Earlier I thought about Benjamin Franklin and the American Religion. Revisionists try to paint historical figures into something they weren't. In Dr. Franklin's case it seems that part of a letter that he wrote to Ezra Stiles, a month before his death in 1790 is used to paint Dr. Franklin as more of a non believing sort of fellow.
Below is my response to such an article with a transposing of Dr. Franklin's letter, less two additional letters he made mention to. ( If I find a copy of these I will transpose them here as well, or if anyone should have them I would be fascinated to read them."
the article in question can be found at:
Comment as follows:
John Adams wrote,
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be
our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they
cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Even though the above authors have made the attempt to paint Mr. Franklin as non religious, when the full letter to Mr. Stiles is read (in its entirety below) it is clear to anyone reading it that Mr. Franklin is religious and a true Deist in that his relationship between GOD and himself is a private matter.
The part of Mr. Franklin's letter used to claim his non religious views is in bold, when reading the letter prior to and after the quote his creed is clearly stated.
The student should never be satisfied to be fed a perceived reality without seeking out REALITY on their own and then drawing their conclusions based on facts.
Mr. Old Fashioned
Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Ezra Stiles
PHILADELPHIA, March 9, 1790.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR—
I RECEIVED your kind letter of January 28, and am glad you have at
length received the portrait of governor Yale from his family, and
deposited it in the college library. He was a great and good man, and
had the merit of doing infinite service to your country by his
munificence to that institution. The honor you propose doing me, by
placing mine in the same room with his, is much too great for my
deserts; but you always had a partiality for me, and to that it must be
ascribed. I am however too much obliged to Yale College, the first
learned society that took notice of me, and adorned me with its honors,
to refuse a request that comes from it through so esteemed a friend. But
I do not think any one of the portraits you mention as in my possession
worthy of the situation and company you propose to place it in. You
have an excellent artist lately arrived. If he will undertake to make
one for you, I shall cheerfully pay the expense: but he must not delay
setting about it, or I may slip through his fingers, for I am now in my
85th year, and very infirm.
I send with this a very learned work as it seems to me, on the
ancient Samaritan Coins, lately printed in Spain, and at least curious
for the beauty of the impression. Please to accept it for your college
library. I have subscribed for the Encyclopedia now printing here, with
the intention of presenting it to the college. I shall probably depart
before the work is finished, but shall leave directions for its
continuance to the end. With this you will receive some of the first
You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I
have been questioned upon it. But cannot take your curiosity amiss, and
shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed: I believe
in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his
Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable
service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the
soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another
life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental
points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever
sect I meet with them.
<b>As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you
particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as
he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see; but I
apprehend, it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with
most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his
divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never
studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I
expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble</b>.
no harm however in its being believed, if that belief has the good
consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected
and more observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme
takes it amiss by distinguishing the believers in his government of the
world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure. I shall only add
respecting myself, that having experienced the goodness of that being in
conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its
continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting
such goodness. My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of
an old letter inclosed, which I wrote in answer to one from an old
religionist whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and
who being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious,
though rather impertinent caution. I send you also the copy of another
letter which will show something of my disposition relating to religion.
With great and sincere esteem and affection, I am, &c.
PS. Had not your college some present of books from the king of
France. Please to let me know if you had an expectation given you of
more, and the nature of that expectation? I have a reason for the
I confide that you will not expose me to criticisms and censures by
publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others
enjoy their religious sentiments, without reflecting on them for those
that appeared to me unsupportable or even absurd. All sects here, and we
have a great variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them
with subscriptions for the building their new places of worship, and as I
have never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the
world in peace with them all.