Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Statesman, author, scientist, and printer. He served as a diplomat to France and England. Governor of Pennsylvania, founder of the University of Pennsylvania, signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
“It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
In his autobiography about the effects of George Whitefield’s ministry.
“Your frequently repeated Wishes and Prayers for my Eternal as well as temporal Happiness are very obliging. I can only thank you for them, and offer you mine as well.”
In letter to George Whitefield, 1764.
A bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district – all studied and appreciated as they merit – are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
In a letter, April 1787.
“A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know the price of the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved.”
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages… I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
In speech before the Continental Congress on June 28, 1787.
Like the cover of an old book,
Its contents torn out,
And stripped of its lettering and gilding
Lies here, food for worms;
Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
For it will (as he believed) appear once more,
In a new,
And more beautiful edition,
Corrected and amended
By the AUTHOR”
Engraved on his epitaph, which he wrote.