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The Way to Wealth

The Way to Wealth is an essay written by Benjamin Franklin in 1758. It is a collection of adages and advice presented in Poor Richard’s Almanac during its first 25 years of publication, organized into a speech given by “Father Abraham” to a group of people. Many of the phrases Father Abraham quotes continue to be familiar today. The essay’s advice is based on the themes of work ethic and frugality. Some phrases from the almanac quoted in The Way to Wealth include: • “There are no gains, without pains” • “One today is worth two tomorrows” • “A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things” • “Get what you can, and what you get hold” • “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright” • “Have you somewhat to do tomorrow, do it today” • “The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands” • “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” • “For want of a nail…”. Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and a university. Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.” To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

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