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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Benjamin Franklin?

Asked at Checkers Foods, 2300 La. on December 17, 2004

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Photo of Patrick Larabee

“That he discovered electricity with the kite and key.”

Photo of Steve Pelot

“He is one of the founding fathers of our county.”

Photo of Sally Young

“I think of kites. I know that’s terrible, but that’s the first thing I always think of.”

Photo of Linda Buckner

“Money. He’s on the $100 bill. I think money, money, money.”


Au_contraire 13 years, 6 months ago

Well he sure didn't have to worry about going out and wrapping his car around a tree.

Larry 13 years, 6 months ago

davidryan -

Consider these words from George Washington, the Father of our Nation, in his farewell speech on September 19, 1796: "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Was George Washington a Christian? Consider these words from his personal prayer book: "Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thy son, Jesus Christ."

Consider these words by John Adams, our second president, who also served as chairman of the American Bible Society.

In an address to military leaders he said, "We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was the sixth U.S. President. He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role. On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."

Lastly - Ben Franklin, the man of the day in the L.J. World, delivered a speech at the 1787 Constitutional Convention and stated, "I therefore beg leave to move---that henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

Don't you think that if these founding fathers would have wanted a society based on the liberal definition of separation of church and state, they never would have made these statements? Doesn't common sense tell us that our founding fathers would have put a stop to any reference of any God at the federal and state government level hadd they agreed with the liberal definition of separation of church and state? Of course they would have! However, that wasn't their concern. Earlier Americans didn't want freedom from religion, they wanted FREEDOM OF RELIGION.

craigers 13 years, 6 months ago

I think of that old America's eyeglass commercial where he is flying the kite and the kite gets struck by lightning, then the glasses fly off and that is what they focus on. It was a great commercial.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 13 years, 6 months ago

I think of how he modernized the US postal service.

David Ryan 13 years, 6 months ago

A member of the founding generation who would've been the 2d President of the United States had he not been born a little too early.

Next to Washinton, Franklin did more for the independence of America than nearly anyone else.

Likely were Mr. Franklin to visit the United States today he would be appalled and sickened by religious fanatics trying to stamp and impose their unknowing, anti-Science, bigoted nastiness upon fellow Americans in defiance of the First Amendment. He would also consider, I bet, the Patriot Act to be the kind of thing a Tyranny would engage in.

He's the one who said "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Benjamin Franklin -- like the rest of the founding generation -- was a liberal, and for that I'm proud.

(Likely President Bush's crowd would consider Franklin a traitor and a helper of terrorism for daring to suggest that giving up freedoms -- i.e, succumbing to the Patriot Act -- was anti-American and anti-freedom.)

He's a far, far better American than any of the Republican gang currently degrading the White House.

badger 13 years, 6 months ago

Well, davidryan, Franklin and the rest of the founding fathers technically were traitors and rebels.

They rose up in unlawful opposition to their own government and engaged in armed resistance to that government's authority. That's, well, treason.

People kind of overlook the treason because they were successful. I happen to personally believe that they were right, and to suscribe to the the ideal that it is the duty of good, just, and righteous men and women to rise against tyranny when they have no legal means to address it, but it is still treason, and high treason at that.

Don't be so quick to claim labels for them, either. They were neither 'liberals' nor 'conservatives' by modern standards. They were radicals, but deeply divided on issues like federal control of commerce, slavery, and even whether they would be a formal union or a loose confederation of sovereign states.

I think that if either the right or the left 'claims' the founding fathers entire, it demonstrates a serious lack of understanding about the diversity of that group and the conflicts that almost rendered it completely ineffectual.

When I think of Franklin, personally, I think of traditional definitions of the classical genius; often unstable and guided by its own moral compass, it treads ahead of the intellectual progress of the mass of humanity. Franklin was a hedonist and a womanizer, and his scandals were legendary. He epitomized the Age of Reason with brilliant progress and massive intellectual gain, but a tendency to make rash personal choices and be generally unstable.

jayhawktownie 13 years, 6 months ago

ridiculous how people can find a way to argue and name-call, even on a question like this one.

Bad_Brad 13 years, 6 months ago

I'm with the pants presser. The first thing I thought of was the $100 bill. I guess I can understand how, as a pants presser, you would be concerned about yo bling bling. Dolla' dolla' bill, y'all!

David Ryan 13 years, 6 months ago

I never said Kerry would be President. Only that Bush had demonstrably failed -- which we are seeing day after day -- and that Bush's being President was a sure sign that America is doomed.

Bad_Brad 13 years, 6 months ago

townie - some people view the whole world through a partisan political lens. Must be a really sad and depressing way to live.

Liberty 13 years, 6 months ago

The reply of Badger is a well thought out one.

However, the people of that day had an understanding of God that the people of this day seriously lack. The people that founded this nation understood that their freedoms came from God and not from Government. (Because God is subject to no other authority and is not a slave of man). The founding fathers understood that "resistance to tyranny is obedience to God" (because God sets up only good governments to uphold that which is correct and good and to punish that which is bad; the purpose of government is to defend our country and uphold the rights that come from God that keep the people free; (enumerated in the Bill of Rights).

When government stops doing what God intended for them to do as a good government, then they should be punished and corrected. (Stated in the Declaration of Independence) which was our first Constitution.

Government is not superior to the Church, it is under the Church and the people (in pecking order). Therefore, government governs by the consent of the people and not the reverse.

The Structure:

God created man and the group of believers that believes in the Son of God that died for their sins called the Church. This group of men (founding fathers of this country) then created the Constitution which is the process that created the government. Then government created corporations. This is the order of creation and the order of authority that comes from God and not from man.

The founding fathers knew that the reason for the existence of government by men was to secure the rights of the people that come from God (to freely believe what you will and the Church was a teaching instrument above government that preached Jesus Christ and recognized God and the freedom to be of any religion, but believing that no other religion will hold up to the truth of Jesus Christ under reasonable truthful debate). The people of this day have very little respect or knowledge of God today and instantly condemn that which they do not understand and have forgotten because they are not taught this anymore in the public schools (or Church) which have removed God from their teaching to dumb down the people for slavery to the beast system. The Church of today has reduced itself to worship of the State by incorporating and being a 501c3 (making government their authority instead of God). The main Churches are now State controlled because they have made government their god, instead of trusting in God by faith through Jesus Christ. Even Ben Franklin understood this. Most people of today don't have a clue unless they rediscover this concept. There can be no freedom in this country without recognizing the authority of God.

David Ryan 13 years, 6 months ago

The founding fathers were Diests, not born again Jesus-heads.

To suggest otherwise is simply to not know history.

Stalin would be amazed and proud that some fundamentalist, anti-Science freaks can rewrite history to such a degree, like they used to in the Soviet Union.

badger 13 years, 6 months ago


Mountain lions at Hy-Vee?

Is this some inside joke-thing?

Haymaker 13 years, 6 months ago

Ben Franklin had great touch around the basket for a big man, and could take his man in the post and off the dribble. Played tremendous defense and led his team to a championship. Ben Wallace is the one that flew the kite with the key and all that crap, you idiots.

badger 13 years, 6 months ago

Davidryan, that's an old argument.

Whether you say 'Deist' or 'Christian' or 'Protestant', the truth is that they all very much recognized the existence of a Divine, and that said Divine generally took the form of the Judeo-Christian God Jehovah from the Christian Bible.

Perhaps it might be sensible to stop arguing over the specific denominations and spiritualities of people who've met whatever Maker they believed in a couple centuries ago. I might suggest you turn your attentions to the following thought:

Yes, the founding fathers were all essentially Christian. They were also all white male landowners of British birth. Nonetheless, they constructed a form of government that, if properly followed, allows people who are neither Christian nor white male landowners of British birth to enjoy the rights and freedoms of the land. What say, instead of poking the Christians, you just work on encouraging the idea that just as the definition of a citizen worthy of rights and a voice in determining the nature of government has expanded to include people who are not white, or male, or landowners, it should also be expanded to include the multiple faiths of the people who now inhabit this country?

It's more productive to make sure that Buddhists and Muslims and pagans and atheists have a voice, than it is to just use your voice to yell about how much of a voice the Christians have.

kansas 13 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of mountain lion sightings in Lawrence..... I haven't heard anything more about that in quite a while. You don't suppose it got hit by car or something, do you? I hope not!

ike0000 13 years, 6 months ago

Whats the first thing that comes to mind when you see the picture of the first guy (Patrick Larabee)? I thought of the Statue of Liberty. Not sure why....

BunE 13 years, 6 months ago

Ben Franklin makes me think of science and reason.

Hey, what is "essentially christian" ? Are those those the people who pay lip service to the Christian Myth to hedge their bets? Or is that a lable to try and legitimize the current jesus-centric climate that is so popular in the US right now... You know, bring up the founding fathers, lable them as christians so that the movement sounds legit?

Oh well, this latest burst of evangelical christian emotionalism will pass soon enough. It always does.

badger 13 years, 6 months ago

By 'essentially Christian' I mean that most of the founding fathers did not generally self-identify as 'Christian,' nor did they habitually bring specific Christian teachings into their writings and discussions regarding the divine influence on the human condition. However, the majority of the founding fathers, if not all, openly discussed faith in the God of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and would publicly acknowledge the divinity of Christ.

That's where the Deist/Christian debate gets confusing and muddled, and why it's not particularly useful in determining how the Constitution should apply to matters of faith.

It shouldn't matter what faith they were, merely that the Constitution bars government from making laws that prevent the free exercise of one's faith, and that the government, according to the principles of separation of church and state, should not mandate or promote practice in one faith over another, nor should it favor practitioners of one faith or another when it comes to rights or liberties.

mrcairo 13 years, 6 months ago

I find myself standing next to davidryan:

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

beans 13 years, 6 months ago

the america's best commercial for glasses.

acg 13 years, 6 months ago

Ben Franklin? I think of invention, electricity, founding of the nation, history, history lectures, sleeping in history class, money, skullets and kites. This has been the crappiest week ever. I need a drink!

nicegirl 13 years, 6 months ago

In my hometown we used to have this little craft store (like a really small Hobby Lobby or Michael's) that was called Ben Franklin's. My grandma used to take me there and buy yarn. That is what I think of.

wichita_reader 13 years, 6 months ago

In addition to the cheesy eyeglass commercial and the $100 bill, the thought of Benjamin Franklin has always conjured up the man whose portrait appears on the Quaker Oats oatmeal container.

Consumer1: If I am still on this earth when he passes, I will be at David Ryan's funeral, and can assure you I will have much more to think, and say, than "he sure couldn't pick a presidential candidate."

twiggle 13 years, 6 months ago

The first lending public library!!!


Adam 13 years, 6 months ago

Never understimate the power of a fat drunkard

Adam 13 years, 6 months ago

Also consider that George Washington really wasn't a great president, nor was he a great military leader, american folklore has greatly embellished his image. If you know history, you'll know he was far less a significant figure than he is portrayed as. If anyone was to be considered the "father of our country" it should be Jefferson, Hamilton, Henry, maybe even Samuel Adams, but assuredly not Washington.

Larry 13 years, 6 months ago

Adam -

So now that we begin to pull out quotes from our Christian founding fathers, all the liberals start bashing them and changing their tune. Maybe it has more to do with his first and last initial. GW. The guy was a leader of men at battle in the war against England.

It seems to me that as long as readers believe all the hogwash written above about our founding fathers not being Christian men - it is okay to view them as great leaders who knew exactly what they were doing in making this great country free from all religion. Then when Christian quotes are introduced, they are bad men and bad leaders. I'm sorry, but I have to do this. FLIP-FLOP-FLIP-FLOP-FLIP-FLOP. This is exactly why the democrats need to distances themselves from the far left.

Grundoon Luna 13 years, 6 months ago

Geroge Washington: another huge pot farmer. While many of our founding fathers were Christians, many were also Free Masons, or both, whose members promoted religious tolerance. Larry, "free from all religion" is a major misrepresentation of the belief of people who think that one religion shouldn't be allowed to force their beliefs down the throat of the rest of the population, an idea the founding fathers embraces (ever heard of the tyranny of the majority?). Here's another quote from a founding father, Thomas Jefferson - also a philanderer, but here we go: "IT DOES ME NO INJURY FOR MY NEIGHBOR TO SAY THAT THERE IS NO GOD OR TWENTY GODS. IT NEITHER PICKS MY POCKET OR BREAKS MY LEG."

Sure our founding fathers did some things that put a few chinks in their armor - like bringing the Jews to New Amsterdam to set up the economic system as money was considered evil while failing to see the duplicity in that logic, but they set the platform for all from a wide variety of faiths to enjoy equal freedoms. To promote the idea that the founding fathers were all Christians whose intent was for all of us to be Christian followers is just not true. They were fully aware of the crusades, the buring times/witch hysteria, and the persecution of other Christians not in the then mainstream (my own Menonite ancestors were burned at the stake for being heretics before the survivors fled Switzerland, untimalte buying their land grant directly from William Penn). They saw and understood the injustice of these acts and created a system that would prevent such oppression in the new land. For all their warts and farts, I think they still managed to forge a great ideal, and, Goddess willing, the current regiem will be prevented from undoing it.

As for Ben Franklin, I think of Libraries and the postal service.

Now it's off to do holiday baking. Yes, a pagan woman does holiday baking. Remember, it was Yule first, be we can share our holiday. Spread the love!

Larry 13 years, 6 months ago


The holiday name is CHRISTmas. At any rate, I appreciate your points. Well thought out and I enjoy the debate. However, my point was freedom of religion which means that all Americans have the right to mention God, pray to God, and acknowledge God regardless of the situation or who happens to employ them.

The quote from Thomas Jefferson does nothing to convince me that our government shouldn't allow In God We Trust on our money or have the 10 commandments posted on government property. These things were there when our founding fathers were in office. Had their intention been to not mix government with religion, they would have acted at that time. They didn't so that is all the proof I need. The quote from Jefferson simply means that he believed that the government cannot FORCE citizens to believe in a God, PERIOD! Even if the government believes and/or the vast majority of the people. I think the 2004 election have proven that a majority of Americans are believers.

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