(1/17/1706 – 4/17/1790)
Benjamin Franklin was born into a large family. He was the 15th child of seventeen children in the family. His father, Josiah, was a candle maker. Benjamin helped him make candles and soap.
His father wanted him to take over the family business when he grew up, but he wasn’t interested. To help Ben decide on a career, Josiah took him on long walks around Boston so he could observe men doing the work of their trade. Benjamin learned how to do many things during these excursions, but he didn’t want to pursue any of the trades.
When Ben was twelve years old his father apprenticed him to his older brother James, who was a printer. Ben had to sign “articles of indenture”; a contract that bound him to work for James for nine years until he was 21 years old! He worked twelve hours a day in the printing shop, but still found time to educate himself. Though he only had two years of formal schooling, he taught himself foreign languages and read books on grammar, science, and math.
Ben wrote letters to the editor of the newspaper (his brother), and signed them “Silence Dogood”. People enjoyed reading the letters, but James became angry and stopped printing them when he found out his younger brother had been writing them and signing a fictitious name.
James got into trouble and was imprisoned. He was told he could no longer publish the newspaper. He decided he would have Ben publish the paper for him (even though it was illegal because Ben was his apprentice). He told Ben he would tear up his contract if he would publish the newspaper while he was in prison. So Ben published the paper. Later James tried to hold him to the original “articles of indenture”, but he failed because the authorities would find out he had illegally put Ben in charge of the paper. So James could not write a new contract binding Ben to him. The two brothers fought constantly.
Finally Ben ran away and went to Philadelphia. He started his own successful printing business and published a newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, for many years. He is most famous for “Poor Richard’s Almanack” which he published for 25 years. People frequently quote from his sayings such things as, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise “and ” A penny saved is a penny earned”. Ben followed this rule all his life and accomplished more than most men of his time.
He was able to get the cooperation of people by giving credit for ideas to others rather than taking the credit himself. He started the Junto club where people could come together to exchange ideas. As a result of these meetings he started the first library in America, the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia, and the first hospital in Pennsylvania.
They appointed him postmaster and he created a working postal system. He even created the “Dead Letter Office”.
He invented bifocal glasses so he would not have to switch glasses when looking at things far away and close up.
He invented the lightning rod to protect people’s homes from being destroyed by lightning.
He invented the Franklin stove which provided better heat for their homes. He refused to patent the Franklin stove and the lightning rod because he thought more people would benefit from the inventions if he did not patent them.
He proved that lightning and electricity are the same thing using a kite, string, and key in a thunderstorm. His experiments earned him fame. He was also awarded honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale even though he lacked formal schooling.
He made studies of the Gulf Stream while on voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. He started the University of Pennsylvania.
He served as a diplomat to France and spent about 10 years away from his family to further the cause of American independence. The people of France loved him dearly and honored him in many ways.
He helped to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
He also worked to put an end to slavery in America long before others took up the cause.
Some say when he died in 1790 the whole civilized world went into mourning. 20,000 people honored him at his funeral in Philadelphia.
People still visit his grave today and throw pennies on his headstone. Every year $6,000 worth of pennies are collected and given in his honor to help the poor.
“A good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”
“A penny saved is a penny earned. “
“Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.”
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
“Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.”
“Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them.”
“Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
“I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”
A German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.
Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole.
He was visiting the United States when Hitler came to power in 1933, and did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research. Later, together with Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein taught physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. His great intelligence and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with genius.
“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.”
“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever – this is a somewhat new kind of religion.”
“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”
(10/02/1869 – 1/30/1948)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ or better still as ‘Father of the Nation’ was one of the most charismatic leaders who fought for the freedom of the country with ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (way of truth) as his only weapons.
Gandhiji influenced both nationalist and internationalist movements and brought the cause of India’s independence from British colonial rule to world attention. Gandhiji’s principle of satyagraha (from Sanskrit satya: truth, and graha: grasp/hold), has also inspired other democratic activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon and the 14th Dalai Lama.
The title of ‘Mahatma’ (Sanskrit term of reverence ‘mahatman’ meaning ‘one of great soul’) was accorded on Gandhiji in 1915 by his admirer Rabindranath Tagore (the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature). It was given in response to Gandhiji conferring the title of “Gurudev” (great teacher) upon Tagore.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
“Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected”
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”
“Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it.”
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
“They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”
Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was an American author and humorist and his varied works include novels, travel narratives, short stories, sketches, and essays. He is most famous for the novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called the “Great American Novel”, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).
He was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, to a Tennessee country merchant, John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798 – March 24, 1847), and Jane Lampton Clemens (June 18, 1803 – October 27, 1890).
Twain was the sixth of seven children. Only three of his siblings survived childhood: his brother Orion (July 17, 1825 – December 11, 1897); Henry, who died in a riverboat explosion (July 13, 1838 – June 21, 1858); and Pamela (September 19, 1827 – August 31, 1904). His sister Margaret (May 31, 1830 – August 17, 1839) died when Twain was three, and his brother Benjamin (June 8, 1832 – May 12, 1842) died three years later. Another brother, Pleasant (1828–1829), died at six months.
When Twain was four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Missouri was a slave state and young Twain became familiar with the institution of slavery, a theme he would later explore in his writing.
Twain’s father was an attorney and a local judge. In March 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia. The next year, he became a printer’s apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother Orion. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. He joined the union and educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school. At 22, Twain returned to Missouri.
On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby inspired Twain to be a steamboat pilot. As Twain observed in Life on the Mississippi, the pilot surpassed a steamboat’s captain in prestige and authority; it was a rewarding occupation with wages set at $250 per month, roughly equivalent to $73,089 a year today.
While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when the steamboat on which he was working, the Pennsylvania, exploded. Twain had foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research. Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life.
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.”
A former Price Waterhouse Coopers international tax consultant, turned entrepreneur, who’s founded a philosophical Adventurers Club on the Internet that’s now home to over 350,000 members from over 189 countries. His inspirational books have been published in 23 languages and he was one of the featured teachers in the international phenomenon, The Secret. Today Mike is perhaps best known for his Notes from the Universe emailings and his New York Times bestseller Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams. Mike lives what he teaches, traveling internationally speaking on life, dreams, happiness.
“To begin living like you’ve never lived before, begin living like you’ve never lived before.”
“Contrary to popular thinking, being worthy isn’t something you earn, it’s something you recognize.”
“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to START living the life of your dreams.”
“Thoughts become things… so choose the good ones!”
“When you understand someone… truly understand someone… you can’t help but love them. Therefore… anyone in your life… ANYONE… who you feel less than love for… you have misunderstood.”
“Thinking big but acting small… is the same as thinking small.”
“Whether it’s praise, love, criticism, money, time, power, punishment,space, sorrow, laughter, need, pain, or pleasure… the more of it that you give, the more of it you will receive.”