance. If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it? Letter to unknown recipient (13 December 1757) http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=473. The letter was published as early as 1817 (William Temple Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, volume VI, pp. 243-244). In 1833 William Wisner ("Don't Unchain the Tiger," American Tract Society, 1833) identified the recipient as probably Thomas Paine, which was echoed by Jared Sparks in his 1840 edition of Franklin's works (volume x, p. 281). (Presumably it would have been directed against The Age of Reason, his deistic work which criticized orthodox Christianity.) Calvin Blanchard responded to Wisner's tract in The Life of Thomas Paine (1860), pp. 73-74, by noting that Franklin died in 1790, while Paine did not begin writing The Age of Reason until 1793, and incorrectly concluded that the letter did not exist. Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, included it in They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), on p. 28. Moncure Daniel Conway pointed out (The Life of Thomas Paine, 1892, vol I, p. vii) that the recipient could not be Thomas Paine, in that he, unlike Paine, denied a "particular providence". The intended recipient remains unidentified. Parts of the above have also been rearranged and paraphrased: I would advise you not to attempt Unchaining The Tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be Without it? Think how many inconsiderate and inexperienced youth of both sexes there are, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual.

„I was on the whole much pleased, and from what I then saw, have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race, than I had ever before entertained. Their apprehension seems as quick, their memory as strong, and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children.“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: They appeared all to have made considerable progress in reading for the time they had respectively been in the school, and most of them answered readily and well the questions of the catechism. They behaved very orderly, and showed a proper respect and ready obedience to the mistress, and seemed very attentive to, and a good deal affected by, a serious exhoration with which Mister Sturgeon concluded our visit. I was on the whole much pleased, and from what I then saw, have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race, than I had ever before entertained. Their apprehension seems as quick, their memory as strong, and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children. Letter to Waring (17 December 1783), after visiting a school, as quoted in [//web.archive.org/web/20131118045451/http://www.home.nas.com/lopresti/bf.htm The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin] (March 2002), by H.W. Brands, p. 355.<!---->

„As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see“

— Benjamin Franklin
Context: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. As quoted in Benjamin Franklin: An Exploration of a Life of Science and Service (1938) by Carl Van Doren,<!-- New York: The Viking Press --> p. 777. Variation: "The moral and religious system which Jesus Christ transmitted to us is the best the world has ever seen, or can see.", as quoted in John Wallis (1856), The British Millennial Harbinger https://books.google.es/books?id=jfgDAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA428&dq=franklin, p. 428.

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