Benjamin Franklin Man of Intellect and Journal Writer

If you thought that Benjamin Franklin was only a statesman, philosopher, musician, printer, scientist, author, ambassador, diplomat, postmaster, governor, librarian, economist and inventor then you may not realize he was also a journal writer.

Journal of a Voyage

Franklin kept a journal during one of his many trips made on a ship. He was traveling from London to Philadelphia,  (which took 82 days to complete) when he penned a journal filled with intriguing information about his life as well as his take on the life aboard ship.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin . . .

Some of his daily entries were quite lengthy while others were no more than a one sentence report concerning the wind and weather conditions. From reading his journal I discovered the following list of conversation starters. All of these items could begin with, “Did you know that Benjamin Franklin –

  • loved playing checkers
  • had a bit of misfortune while stealing a boat
  • helped hang a man (sorta)
  • shunned the same man after the “hanging”
  • eventually took that man back into his circle of companions
  • watched flying fish
  • swam with dolphins
  • played cards
  • speared, caught and ate dolphins
  • saw a brilliant rainbow during the night, caused by the moon
  • expressed thoughts concerning isolation
  • passed along a folk tail about why artists rendered dolphins as ugly
  • explained the making of bait with a candle and two feathers
  • witnessed a partial eclipse of the sun
  • described his heart-fluttering joy at seeing another ship and its passengers after many days at sea
  • witnessed the steward of his ship being whipped for using too much flour in the puddings and “other offences” (which Franklin did not list)
  • watched a moon eclipse
  • upon finally being told land was near, poetically describes his reaction with, “I could not discern it so soon as the rest; my eyes were dimmed with the suffusion of two small drops of joy.”

Benjamin Franklin the real person

Reading the transcription of this journal is, what can I say, downright enjoyable as well as enlightening. Far from being some odd, round fellow with printer’s ink on his hands and lightening on his mind, Franklin comes alive as a real person, in a real place with real people surrounding him. 

A remarkable man

When you take a few minutes to read the journal of this remarkable young man you may be surprised to find that at the time he penned it he was only 20 years old and almost 50 more years would pass before he became involved in the American Revolution.

Opening image courtesy of  The Franklin Institute

As a lover of words, pens, paper and the dictionary I'm a natural for journal writing. But, I wasn't always faithful to the task and had to learn the hard way. Some trial and error as well as input from my journal writing friends helped move me along. I have a burning desire to help people who want to use and get the most out of their journals and diaries. I see journal writing as a self improvement tool and a way to avoid costly mistakes, bad relationships and my stinky-self. Finding my kindly self is part of the journey which keeps me writing. I Journalate and so can you.

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