Chapter Three: CIVIC VISIONS Improving the Self and Community Protecting the Citizens
The South East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, ca. 1718
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The South East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, ca. 1718
ven as a young tradesman, Franklin sought to better himself and his community. He organized the Junto–a small group of fellow tradesmen and artisans committed to mutual improvement. At their weekly meetings they asked how they “may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?” The Junto’s actions formed their answer. Franklin and his colleagues helped establish a lending library, firefighting brigade, university, learned society, militia, hospital, and insurance company.

Franklin’s lifelong efforts to improve himself and the world around him stemmed from the same ambition and intellectual energy he demonstrated as a printer and young boy. His commitment to public service also built on his sociable nature: Franklin was a true philanthropist. He believed that society’s many challenges required mutual action, collaboration, and generosity. This, for Franklin, defined citizenship, in the colonies and in the young republic.

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