#1203 Benjamin Franklin's Visit

President Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson, is joined in conversation by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin is portrayed by GregRobin Smith, a history scholar, author, actor, and educator. Smith was invited to Bismarck by the North Dakota Humanities Council to speak, as Franklin, at the GameChanger Ideas Festival.

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You can find GregRobin Smith online at ben-franklin.org.

GregRobin Smith. Photo by Makoché Studios.

Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson:

There were two individuals in my world that I looked up to from a very distant plateau. Two of the greatest men, in my view, who ever lived: one was George Washington and the other was Benjamin Franklin. I can't put myself into the same equation with either of them with any sense of equanimity.

GregRobin Smith with his whistle. Photo by Makoché Studios.

I hate waste, Sir. I hate waste in anything — and especially that of a mind.
— Benjamin Franklin, as portrayed by GregRobin Smith
Clay S. Jenkinson & GregRobin Smith. Photo by Makoché Studios.

Clay S. Jenkinson & GregRobin Smith. Photo by Makoché Studios.

Clay S. Jenkinson & GregRobin Smith. Photo by Makoché Studios.

Clay S. Jenkinson & GregRobin Smith. Photo by Makoché Studios.

Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson:

When I arrived at the Second Continental Congress, I was 33 years old and Dr. Franklin was fully a generation older than I was and he was famous. He was well-known for Poor Richard's Almanac, for his scientific experiments, for his creation of a voluntary fire department and a circulating library. He was also known for his diplomatic work. He had already spent a good deal of time in Great Britain trying to sort things out between us and the home country. He had a reputation that was cosmopolitan and extraordinary and at that time, I was an unknown person — a young man from Virginia, exceedingly shy.

Benjamin Franklin. Image from New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing. 
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation. 
  11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. 
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

1776 Club: Franklin & His Whistle

Listen in as GregRobin Smith plays, and speaks about, his penny whistle.

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What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?

I must say, I’m not much in favor of intellectual ownership & property.
— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

Tune in to your local public radio or join the 1776 Club to hear this episode of What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?

Further Reading

More from the Thomas Jefferson Hour