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Naked Truth
Benjamin Franklin revealed the naked truth in his almanac in 1744. “Courteous Reader,” Franklin began the introduction to that year’s issue of Poor ...

Naked Truth

Benjamin Franklin revealed the naked truth in his almanac in 1744.

“Courteous Reader,” Franklin began the introduction to that year’s issue of Poor Richard’s. “THIS is the Twelfth Year that I have in this Way laboured for the Benefit of Whom? of the Publick, if you’ll be so good-natured as to believe it,” he wrote, possibly pausing before baring his soul. “if not, e’en [then] take the naked Truth, ’twas for the Benefit of my own dear self,” he added, perhaps with a cheeky grin.

Ever conscious of his reputation as a frugal Quaker and a diligent publisher, Franklin built his almanac readership through honesty and accuracy. He knew he provided the public with a service. His calendars and weather predictions were as precise as the bifocals he would one day invent. But he also valued his relationship with his readers, enough to admit the truth of his heart for business.

And so on that anniversary day in 1744, Franklin decided to have some fun in his introduction. He confessed his true intentions. The almanac was as much for him as it was for his audience. He admitted the almanac had brought him intellectual stimulation. It also bore him financial fruit. Such was Franklin’s naked truth as an editor.

In that same publication, Franklin pointed out the folly and naked truth of one of his competitors, who carelessly predicted an eclipse that never took place. “There is no manner of Truth in this Prediction,” Franklin pointed out.

He then assured his readers he had not changed his ways or tried any wild new prediction processes. “I have made no Alteration in my usual Method.”

Franklin closed his introduction with his usual warm greeting: “I am, dear Reader, Thy obliged Friend.”

As often as the earth orbited the sun, Franklin sought to deliver an accurate and truthful almanac to his dear readers and friends, both in the colonies and England. His reputation resulted in many other successes. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly and later appointed to the post of deputy postmaster of North America. His status and skills enabled him to write the Plan of Union.

Franklin’s due diligence, thrift, and honesty also brought him more recognition by the king, who named Franklin as trade representative for the colonies. This post brought Franklin an opportunity more electrifying than his kite: a chance to move to London, which proved to be one of his favorite places.

While Franklin enjoyed the fruit of his naked-truth approach to business in England, he had no idea just how much naked truth his friends in Boston would face in the next two decades. Their honest assessment would force Benjamin Franklin to make difficult choices about the truth of his loyalties in the years ahead.

Prayer

Father, teach me your honesty and wisdom that I may see the naked truth in my life.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place”

(Psalm 51:6).


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