More Than Money
Issue #32

Passing the Torch: The Great Wealth Transfer

Table of Contents


Benjamin Franklin By Edmund S. Morgan
(Yale University Press, 2002)

Reviewed by Bob Kenny and Mara Peluso

In this engaging biography, author Edmund S. Morgan paints a vivid picture of one of America’s greatest minds and influential figures. Because Morgan’s research material consisted primarily of the volumes of letters written to and from Franklin, readers are afforded exceptional insight into Franklin’s private thoughts and deeply held ideals. Surprising in some of its revelations (e.g., of all the adjectives used to describe Benjamin Franklin, the words “humble” and “athletic” may not typically come to mind, but they will after reading this book), the book also chronicles more well-known aspects of Franklin’s life—including his founding role in establishing the country’s first fire department, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philosophical Society; his positions as the country’s first postmaster and first president of the Quaker anti-slave society; and his status as a world-renowned scientist.
   Franklin believed that, “The use of Money is all the Advantage there is in having Money.” Had he not retired at 42, he could have easily become the richest man in America. But as Franklin himself explains, “I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich.” The remainder of Franklin’s life was devoted to public service, which he offered not out of obligation, but because it was his passion. Morgan also helps us to understand that what distinguished Franklin, beyond his incredible scientific mind and devotion to public service, was his commitment to living a virtuous, moral life. This commitment explains Franklin’s remarkable ability to overlook his own wishes in order to help support what he thought were the most realistic means to achieve the good for all.
   This is a great read about a brilliant, wealthy, charming, optimistic, virtuous and tenacious bon vivant who lived life to its fullest and was admirable for his ability to evolve as a person, to continually learn, to admit where he was wrong, and to take action to remedy his mistakes. For More Than Money Journal readers, Dr. Benjamin Franklin is an inspiration, a role model, and a bold challenge to pursue our dedication to the public good.

© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved