Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy 305th Birthday Ben Franklin

It's an interesting coincidence that Benjamin Franklin's 305th birthday falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. It prompted me to look into Franklin's stand on slavery and I came across an interesting item on the National Archives website about this topic. It indicates that although Franklin did not speak out publicly against slavery until late in life, one of his last public acts was to send a petition to Congress seeking an end to the slave trade.

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. Franklin is probably best known in the library community for founding the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. It was America's first lending library and can lay claim to being the predecessor of the free public library. For a brief period (Dec. 1733-Mar. 1734) Franklin actually served as the librarian for the Library Company.  He also served as its secretary from 1746 to 1757.  Franklin considered the Library Company to be the "Mother of all N. American Subscription Libraries ....". Franklin amassed a large personal library which was written about in The Library of Benjamin Franklin by Edwin Wolf 2nd and Kevin J. Hayes (American Philosophical Society and The Library Company of Philadelphia, 2006).
Franklin appeared on the first United States postage stamp (shown above) and has been depicted on more U.S. postage stamps than any other American except George Washington. 

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