Category Archive 'Benjamin Franklin'
30 Aug 2016
Christie’s Sale 12186
Important American Furniture, Silver, Outsider and Folk Art
20 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza
THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SILVER-HILTED SMALL SWORD
PROBABLY SPANISH, CIRCA 1760
Estimate USD 200,000 – USD 300,000
with tapering Colichemarde blade of hollow triangular section, etched at the forte with scrollwork, and engraved inscription (a 19th century addition) in French EpÃ©e que portait Benjamin Franklin dans les combats livrÃ©s en AmÃ©rique pour la cause de la LibertÃ©. / Il la donna depuis Ã son ami P.J.G. Cabania (sic) [Sword worn by Benjamin Franklin in the battles fought in America in the cause of Liberty. / He then gave it to his friend P.J.G. Cabanis], silver hilt comprising symmetrical shell-guard, quillion-block, knuckle-guard and pommel (rear-quillion missing) pierced with scrollwork and stylised trophies, and grip bound with silver wire and ribbon; with brown leather scabbard with silver locket decorated en suite with the hilt and struck on the reverse with a silversmithâ€™s mark, and later silver chape with iron finial; and later close-fitted velvet-lined leather-covered case with brass mounts
The sword: 33 Â½ in. (85 cm.) blade; 40 3/8 in. (102.5 cm.) overall
The case: 42 5/8 in. (108.3 cm.) long
The locket (upper scabbard mount) bearing a silversmithâ€™s mark of SS in a rectangle, determined to be that of Samuel Soumaine (1718-circa 1769) of Annapolis, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
larger version here
28 Apr 2016
John Caldwell Calhoun; Y’ 1804; Vice President of the United States, 1825-1832; Secretary of State, 1844-1845; Secretary of War, 1817-1825; Senator from South Carolina, 1832-1843 and 1845-1850; Member House of Representatives representing 6th District of South Carolina, 1811-1817; Author, Disquisition on Government (1849), Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States (1851); defender of States’ Rights and proponent of the “Concurrent Majority” doctrine holding that minorities ought to have the right in extremis to block majority rule; and member of the all-time Great Triumvirate of the U.S. Senate.
1) Calhoun College stays Calhoun College.
Yale President Salovey announced yesterday afternoon, the Oldest College Daily reported, that the residential college named for Yale’s greatest political thinker and statesman would retain its name, despite John C. Calhoun having held, in the first half of the 19th century, positions on Slavery and inherent Racial Inferiority generally regarded with abhorrence today.
Salovey justified this decision on the part of the Administration and the Corporation, saying:
Removing Calhounâ€™s name obscures the legacy of slavery rather than addressing it. Erasing Calhounâ€™s name from a much-beloved residential college risks masking this past, downplaying the lasting effects of slavery and substituting a false and misleading narrative, albeit one that might allow us to feel complacent or, even, self-congratulatory.â€
I suspect that, unreported, unacknowledged, and unsung, somewhere in the decision-making meeting rooms in Woodbridge Hall a dramatic last stand was taken by someone on behalf on history, tradition, and sanity, and that there must have been some terrible threat of a grand financial legacy being withheld were Calhoun’s name to be removed.
Master’s House, Trumbull College
2) The Title of “Master” of a Residential College Will Be Changed to “Head.”
The use of â€œmasterâ€ as a title at Yale is a legacy of the college systems at Oxford and Cambridge. The term derives from the Latin magister, meaning â€œchief, head, director, teacher,â€ and it appears in the titles of university degrees (master of arts, master of science, and others) and in many aspects of the larger culture (master craftsman, master builder). Some members of our community argued that discarding the term â€œmasterâ€ would interject into an ancient collegiate tradition a racial narrative that has never been associated with its use in the academy. Others maintained that regardless of its history of use in the academy, the titleâ€”especially when applied to an authority figureâ€”carries a painful and unwelcome connotation that can be difficult or impossible for some students and residential college staff to ignore.
Among the many comments considered on this matter, the thoughts and recommendations of the current Council of Masters, the twelve heads of the existing residential colleges, were especially salient. The council deliberated at length, informed by a multitude of discussions with students, staff, faculty, and fellows, as well as by reflections submitted to an online site open to all members of each residential college community. The council also monitored similar discussions at other colleges and universities, although its members were determined to arrive at their recommendations bearing in mind Yaleâ€™s distinctive traditions and culture.
The council found that making a recommendation to change the title was far from simple. People held a wide range of views, not as strongly correlated as some might have predicted with circumstances of age, race, or position in the college community. Nothing about the term itself is intrinsically tied to Yaleâ€™s history prior to 1930, or to the relationships that students of each generation have formed or will form with the individuals who lead their colleges. Moreover, a decision to stop using the term â€œmasterâ€ does not compromise the study of larger historical issues. In short, the reasons to change the title of â€œmasterâ€ proved more compelling than the reasons to keep it, and the current masters themselves no longer felt it appropriate to be addressed in that manner.
Not incidental to the discussion was the task of finding an alternative title that speaks to the definition and responsibilities of the office. In this respect, â€œhead of collegeâ€ is the most logical and straightforward choice. In its favor is that archival records show that â€œheadâ€ and â€œheadshipâ€ were placeholders for the title in the original planning documents. Heads of college may be addressed as professor, doctor, or Mr. or Ms., as applicable or as they prefer.
Alumni, particularly those of Calhoun College, actually cared about their college’s name being changed. Nobody particularly cared about the Master title, so Master was obviously the perfect sacrifice to fling upon the PC bonfire to appease the mob.
Yalies tend to be pedantic and good at research, so one does wonder why Peter Salovey and his powers-that-be confreres did not trouble themselves to consider “Warden,” “Rector,” or even “President” (as at Magdalen College, Oxford), but instead followed sheepishly along in the lame footsteps of Harvard and Princeton in changing that title to “Head.” It rankles, I think, that the pathetic creature occupying the chair in which John Hersey once sat, set the contemptible policy which the entire set of residential college will be proceeding to follow.
Benjamin West, Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky, 1816, Philadelphia Museum of Art
3. The new residential colleges will be named for Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray (whoever the hell she is).
Peter Salovey explained:
Benjamin Franklin College will recognize the recipient of a Yale honorary degree (1753 Hon. M.A.) whose immense accomplishments span the arts, the sciences, government, and service to society. The 41 published volumes of his papers, which contain the record of Benjamin Franklinâ€™s life correspondence, are among the Yale University Libraryâ€™s most important collections. The Franklin Papers represent the work of many Yale scholars and editors and, among the historical insights they offer, shed light on Franklinâ€™s relationship with Yale University. He carried on a decades-long correspondence with Yale President Ezra Stiles on subjects ranging from scientific research to the growing collections of Yaleâ€™s library.
John Adams, I guess, would have disagreed with this choice. He said of Dr. Franklin, in a 1783 letter to James Warren: “His whole life has been one continued insult to good manners and to decency.â€
But most of us today are nowhere nearly as censorious of Franklin’s illegitimate son and illegitimate grandson or of Franklin’s (1747) The Speech of Polly Baker, defending a fictional woman for bearing illegitimate children.
Franklin’s accomplishments in literature and scientific experiments and as a founder of the United States are so great that nobody could deny his worthiness as the namesake of a college.
The only problem is that he really had no genuine substantive connection to Yale.
Apparently, what really went on here was was explained in a letter from Salovey:
[A]dopting his name for one of the new colleges, we honor as well the generosity of Charles B. Johnson â€™54 B.A., who considers Franklin a personal role model. Mr. Johnsonâ€™s contribution to enable the construction of the new colleges is the single largest gift made to Yale. Pauli Murray College and Benjamin Franklin College, which will open Yaleâ€™s doors to thousands of additional future students, would not have been possible without his philanthropic vision.
Money talks. It isn’t really appropriate, but the man paid for the piper, so he gets to call the tune. It could be worse. We could have a residential college named “Pforzheimer.”
Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, Y â€™65 J.S.D., â€™79 Hon. D.Div., four-fer, maybe five-fer
And, then, of course, we come to the piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistance, the inevitable jolie cadeau de la rÃ©volution franÃ§aise, the big, fat chunk of tokenism:
The northern-most college, sited closest to Science Hill, Pauli Murray College will honor a Yale alumna (â€™65 J.S.D., â€™79 Hon. D.Div.) noted for her achievements in law and religion, and for her leadership in civil rights and the advancement of women. Pauli Murray enrolled at Hunter College in the 1920s, graduating in 1933 after deferring her studies following the Great Depression. Later, she began an unsuccessful campaign to enter the all-white University of North Carolina. Murrayâ€™s case received national publicity, and she became widely recognized as a civil rights activist.
A graduate of Howard Law School, Murray had an extraordinary legal career as a champion of racial and gender equity. United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall cited her book, Statesâ€™ Laws on Race and Color, for its influence on the lawyers fighting segregation laws. President John F. Kennedy appointed her to the Committee on Civil and Political Rights of the Presidentâ€™s Commission on the Status of Women.
Awarded a fellowship by the Ford Foundation, Murray pursued a doctorate in law at Yale in order to further her scholarly work on gender and racial justice. She co-authored Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII, in which she drew parallels between gender-based discrimination and Jim Crow laws. In 1965, she received her J.S.D. from Yale Law School, the first African-American to do so. Her dissertation was entitled, Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy. Immediately thereafter, she served as counsel in White v. Crook, which successfully challenged discrimination on the basis of sex and race in jury selection. She was a cofounder, with thirty-one others, of the National Organization for Women.
Murray was a vice president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina; she left to become a professor at Brandeis University, where she earned tenure and taught until 1973. She was the first person to teach African-American studies and womenâ€™s studies at Brandeis.
The final stage of Murrayâ€™s career continued a life marked by confronting challenges and breaking down barriers. At age 63, inspired by her connections with other women in the Episcopal Church, she left Brandeis and enrolled at the General Theological Seminary. She became the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest..
And you’ve got to hand it to Salovey, the Yale Administration, and the Corporation. When they set out to truckle and to pander to contemporary whiny left-wing identity groups, they do it good and proper. Obviously, in reality, there are no females, there are no African-Americans associated with Yale so eminent or of such accomplishment as to be even close to being genuinely worthy of being the namesake of a Yale College. Hilariously, as well, nobody outside the organized left has ever actually heard of Pauli Murray but, upon looking her up, one finds that, if you are going to pander, she is the cat’s pajamas. Pauli Murray was merely a minor left-wing public nuisance and lived and died in obscurity, but she combines in one small dusky package absolutely everything: she was female, African-American, queer, an Episcopalian priestess, and a transgender wannabee. What a deal! Let’s hope Yale, in future, treats Murray College as its own equivalent of California, and sends all of its commies, fruits, and nuts to go live there at the remote extremity of the campus.
02 Mar 2016
Christopher Taylor has pessimistic things to say about America’s politics. He thinks a nation with a culture like ours can only have the kind of national leadership we have.
Who wins what office makes no difference. Until the nation undergoes a tremendous shift at the basic, cultural level, elections will only pour more of the same on this country and every new election makes matters worse. And that cultural shift takes time, not elections.
We’re at a point in this nation where the Supreme Court has been stuffed with a near-majority of members for whom the constitution is simply a set of words they can use to lever in anything the latest progressive positions hold. When a court has even a few judges who are utterly disinterested in constitution, wisdom, reason, justice, or sanity, that court ceases to have any validity whatseover. It has been corrupted to the point of being useless.
Arguments we have to get the right sort of politician in this position or that for The Judges ignores the utter destruction of the constitution and nation that has already been wrought by a supposed judicially sensible majority. After the utter abortion that was the Kelo vs New London decision, the court followed up with several horrendously decided trash cases which demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with power no matter who they are or what they claim about law.
Will a supreme court justice picked by a corrupt, horrible hag like Hillary Clinton be much worse than even a lying bozo like Donald Trump? Yes. But the bad is not a question of ruining the nation, its a question of how fast and in what direction. Its going that way anyway, its just a matter of how swiftly. …
There’s a phrase some use to describe this attitude: “let it burn.” Some misunderstand this as a call to destroy the nation. But its not. Its a call to step back and give up the fight because its going down either way. For years now I’ve been telling everyone to focus locally, on family, neighbors, local politics. Your home, your area, your town. Because the federal government is a write-off. There is no fixing it through any elections.
That’s what Let It Burn means; not “revolution!!!” but rather “its already burning and the firefighters know it won’t be saved.” Let it Burn recognizes that its already on fire. We’re past the point of preventing it. We cannot save this Republic, until we get past the hard times ahead and begin the slow, painful process of rebuilding.
I’m sorry. I don’t like it either. but that doesn’t make it any less true. And recognizing this doesn’t make me a crazy old man. Just a sad one.
“Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”
-John Quincy Adams
Sorry, John. We didn’t. We gave it a pretty good run for a while, but its over.
Hat tip to Bird Dog and Vanderleun.
10 Jun 2009
The local historical society atBerwick, Pennsylvania, a borough of 10,000 people in largely rural Columbia County, was inventorying its collection of Early America almanacs and discovered it possessed a rare 1733 first annual edition of Benjamin Franklin‘s Poor Richard’s Almanack.
The almanac, bound with several others, proved authentic, and was sold yesterday at Sotheby’s, bringing $556,500, the second largest price ever paid at auction for an American book. The record holder remains George Washington’s copy of the Federalist Papers also sold by Sotheby’s in 1990 for $1.4 million.
Whatever will the historical society do with so much money?
Some news agency‘s account.
I know myself of a county courthouse in Pennsylvania where original documents signed by Benjamin Franklin in his capacity as secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are still sitting unrecognized in the county clerk’s office. I could have pointed out their value, but I kind of like the idea of their being in the same place they’ve always been.
17 Jan 2006
Benjamin Franklin, born January 17, 1706 in Boston, is often referred to as “the first American.”
It was he who provided the classic model of the American self-made man (and autodidact), who first achieves personal independence by success in business, using it as his stepping-stone to worthier achievement in the realms of learning or of politics. And it was Franklin who first synthetized the characteristically American political blend of conservative skepticism with broadminded liberality, tempered by the businessman’s sense of practicality.
Franklin became rich as printer, publisher, and author, then with the leisure provided by the independence he had earned, turned his attention to experimental science. In the sciences, Franklin’s achievements were of international importance (he contributed greatly to the understanding of electricity), but probably even more important were the practical inventions which resulted from his experiments, or simply from his restless inclination toward problem-solving. We owe to Franklin: bifocal eyeglasses, the odometer, lightning rods, and the Franklin stove (among others), the last of which alone completely revolutionized the economy of domestic life.
In the struggle for American independence, Franklin, though the oldest, proved perhaps the most indispensable of the framers after Washington. He edited the draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson. To Franklin’s scientific prestige, to his diplomatic abilities, and to his personal savoir faire and charm, we owe the French Alliance which made Revolutionary victory possible.
Franklin’s carefully crafted mature persona, the grandfatherly amiability artfully cloaking the deep and crafty intelligence, still proves a serviceable model for worldly and successful men to use to disarm potential opponents today. And it is Franklin’s own characteristic combination of superb practical competence allied to modesty and deprecatory humor, which defined our national version of sprezzatura.
Christopher Hitchens reflects on Franklin in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Dudley R. Herschbach
Some of his inventions
Franklin and lightning rods
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