Some Wisdom from the Wise—Franklin’s Way to Wealth

American Literature

Benjamin Franklin was so much more than one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an American polymath, a leading author, a printer, a politician, a scientist, an inventor, and many more titles. He is known for his theories on electricity, the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, along with other inventions. He also founded multiple civic organizations, such as the Library Company, the first fire department for Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania. He was known as the “The First American” because of his passion for colonial unity. He was also the first United States Ambassador to France and played a crucial role in defining American virtues. A major part of these virtues was the value of a dollar.

Franklin’s The Way to Wealth is one of his most popular essays. He took popular sayings from his periodical called Poor Richard’s Almanac and connected them with lessons on how to find wealth. Many of the maxims mentioned are still said today; maybe you have heard a few from your parents or grandparents. “Lost time is never found again.” “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” “There are no gains without pains.” Ever heard these? Maybe you have heard, “No pain. No gain.” That derived from Franklin. Crazy to think that the saying you hear every time you go in a gym came from one of the Founding Fathers. I really do not know why I thought that these sayings came from my lifetime, but I was beyond shocked when I read this essay and saw those quotes. It is so crazy to me how these sayings are still around; kind of makes you think about how important your words are.

The speaker, fictional Father Abraham, uses these phrases in order to teach the crowd around him how to become financially successful. Some of these tips include time management is key, motivation gets things done, always balance work-life and home-life, make sure to get a lot of rest, keep going even when times get tough, keep expenses as low as possible, and avoid debt when possible. Finally, he reminds them to always humbly request blessings from God, too. To sum up his advice, work hard, do not take on more than you can, and remember where your blessings come from.

The funny part to me is at the end.

“Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon…”

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

How many times do we listen to advice that we asked for and then go do the opposite? How often do we ask someone for their opinion on something just to do whatever is contrary to what they say? How many Sundays do we go to church but never apply what we learn? How many prayers to God do we petition for a sign of what to do and, when we get an answer, we ignore it because it is not what we wanted?

When God puts wise people in our lives, it must be for a reason. He has something for us to learn and then apply to our lives: it is not meant for us to just go down our Christian checklist and mark off “Went to church on Sunday.” Just imagine how much more we could accomplish in this life if we listened to God’s advice and actually applied it our lives.

4 comments

  • I thought it was very appropriate to give a background on Benjamin Franklin, and your summary of the important elements of the essay was well written. I loved the direction that you took and how you applied the ending of the essay. Overall, the structure of your post was well done, effective, and easy to follow.

  • I really like the end too when he says people do the opposite of what they should like it was a sermon. It’s not good that people ignore what they heard in the sermon, but Franklin knew better than to ignore the fact that it happens.

  • I enjoyed how you used the references to some of our nonchalant sayings today actually steaming from Franklin to further show just how much he influenced us in not only our political and science structure but also our philosophical and societal structures as well. Also, I liked your comparison between the ending of the “Way to Wealth and how a lot of self-proclaimed Christian people act today in their practice of the religion.

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