Wednesday, December 19

Poor Richard, the Guy had No Talents

Image = American History Now
By Art Cashin

On this day in 1732, a 26-year-old Bostonian transplant, living in Philadelphia published a helpful calendar and counselor, which he called "Poor Richard's Almanac."  The publication, containing pithy wisdoms like - "Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" - or (Washington, D.C.'s favorite), "A penny saved is a penny earned" - became an instant success in the colonies.

The revenues allowed Benjamin Franklin to retire at age 42.  Since golf was not available in the neighborhood, he squandered his remaining years by discovering electricity, inventing the lightning rod, the iron stove, bifocals and the glass harmonica.  The next week he developed still-standing theories on meteorology, heat absorption, electricity, and ocean currents.

In his spare time he founded the first insurance company, fire department, public hospital, public library, night patrol and  first militia.  Seeking a break he became colonial postmaster and civil defense chief for the French and Indian War.

Tiring, he was chief delegate at the Albany conference, which organized the colonies and then was appointed chief negotiator with the British crown in London. When negotiations failed he returned home to help draft, and then pass the Declaration of Independence.

He was then sent to Paris where he won the support of the French, which event won the Revolution for the colonies.  He returned home and helped draft and again pass the Constitution of the new nation. After that he did little that was important aside from a few inventions and a couple of immortal publications.

To celebrate take a high school graduate out for a flagon of ale and explain the team concept, consensus thinking and why little can be accomplished by one man alone.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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