Indispensable Public Need: Train Up Youth In Wisdom and Virtue

THEY WERE BELIEVERS, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

23 August 1750

I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are, in my opinion, the strength of a state: much more so than riches or arms, which, under the management of Ignorance and Wickedness, often draw on destruction, instead of providing for the safety of a people. And though the culture bestowed on many should be successful only with a few, yet the influence of those few and the service in their power, may be very great. Even a single woman that was wise, by her wisdom saved a city.

I think also, that general virtue is more probably to be expected and obtained from the education of youth, than from the exhortation of adult persons; bad habits and vices of the mind, being, like diseases of the body, more easily prevented than cured.

I think moreover, that talents for the education of youth are the gift of God; and that he on whom they are bestowed, whenever a way is opened for the use of them, is as strongly called as if he heard a voice from heaven: nothing more surely pointing out duty in a public service, than ability and opportunity of performing it.


Source: Benjamin Franklin letter to Samuel Johnson dated 23 August 1750. Written in Philadelphia.


They Were Believers is researched, compiled, edited and formatted for the Internet (with occasional commentary and explanatory notes) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Self-Educated American.


Copyright © 2017 Steve Farrell.