On this day in history: April 17, 1897, Thornton Wilder, U.S. playwright and novelist, was born

Thornton Wilder in 1948

Thornton Wilder in 1948

On this day in history: April 17, 1897, Thornton Wilder, American playwright and novelist, was born:

Thornton Niven Wilder (April 17, 1897 – December 7, 1975) was an American playwright and novelist. He won three Pulitzer Prizes—for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and for the two plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth—and a U.S. National Book Award for the novel The Eighth Day.

Interlitq wishes its Christian friends and readers a peaceful and reflective Good Friday

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Gabriel García Márquez, who has died today at 87, shown together with friend Elena Poniatowska, a Vice-President of Interlitq

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Elena Poniatowska last saw Gabriel García Márquez, who has died today, when he visited her home last November “with a bouquet of yellow roses…”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1976, nine years after the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude and six years before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1976, nine years after the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude and six years before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

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Elena Poniatowska, the Mexican author and journalist who is a Vice-President of Interlitq, last saw Gabriel García Márquez, who has died today, when he visited her home last November “with a bouquet of yellow roses, a symbol that made frequent appearances in his epic, hallucinatory novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Elena Poniatowska

Elena Poniatowska

On this day in history: April 17, 1790, Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, died

Benjamin Franklin, 6th President of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin, 6th President of Pennsylvania

On this day in history: April 17, 1790, Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, died:

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and in many ways was “the First American”. A world-famous polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and a university.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.”To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies. With two partners he published the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British policies. He became wealthy publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin was also the printer of books for the Moravians of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1742 on). Franklin’s printed Moravian books (printed in German) are preserved, and can be viewed, at the Moravian Archives located in Bethlehem. Franklin visited Bethlehem many times and stayed at the Moravian Sun Inn .

He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. Franklin became a national hero in America when as agent for several colonies he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament in London repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts to secure support for the American Revolution by shipments of crucial munitions proved vital for the American war effort.

For many years he was the British postmaster for the colonies, which enabled him to set up the first national communications network. He was active in community affairs, colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his life, he freed his own slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and the $100 bill; warships, the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies, and, more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

 

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