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OPTIMISM: Ben Franklin and the 200-Year Endowments

OPTIMISM: Ben Franklin and the 200-Year EndowmentsPosted on September 30, 2012 by Eddie ThompsonFranklin’s optimism was so irrepressible that he left 200-year endowments to Boston and Philadelphia.In 1785 a French mathematician named Charles Joseph Mathon de la Cour wrote a parody of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac in which he mocked the unbearable spirit of American optimism represented by Franklin. The Frenchman fictionalized about “Fortunate Richard” leaving a small sum of money in his will to be used only after it had collected interest for 500 years.Franklin, who was seventy-nine years old at the time, wrote back to de la Cour, thanking him for the great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia of 1,000 pounds to each, on the condition that it be placed in a fund that would gather interest and support the public good for the succeeding 200 years.

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