Bill Robling as Benjamin Franklin

23 Feb 2016, Posted by Founding Franklin in Get To Know Bill Robling

Bill Robling as Benjamin Franklin

In this newsletter and blog, I try to talk each month about my interpretation of Benjamin Franklin. One ongoing process in historical interpretation is distinguishing between oneself and one’s character. The frequent question that I get from my spouse is, “Who is this talking, you or Dr. Franklin?” I do know, of course, which is which. (At least most of the time.)

I have found, though, that one inevitably does, and should, make this portrayal personal. We are actors, not robots, and any characterization, whether historical person or character on a stage, draws on the personality of the actor to some extent. After fifteen or so years of “being” Benjamin Franklin, I find myself quite surprised to see more and more similarities between his thinking and my own. Chicken or egg? Has my mindset become more Franklinian, or was I first attracted to the character of Franklin because I sensed a like mind ( “like” in terms of philosophy, quality.)   I suspect that there are elements of both.

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