What Would Life Be Like If Ben Franklin Had Never Existed?

His legacy is not a political philosophy but a protean existence, act after act of bold curiosity, brash risk-taking, raw ingenuity. Once those constituted a definition of the American character. Today they would more likely be termed "hypomania," a fair diagnosis for any individual who manages single-handedly to found a library, fire company, police force, hospital, university, insurance company, sanitation department and militia.

And that little list doesn't even begin to get at his many little inventions. I have often wondered what life would be like had Ben Franklin never existed --we'd all be sans many of the gadgets and institutions that make a long and comfortable life possible. A fairly nice piece on him in the Formerly Gray Lady. (I may faint.) Ann Althouse suggests we all celebrate his 300th birthday by accomplishing something worthwhile.