Benjamin Franklin

He helped Adam Smith write The Wealth of Nations. He discovered the Gulf Stream. He started the first public libraries, fire departments and canals in America. He invented bifocals and a heating system that more than quadrupled the energy efficiency of thousands of American homes.

He was a coauthor of the Declaration of Independence and he was responsible for bringing French assistance to the American revolutionaries, which was decisive in winning the war with Britain. And he helped draft the American Constitution that has lasted lo these many years.

Not only that, he invented a musical instrument, the glass armonica, for which Mozart wrote a piece of music.

Add to that his discovery of the conductivity of electricity and his invaluable maxims: “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “Early to bed, early to rise, etc. etc.” “A fool and his money are soon parted,” and many others, and you have one of the most remarkable individuals who ever walked the Earth, Benjamin Franklin.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be ordained by God…”

Franklin said, “You know, the Almighty is awfully busy. Let’s not drag Him into this. Let’s just say, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident…'”

A nifty turn of phrase, you must admit, and Jefferson took it from there. Lincoln took it further still, and Martin Luther King brought it ever closer to realization.