Hat tip to the Whitehouse.gov blog on Ben Franklin’s birthday, January 17, 1706. The National Archives is adding annotated volumes from The Papers of Benjamin Franklin to Founders Online.
The White House blog avails itself of the luxury of epigraphy: “‘The noblest question in the world is What Good may I do in it?’–Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1737.”
I shall avail myself of the same luxury: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Wittes has explained (in the Lawfare blog) that Franklin meant something quite different in 1755 from the meaning that has been handed down to us via, for example, the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Notwithstanding whatever Ben’s intention was, President Obama, or his people, might have been a little abashed about posting their blog entry just as he was explaining why metadata was used to capture Paul Revere–that was the point of his love poem to the surveillers, was it not? (See Kieran Healy’s hilarious take, written last June, on “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere.”)