There is a saying among beer lovers–“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”–which many believe was said by Benjamin Franklin; however, they would be mistaken.
Although a fan of beer, Franklin preferred to find love and happiness in wine. A letter to a French friend of his is where the common misconception originated. In 1779, Franklin wrote to André Morellet:
We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!
So alas, the proof and truth is in the wine, not beer.
On the 13th of August in 1772, under a pseudonym of Silence Dogood, Benjamin Franklin points out in his tenth letter to the author of the New England Courant that often times women live good lives, are “bred well, and liv’d well” but are ruined when they get married and their husbands die leaving them with little to nothing except children to take care of. To prevent their husbands’ deaths from altering their way of life in a negative way, Franklin proposes the idea of opening a service or office called “An Office of Ensurance for Widows” that would allow around 2000 women to subscribe to a service where they would pay a sum each month or quarter that would then turn into a larger sum these widows would receive within six months of their husband’s death. However, if a woman’s husband leaves her with an amount of 2000 l. after all debts have been paid, she could not claim the money because the whole idea of this organization is to “aid the poor, not add to the rich” as Franklin puts it.
This, I believe, is the premise he wants to establish this service on. Franklin would like this “Office of Ensurance to Widows” to act as an aid to those in need and not be a way for the rich to become richer. This organization for women with deceased husbands, in a larger sense, is a way that could bring about happiness and for men to “help another, without any disservice to himself.” The thing that I take away from this essay is the fact that even if “an office of ensurance for widows” is not opened, we should still be kind, willingly help others, and ask nothing in return. The last sentence that Ben Franklin writes in the tenth letter of Silence Dogood is, “For my own Part, I have nothing left to live on, but Contentment and a few Cows; and tho’ I cannot expect to be reliev’d by this Project, yet it would be no small Satisfaction to me to see it put in Practice for the Benefit of others.” Even though he has not much to give, he is still willing to see it succeed not to help himself, but to help others.
In 1706, on Milk Street right here in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, who was the youngest son out of seventeen children, was born to Josiah and Abiah Franklin. While the actual building burned down in a fire in 1811, a statue of Franklin’s head was placed to commemorate the birthplace of a person who would grow up to play such an important role in American History. Although Franklin would eventually journey to Philadelphia and contribute to history there, One Milk Street will remain a significant starting point to Franklin’s life.