“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
FULL DISCLOSURE ABOUT BEN FRANKLIN:
Yes, Franklin did own slaves. Up to seven, in fact. They were initially uneducated, which enabled Franklin to initially believe darker skinned people were more stupid than lighter skinned people, by nature, genetically.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Six of Franklin’s slaves consisted of a father, Peter, his wife, Jemima, and their four sons Othello, George, John and King. Franklin had custody of this family between 1732 and 1781. I can find no records of him breaking up the family by selling any member for profit. As a slave-owner he assumed the responsibility for the well-being of his so-called “property”. He had to “care”.
Perhaps it was due to this caring for Peter, Jemima, Othello, George, John and King that Franklin did something some find hard to do. He changed his mind. In 1758 his friend Samuel Johnson brought him to a school for black children, run by an enlightened soul named Dr. Bray. By the following year Franklin was donating money to the school, and became active in the founding of America’s movement to abolish slavery. In the final year of his life, 1790, he petitioned congress to make plans to abolish slavery.
Think of the changes the man saw and physically experienced! Franklin was living proof you can teach an old dog new tricks, and had great faith that people besides himself could change, and change for the better, while being pragmatic enough to recognize some hate the idea of others having liberty, and will repress others to enjoy a sort of liberty in their own lives (which is not true liberty).
Franklin is so crucial to the establishment of the United States it makes me wonder who his teachers were. Those teachers deserve honor and praise, and I think six of them were Peter, Jemima, Othello, George, John and King.