Benjamin Franklin

On this date in 1706, Benjamin Franklin was born. The Boston-born printer, publisher, inventor, author, aphorist and statesman quit the Presbyterian Church in 1734, according to his Autobiography. Franklin was a Deist in the mode of the Enlightenment, retaining only a belief in a god and future life. After the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had been underway for a month, the octogenarian Franklin suggested that the so-far secular convention conduct a prayer. Records show that Franklin's proposal created polite embarrassment, and that the convention adjourned without any vote on the motion. Franklin was part of a distinguished committee, including Adams and Jefferson, which adopted the United States' secular motto, "E Pluribus Unum" (From many, [come] one). At one point, the pragmatic Franklin suggested currency contain the phrase "Mind your business." Franklin’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, noted about in incident in 1757: :"Also during the crossing, his ship narrowly avoided being wrecked on the Scilly Isles when it sought to evade French privateers in the fog. Franklin described his grateful reaction in a letter home to his wife. 'Were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint,' he wrote. 'But as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a lighthouse.’ (Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, p. 175). D. 1790.

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

—Benjamin Franklin, Works, Vol. XIII, p. 506

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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