Thursday, March 2, 2017

Estacada Oregon and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

(We begin our unit on the American Revolution by looking at the autobiography of perhaps our greatest American, Benjamin Franklin... and also by taking a little detour past my hometown of Colton, Oregon, down the Clackamas River, toward the mill town of Estacada.)

"When my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure, I put down from time to time on pieces of paper such thoughts as occur'd to me respecting it.  Most of these are lost..."  
-Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(Estacada was the next town over from Colton, and I grew up among these old back roads and bridges.  Fishing along this river, hiking in the woods, peering through the trees at darting deer, playing basketball and baseball in their fields... but even though it was just a walk through the trees away, it always felt like a separate world.  As if there was a line that would always divide us.  We are here, in our town.  They are something different and we don't belong.)

"I began now to have some acquaintance among the young people of the town that were lovers of reading with whom I spent my evenings very pleasantly..."  -Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(If there is one thing I learned from studying the Original 13 Colonies, is that America has always been divided.)

"Perhaps the most important part of the journal is the plan to be found in which I formed at sea for regulating my future conduct in life."  -Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

(It's Puritans are permitted here and Roman Catholics are allowed there.  This Colony is for Jews and Quakers and this one for Spaniards and Swedes.  It's always been this way, lines that divide us.  Yet also the singular truth of our country has always been, that the greatness inside the individual rises to connect us.  Great men and women have always emerged in our darkest hour to enlighten and unite us.)

"But I am going too fast with my story..."
(Franklin was one of those men.  From his humble beginnings as a printer's apprentice through inventor of the Bifocal, the Franklin Stove, the Lightning Rod, and the Glass Harmonica among others, to his aged days as a diplomat in Paris urging the French to send ships and soldiers during the war with Britain.  Benjamin Franklin was unorthodox and original, but helped to hold our country together when it needed him the most.)

"I therefore filled all the little spaces that occur'd between the remarkable days in the calendar, with proverbial sentences, chiefly as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth and thereby securing virtue."  -Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(It's a tricky spot we find our American selves in these days.  Old segregated lines of division are creeping back up.  Driving through Estacada and wandering down by the old river, I'm reminded how great Franklin and sigh.  His voice seems very dim now and far away.)

"By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be grown old.  I us'd to write more methodically.  But one does not dress for private company as for a public ball."  -Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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