|When Franklin was about twenty-one years
old, he wrote his own epitaph:
The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents Torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author.
Although Franklin ultimately chose a much simpler phrase on his tombstone, these eloquent words still ring true. Today, Benjamin Franklin does appear in a "New and More Elegant Edition", for he exists in our minds and hearts. We honor the venerable Philadelphian and remember him fondly for his relentless pursuit of knowledge and justice. His determination and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds inspires us all, giving Benjamin Franklin new life in the modern world. As the French Baron Anne-Robert Turgot said, Benjamin Franklin "snatched the lightning from the heavens, the scepter from tyrants." What more could any man, let alone the son of a colonial tradesman, ever hope to accomplish?
Indeed, Benjamin Franklin was truly
the enlightened American.