In the early 1730s, majority of people in America had very little or no means of reading books. Benjamin Franklin noticed the necessity to increase the reading of books and decided to open a public library. Benjamin reached out to some of his colleagues and they all agreed to bring forty shillings each for a start. They also agreed to increase the initial amount by 10 shillings each year for the next fifty years. This they concluded will provide and cater for the purchase of new books and also for the upkeep and maintenance of the public library. I drew up proposals, got them put into form by our great scrivener Brocken, and by the help of my friends in the Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shilling each to begin with, and ten shillings a year for fifty years, the term our company was to continue. (FRANKLIN, P.126).
They started by gathering all their available books and stocking them all in one room they rented with equal access to all the members. That way anyone of the members could borrow any book he whishes to read back to his home and return it to the library after reading it. The process was very successful and that made them draw up an Article of agreement they agreed to all contribute some form of initial payment to enable them purchase more books. They also agreed to maintain a payment annually for maintenance and more purchases of books. The public library idea was very successful and embraced by all the people in community and even spread out to neighboring towns. With very little alternative options for entertainment, most of the people decided to indulge in reading of books. This eventually brought them to a level of enlightenment and intelligence from reading all the different variety of books. As a result, most of the people in a America, including the traders and even farmers became well knowledgeable and educated. This of course also included Benjamin Franklin himself.
Benjamin Franklin had always wanted to live a very virtuous life and to as much good as possible. I tried always to avoid the wrong things. (FRANKLIN, P.146). As a result of this godly nature he sought, Benjamin made a collection of thirteen principles, which he tried to abide by on a daily basis. HE felt that this would help him to achieve his aim of living a just life. He carried with him a small book where he wrote down all or any of the things he did in a day that was contrary to his thirteen principles. His plan entailed him carrying out one of the virtues per day and he even further broke it down to per hour in a day.
Thus for every hour he had a detail of what to do at that point.
It was not easy for Franklin to keep to his virtues but with much persistence, he eventually succeeded. This article therefore cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexes me so much that I was almost ready to give up the attempt and content myself with faulty character in that respect. (FRANKLIN, P.146). Prior to Franklin writing up his virtues, he was already unconsciously practicing that life. There was an instance where he threw his friend Collins out of the boat they were inside. This was not because he was trying to be wicked; on the contrary it was because he was trying to avoid an argument that was building up between them. With this action, he was able to avoid and prevent him losing his temper and probably doing something he will regret eventually. He also knew that Collins was a very good swimmer and could easily swim to the shore. In his autobiography, Franklin used a speckled axe is best to explain on how to maintain and cultivate good virtues and also develop good habits. He was certain in his opinion that instead of being bad in this world and hurting others, it is much better and beneficial to be of good virtue and moral.
It is very clear that Franklin was not a religious man. Despite the fact that his father was a clergy he had a Christian educational background, which did not make him religious in his daily practice. It is not to say that he did not believe in God not disrespect the church in his days. He just did not reconcile with their principles, doctrines and practices. And though some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful. (FRANKLIN, P.126). Benjamin Franklin always tried to educate himself and learn new things whenever he had the opportunity to do so. And I early absented myself from public assemblies of the Sect, Sunday being my studying day. (FRANKLIN, P.126).
Benjamin Franklin strongly believed that the way of showing his obedience to God was by assisting the less privileged in the society and by living a good life himself. He believed that every action had a consequential result at the end. He did not give any preferential treatment to any religion. He noted them as all the same and treated the members with mutual recognition. However, he had different degrees of respect. He had very little respect for the religions that encouraged or promoted division among the people.
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