Day in History 17 April – Benjamin Franklin – Gabriel García Márquez

On this day in 1790, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, “The First American”, Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84.  Born on 17 January 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts Bay.  A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.  Known for his discoveries and theories regarding’s electricity and his inventions; the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’.  He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.  In 1733, Franklin began to publish the famous Poor Richard’s Almanack.  Adages from this almanac, such as “A penny saved is twopence dear” and “Fish and visitors stink in three days” remain common quotations still today.  Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of thirteen virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life.  His autobiography lists his thirteen virtues as:

  1. “Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
  2. “Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
  3. “Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
  4. “Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
  5. “Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
  6. “Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
  7. “Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
  8. “Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
  9. “Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
  10. “Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.”
  11. “Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
  12. “Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
  13. “Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

The Final Footprint – Franklin is interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia with his wife Deborah.  He wrote a possible epitaph for himself when he was 22; “The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.”  Franklin’s actual grave, however, as he specified in his final will, simply reads “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.”  Franklin’s likeness and name are ubiquitous, as are cultural references to him, even more than two centuries after his death.  He has been honoured on coinage and money, and many towns, counties, educational institutions, people, and companies are named after him.

Gabriel_Garcia_MarquezOn  day in 2014, novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, Gabo, Gabriel García Marquez died of pneumonia at the age of 87 in Mexico City.  Born Gabriel José de la Concordia García Marquez on 6 March 1927 in Aracataca, Colombia.  In my opinion, one of the most significant authors of the 20th century.  He was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.  He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism.  In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha.  García Márquez started as a journalist, and wrote many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is perhaps best known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985).  His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations.  Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo (the town mainly inspired by his birthplace Aracataca), and most of them explore the theme of solitude.  The Final Footprint – On his death in April 2014, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, described him as “the greatest Colombian who ever lived”.  Garcia Marquez was cremated at a private family ceremony in Mexico City.  On 22 April, the presidents of Colombia and Mexico attended a formal ceremony in Mexico City, where Garcia Marquez had lived for more than three decades.  A funeral cortege took the urn containing his ashes from his house to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where the memorial ceremony was held.  Earlier, residents in his home town of Aracataca in Colombia’s Caribbean region held a symbolic funeral.

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