Benjamin Franklin – A True Man and Mason?

This is the first short op-ed piece where I dissect the “Great” men of the world, and hopefully, detail what they did to earn that title. I will try to keep it brief and positive, but the World’s views on Great Men differ quite a bit in comparison to the statutes of the True Man.

To begin, we will look at Benjamin Franklin. He’s a scholar, an inventor, a free-thinker, a signer of our constitution, and one of those men who has been long lauded as a “good soul.” A person can find all sorts of information on Mr. Franklin throughout the Internet, in libraries, and in lectures. I’ve read his autobiography which I’ll use to base this evaluation from as it seems to me that his words are some of the most insightful into his persona.

So, let’s cover the negative aspects that I believe would exclude a person from being called a True Man and Mason. Three items that I can think of off-hand that would be considered strikes against Brother Franklin:

  1. Benjamin Franklin was a known womanizer.
  2. He often drank heavily.
  3. He was, for a good portion of his younger years, an arrogant fellow.

Not too bad a rap sheet really but certainly not Masonic and definitely not appropriate behavior for a True Man. To elaborate, Franklin did eventually get his womanizing under control when he married Ms. Reed. Before that, he admits to having acted on interest in his good friend’s romantic partner, and to engaging with women of ill-repute. However, Ms. Reed eventually set him on the right path (or if you are to believe Franklin, he decided to correct his path through his 13 Virtues). Either way, you look at it, Franklin suffered from gout for a good portion of his life because of his philandering. To be frank (no pun intended…well, all right. Maybe a little) his life—though accomplished—didn’t start to reflect the proper inclinations towards being a True Man and Mason until he developed his 13 Virtues. And though he always struggled with temperance, he tried his hardest to continue his self-improvement.

On that note, let’s review the aspects that count toward Franklin’s status of a True Man and Mason:

  • Benjamin Franklin was continually working to improve his community.
  • He was always in a philosophical debate to keep his mind sharp.
  • He sought to print the truth against the favorable opinions of many an established man.
  • He developed the 13 Virtues by which a fellow may strive to become a Man.
  • He aided in the establishment of public libraries.
  • He was a significant contributor to the furthering of electrical technologies within the States.
  • He believed in God (though he rarely attended church, he was a great supporter of the idea of a supreme being).
  • He founded many organizations in which a man could further develop his mind.
  • He helped found the constitutional rights of this great nation.
  • He was a patriot!

As we can see, there are a few more positives than negatives. So, think about the good that Brother Franklin did and see if we can’t work some of those ideas into our daily lives.

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