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Studying for a test? Prepare with these 4 lessons on The founding fathers of the United States of America.
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Voiceover: So in the last few videos we've essentially done an overview of Benjamin Franklin's entire life, and if people want to go more in depth, there's a very good biography, which I encourage people to read. Actually it is fascinating. You know just big picture takeaways, what are the lessons from Ben Franklin? Voiceover: Well first of all he was a renaissance man of the enlightenment, which was cool. He loved science as well as writing and the humanities. He was our best scientist, inventor, diplomat. He was a good business strategist. The first rags to riches person. He's also the person who invents, I think, the essential American character, which is being proudly middle class, being proud to be a shop keeper as he put it, a member of the Leather Apron Club who gets up every morning, puts on the leather apron, and helps fellow citizens. He also knew that the backbone of America was going to be a shopkeeping class who formed civic organizations that brought people together. That's why he forms all these things like the libraries and the hospitals and the academies and that sort of thing, and also he has a notion of tolerance. We were very ethnic people in the colonies up until Philadelphia rises, and Philadelphia is the first city that has everything from Anglicans and Moravians and Jews and Quakers and freed slaves and Indians, and Franklin is a shopkeeper who becomes an apostle of tolerance, saying if we help bring people together. and tolerate everybody's beliefs and religions and backgrounds, that's going to be the secret source of America's diversity. You see it throughout his life. You need wonderful passionate people like John and Sam Adams if you're going to have a great country, and you need revered people like George Washington, but you also need the people who say, "Our strength will come from bringing us together, "from our diversity." Over and over again, when he creates a civic organization the motto will be things like, "The good we can do together is greater than all the goods we can do separately." and, "To pull forth benefits for the common good is divine." That's engraved on the hospital. He does his first editorial cartoon called "Join or Die," which was about the colonies. They all have to get together and join or die. When he goes to Albany in the 1750s to bring the colonies together so that they aren't sort of a Catholic colony of Maryland and a Puritan colony of Massachusetts. We're all one country but religiously diverse. Finally I'll go to the end of his life, because it seems symbolic at that time, after he brings people together at the Constitutional Convention and everything else, I realize that during his lifetime, he donated to the building fund of each and every church built in Philadelphia. At one point they were building a new hall during the Great Awakening, when preachers used to ride around America and preach, and they wanted a hall in Philadelphia that a visiting preacher could preach at, and Benjamin Franklin writes a fundraising document. It says, "Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were "to send somebody to preach Islam to us "and to teach us about the prophet Muhammad, "we should offer a pulpit and listen "for we may learn something." Voiceover: This is in 17? Back then, you know. Voiceover: Yes this is in the 1760s, 1770s. He's very religiously tolerant. On his death bed, I looked at the ledgers of this, he's the largest individual contributor to the Mickve Israel Synagogue, the first synagogue built in Philadelphia. So when he dies, instead of his minister accompanying his casket to the grave, all 35 ministers, preachers, and priests of Philadelphia linked arms with the rabbi of the Jews for this huge funeral procession that marched with him to the grave. It was that type of tolerance, freedom, belief that we could all live together despite our different backgrounds that was what they were fighting for, what they created in 1776 and in 1787 when they create the United States, and it is still the essential thing that the United States is fighting for both around the world but also at home to keep that legacy of Ben Franklin alive.