Archive for October 14th, 2010

Me and Ben

Ben Franklin was born around 1705. When he set out to write his autobiography he was about my age. He set out to write it because, as said, his days were coming to an end.

He died fifteen years later, having been a member of the Constitutional Convention of the government he had helped to found. We all know why he didn’t finish his autobiography himself.

In the early 1770s, when a majority of the population didn’t reach the age of five, Franklin thought it was time for him to describe his life. He had invented the study and terminology of electricity, invented the Franklin Stove, invented bifocals and lightening rods and a number of other things each of which would have made him famous.

He was the only living American elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Ben had negotiated treaties with the Indians and with the Quakers, whom he despised, pretty well dominated Pennsylvania politics and, when he retired from real work, was chosen by four colonies to represent them in London.

Franklin was famous all over America.

But all those things above were his hobbies. He had grown rich as a publisher, he had done most of his own writing.

So when he sat down and took a deep breath in the early 1770s, he had plenty to write about.

But to those of us reading it today, his remark about coming to the end of his labors sound funny as hell.

I am flattered by some people really being concerned about my health when I talk about freezing and being tired. It is important to remember that Old Bob really is and has always been concerned with my race’s survival and in that struggle my own lifetime is not as much a preoccupation with me as it would be with normal folk.

You are important to me because the torch must eventually be passed. To someone obsessed with his own undying fame or being The Leader that would be a secondary concern.

So my talk about my passing is, as Twain said, much exaggerated. Believe me, if my health were bad you would know about it. We have things to do, and whether I am here or not affects the continuation of the fight my whole existence has been devoted to.

But if you want a report on the health of Robert W. Whitaker, Esquire, here it is:

I am healthy as a horse and damned near as smart.