The Grandfather of Our Country

January 17th, 2006 marks the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Since his death 216 years ago many volumes have been written that explore his numerous accomplishments in a wide variety of endeavors. Despite so much time passing, Franklin's list of achievements and his life's work still stand tall among the achievements of the many generations of Americans that have followed.

More impressive than any one achievement was his versatility. Franklin contributed to many areas of daily 18th century life. If you lived in the colonies during that period, more than likely your home was heated by a Franklin stove, your church was protected by Ben's lightning rod, and your money was printed by him.

If you lived in Philadelphia you might have read books printed by him, or have taken them out of a library he started. Your buildings were protected by his fire brigade, fire insurance company or the night watch that he started. In his spare time he led a militia that protected your frontier.

Many a young man and a not a few young women over the last two centuries have been lectured on Franklin's industriousness and his axioms on how to lead a productive life. For today, however, it is another group of Americans that can take a lesson from Franklin.

The first of the baby boomers are entering their sixties and beginning the end game of their lives. As in every other phase of their lives, this demographic group will have a major impact on the future of the United States. How will this aging cohort contribute in a productive way to our country?

Franklin's achievements in his old age are the ones that are likely to remain the most indelibly etched in American history as more centuries go by. In an era when the average life span was somewhere in the forties Franklin lived to be 84. It wasn't an easy 84, as he was beset with maladies common to the times. However despite these setbacks he was undaunted.

Just after his seventieth birthday Franklin was busy as a revolutionary, presiding at theContinental Congress, editing Jefferson's work on the Declaration of Independence, and becoming its oldest signer.

To put Franklin's age in context it might be useful to compare him to some of the historical founding luminaries of the time. John Adams was then 41, Sam Adams, 54, Thomas Jefferson, 33, George Washington 44, John Jay, 31 and John Hancock, 39.

At 70 Franklin was only beginning his contribution to the birth and defense of the fledgling nation. He spent the next nine years in Europe, tirelessly working to provide financial and material support for the battle and subsequent peace back home. In 1782, he, along with John Jay and John Adams, negotiated The Treaty of Peace with Great Britain.

In 1785 he made his last voyage home. However he still wasn't done with his contributions.  In 1787, he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, as well servings as delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

As we all contemplate the aging process and where we fit in the scheme of things, we might stop and once again take a very hard look at the old Ben Franklin. We can't be him, nor can we duplicate his achievements, but we certainly can try to think as he did about the seasons of life, and learn from his approach to all aspects of our lives.

January 17th, 2006 marks the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Since his death 216 years ago many volumes have been written that explore his numerous accomplishments in a wide variety of endeavors. Despite so much time passing, Franklin's list of achievements and his life's work still stand tall among the achievements of the many generations of Americans that have followed.

More impressive than any one achievement was his versatility. Franklin contributed to many areas of daily 18th century life. If you lived in the colonies during that period, more than likely your home was heated by a Franklin stove, your church was protected by Ben's lightning rod, and your money was printed by him.

If you lived in Philadelphia you might have read books printed by him, or have taken them out of a library he started. Your buildings were protected by his fire brigade, fire insurance company or the night watch that he started. In his spare time he led a militia that protected your frontier.

Many a young man and a not a few young women over the last two centuries have been lectured on Franklin's industriousness and his axioms on how to lead a productive life. For today, however, it is another group of Americans that can take a lesson from Franklin.

The first of the baby boomers are entering their sixties and beginning the end game of their lives. As in every other phase of their lives, this demographic group will have a major impact on the future of the United States. How will this aging cohort contribute in a productive way to our country?

Franklin's achievements in his old age are the ones that are likely to remain the most indelibly etched in American history as more centuries go by. In an era when the average life span was somewhere in the forties Franklin lived to be 84. It wasn't an easy 84, as he was beset with maladies common to the times. However despite these setbacks he was undaunted.

Just after his seventieth birthday Franklin was busy as a revolutionary, presiding at theContinental Congress, editing Jefferson's work on the Declaration of Independence, and becoming its oldest signer.

To put Franklin's age in context it might be useful to compare him to some of the historical founding luminaries of the time. John Adams was then 41, Sam Adams, 54, Thomas Jefferson, 33, George Washington 44, John Jay, 31 and John Hancock, 39.

At 70 Franklin was only beginning his contribution to the birth and defense of the fledgling nation. He spent the next nine years in Europe, tirelessly working to provide financial and material support for the battle and subsequent peace back home. In 1782, he, along with John Jay and John Adams, negotiated The Treaty of Peace with Great Britain.

In 1785 he made his last voyage home. However he still wasn't done with his contributions.  In 1787, he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, as well servings as delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

As we all contemplate the aging process and where we fit in the scheme of things, we might stop and once again take a very hard look at the old Ben Franklin. We can't be him, nor can we duplicate his achievements, but we certainly can try to think as he did about the seasons of life, and learn from his approach to all aspects of our lives.