On this New Year’s its appropriate to note great American Ben Franklin’s list of 13 virtues, with which he sought to cultivate his character, exemplify American values:

1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.  He may have struggled a bit with this one

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or you; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.  Frankin supported a fair and full compensation system!

9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.  Again, he regarded some of these more as guidelines than strict rules …

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.  Like many founding fathers, Franklin was a deist, believing in God but no particular religion.  Two months before he died he responded as follows to a letter from his friend Yale president Ezra Stiles, who had asked him his views on Jesus’ divinity: “(Jesus’) System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see … as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.”

McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are devoted to representing people in personal injury and worker’s compensation matters. Students of history and believers in American exceptionalism, on occasion its helpful to recall what great Americans have had to say. Believe in better.