Heroes: Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin may be the most recognized name in United States history.
He smiles to us on $100 bills; many towns and cities are his namesake.
He was apprenticed as a printer when he was 12; in a few years, he published the Pennsylvania Gazette, then Richard's Almanack. Franklin was a lover of words, knew words could form nations.
Franklin was a statesman, inventor, scientist.
He was the dream designer for our country's infrastructure, giving us paved streets and fire departments.
This son of a candle maker was curious, knew how to think outside his comfort zone.
In the early 1700s, books were rare, and only the wealthiest families were able to afford them. Some managed to own a Bible, some lived their entire lifetime without seeing a book.
In July, 1731, Franklin and some friends drew up an agreement to form a library. Fifty people invested forty shillings (two pounds) each, and pledged ten shillings per year to buy more books.
Franklin and fifty people created the greatest service our government provides for its citizenry; free, unlimited use of books!
Buildings of books that are ours to consume, books that can take you from darkest Africa to beneath the ice at the South Pole, from Siberia's cruel winds to the balmy sand of Jamaica, from despair to happiness. Books that can instruct on everything from cooking to Christianity. Books that can transport.
Books. Glorious books!
Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it."So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.