Franklin‘s List of Defined Virtues
1. Temperance – eat not to dullness; drink not to elation.
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. Reolution – 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; that is, wast nothing.
6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly.
8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries; or omitting the benefits of your duty.
9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no un cleanliness in bocy, clothes, 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.
Benjamin Franklin was an author, a painter, an inventor, a father, a politician, and the first American Ambassador to France. He invented bifocals, swim flippers, lightening rods, and the Franklin stove. He founded a public library, a hospital, and insurance company and a fire department. He helped write the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. He wrote an autobiography in the middle of his life and shortly before his death in his 80’s, he completed his memoirs. Franklin was truly a Renaissance man. He was one of the greatest citizens and thinkers the world has ever seen. But Franklin was not always a great or successful man. At the age of 17 he ran away from home in Boston, estranged from his family because of an argument he had with his brother.
Franklin tried in business and failed, not once but twice. He was the father and single parent of an illegitimate son whose mother abandoned the child to Franklin unable and unwilling to live with Franklin and the child. As a young adult Franklin was by almost any measure and especially his own measure a dismal failure. His life was confused, difficult and not at all satisfying to Franklin or to anyone else. He decided to change.
Benjamin Franklin sat down and made a list. The list consisted of twelve characteristics, values and virtues to which he aspired. He called his list “Virtues”. Franklin’s list of virtues looked like this.