The Importance of Knowing U.S. History #2

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Books For a Bell

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most astute Americans of his time, and as such, he wasn’t about to allow himself to be played like a violin by any other person or group of people.  Franklin was never once known to yield to any type or kind of personal manipulation.  At least that became the opinion of the folks in Wrentham, Massachusetts, after he turned them down after their appeal for help in obtaining a church bell.

The entire incident began at the end of the War of Independence when a heated dispute arose that divided the citizens of Wrentham.  The discord grew so intense that the dissidents angrily departed to another location and started their own town, and named it New Wrentham.

As was the usual custom, the first building the new inhabitants set out to erect was their own church.  They all realized that they needed a central place of community worship.  New England tradition put that institution, the local Church, at the cultural, religious, social, and governmental center of every town.  The founding fathers of the new community went right to work on the new building’s construction, but they immediately discovered that they had the very same problem that they faced in their previous location.  When these new pioneers, of sorts, finished building the church, someone noted that there was no bell for the steeple.  This, of course, meant that there was no way to summon the local citizens for worship services, or for other emergencies such as fire.  Therefore, the town leaders puts their heads together and came up with a new and creative plan to solve their dilemma.

The inhabitants of New Wrentham were all well aware of Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin’s, interest in community building projects.  They all just naturally figured that they could count on Franklin’s personal support in assisting them to get a bell for the new church.  They concluded that all they needed to do was to gain the old patriot’s personal attention and somehow that would magically lead to the acquisition of a new bell.  To accomplish this feat, they put a proverbial carrot at the end of the stick and announced that they had changed the name of their new town to Franklin, in hopes that it would assist them in garnering Benjamin Franklin’s personal attention so necessary for the acquisition of a new church bell.

Their next effort was to write Mr. Franklin a letter, informing him of their action and asking him to donate a bell for their new church.  Dr. Franklin, however, was not too impressed.  He wrote back to them suggesting that “sense is better than sound,” and simultaneously offering them a better way for him to assist the fledgling community.

Instead of a church bell, Dr. Franklin sent the good citizens of New Wrentham a fully loaded crate of books, intimating that they should forget about the house of worship for a little while and rather start a new library. Benjamin Franklin personally believed that books were much more important than the sound of a church bell.

The townspeople followed Franklin’s advice and as a result, today, over 357 years later, they have the oldest public library in the United States of America–a continuing monument to Benjamin Franklin’s refusal to allow any group of people to use him for their own purposes, not even when they were willing to change the name of their own town.

When you truly know who you really are, what you are really doing, where you are really going, and when you intend to get there, then nothing can ever “shake your tree” or distract your personal attention from achieving the dreams and goals you have chosen to accomplish with the use of your life.  

Resolute determination and personal competence keeps you on track and on time for the accomplishment of your own success.

Peace And Love to All of You……………….Poppa Bear            

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