Hôtel de Valentinois

Ben’s home for almost the entire time that he was in France was the home of Jacques and Marie-Thérèse Leray in Passy.  He was an aristocrat and prominent businessman with connections to the Court of King Louis XVI. She was from a noble background, mother of their five children, and homemaker at the estate.  They…

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Fun history from Vox

A recent Vox video illustrates many of the historical points raised in The Wisdom of the Flock. There are a couple of historical inaccuracies but generally great information and a fun, well made video. I thought that I would share the link in case you are interested:  

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Why do we stereotype historical characters?

Historical characters often seem “one-dimensional” like cardboard cutouts. In addition to Ben, we tend to carry and perpetuate oversimplified and often incorrect stereotypes of many historical persons. This post explores some common misconceptions and the reasons why. We have already discussed in a prior post the stereotype of Ben Franklin as the “wise, corpulent, gouty…

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There is so much that we don't know

Allegories

Allegory is the expression of truths or generalizations about human existence by means of symbolic fictional figures, places or events.Many readers have asked me about the allegories used in The Wisdom of the Flock. The Featured image for this post is entitled “Unsolved Mystery”. It is by Marina Terauds. Marina was gracious enough to agree…

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Portraits of other characters in TWOTF Part 2

Continued from Part 1 Madame Helvétius was officially named Anne-Catherine de Ligniville. Her married name was Helvétius. But everyone (including Ben) called her Minette. This portrait by Louis-Michel van Loo does not have a clearly established date, but most likely pre-dates Franklin’s time in France. Here is a reproduction of a miniature of her (also younger): And…

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How old was Ben?

Ben was born on January 17th, 1706 – or was he? According to most history books, Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17th, 1706 in Boston. However, you will sometimes see this birthdate with the addendum of N.S. or New Style. What does that mean?  Well, there was a change from the (old) Julian calendar…

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Stereotypes of Ben

It’s natural to think of “olden times” as being less colorful and alive than our current age. When we think of people from the 1700’s (or any prior era for that matter), they seem to us to live in monotone black and white, without the complexity or vibrancy of present day figures. Compounding that bias…

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franklin drawing electricity

Portraits of Ben Franklin

Portraits of Ben Franklin   We are all familiar with Ben’s portrait on the 100-dollar bill: This image comes from a H.B. Hall engraving of the Joseph-Siffred Duplessis portrait of an older Benjamin Franklin – and has been used on the $100 bill from 1996 onward. But Franklin was also one of the most recognizable…

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