Benjamin Franklin and the Morals of Chess

9/12/2006 – Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was the author of the first piece of writing on chess published in that country? Today, three hundred years after his birth, the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission is hosting a lecture by John McCrary on this book. If you cannot attend you can read the text.

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Benjamin Franklin is often remembered for his science experiments, his diplomatic achievements, and his entrepreneurialism as a printer. He is much less well-known for his chess-playing abilities. However, in a special lecture, John McCrary, past President of the United States Chess Federation, will explore this very topic.

McCrary’s will discuss Franklin’s significance to modern chess, as well as the diplomatic and moral lessons he learned from the game. McCrary will also speculate on Franklin’s actual chess-playing abilities, discuss his acceptance of women as able chess players, and introduce his most unusual opponent, the sensational “Turk” – a chess-playing machine that took Paris by storm.

Further, McCrary will talk about Benjamin Franklin’s essay “The Morals of Chess” and trace these “morals” throughout Franklin’s writings on habits, virtue, keeping things in perspective, good judgment, diplomacy, and more.

The event is made possible through the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation. Light refreshments will follow the discussion.

  • When: Tuesday, September 12, 2006, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

  • Where: Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a non-profit organization supported by a lead grant of $4 million from The Pew Charitable Trusts, was established to mark the 300-year anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth (1706-2006) with a celebration dedicated to educating the public about his enduring legacy and inspiring renewed appreciation of the values he embodied. The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary was founded in 2000 by a consortium of five Philadelphia cultural institutions: the American Philosophical Society, The Franklin Institute, The Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, an Act of Congress in 2002 created the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission, a panel of fifteen outstanding Americans chosen to study and recommend programs to celebrate Franklin's 300th birthday.

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