Although our mystery man was heavily involved in the founding of our nation, he never sought elected office. He was elected to various offices anyway, but on each of those occasions he was essentially conscripted into office by people who knew what an authentic leader was and what a faux leader was not.
Our friend was content to work behind the scenes, and rarely took credit for his ideas or initiatives. At salons and soirées, he was mostly silent, content to listen to what others had to say. He never allowed himself to be drawn into a public argument, and never spoke ill of anyone in public.
On several occasions, our friend drew from his personal fortune, or put it at risk, toward protecting or furthering the public interest. For example, in 1755, when General Braddock arrived in the colonies with a large army to push the French out of the Ohio Valley, the General expected the colonists to supply him with provisions, including horses and wagons. When the colonists balked, and General Braddock threatened seizure, our friend convinced the farmers of Pennsylvania to supply the General with everything he demanded by putting his personal fortune up as collateral.
When Braddock was routed by Indians allied with the French, losing to ambush after ambush two-thirds his officers and one-half his men, his own life in the bargain, our friend was faced with financial ruin. (Fortunately, the royal governor of Pennsylvania ultimately covered our friend’s £20,000 surety bond in full.)
Our friend refused to exploit his inventions for financial enrichment. For example, in 1741, he invented the Pennsylvania fireplace and refused to patent it. As a result, the Pennsylvania fireplace – far more efficient and effective than any heating system that preceded it – proliferated throughout the land, to the comfort of many. The inventor collected not a penny.
Our mystery man was the very paragon of open-mindedness, a trait he tirelessly attempted to cultivate in others, through his lending libraries, his newspaper, his Almanacks, his Junto, his College of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pennsylvania), his prolific correspondence, and his private persuasion.