Cody Delistraty

On 11 October 1726, Benjamin Franklin stepped off the Berkshire and breathed in ‘the fine weather’ of Philadelphia. After spending two years in London learning the printing trade, he had crossed back over the Atlantic on a 12-week voyage that left him nauseated but craving the comforts of America. Within three years he would be publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette, a popular daily newspaper, followed by the indispensable Poor Richard’s Almanack. But on that fine October day, the 20-year-old had another idea – an idea that had him scurrying to his room to find his quill pen and a bottle of red ink.

With these, he sketched a chart – the days of the week on top and 13 ‘virtues’ on the side – which he would use to test his personal growth. ‘I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection’, Franklin wrote in his…

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