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Young Tradesmen Will Benefit From Ben Franklin's Bequest

April 18, 1990|From United Press International

PHILADELPHIA — The proceeds of Benjamin Franklin's estate will be used to help educate young Philadelphians in the trades and applied sciences, city officials and members of a blue-ribbon panel said Tuesday.

The planned use of the bequest was announced on the 200th anniversary of Franklin's death, the date when Franklin instructed that his trust was to be terminated.

The bequest has grown from about $4,000 to $520,000, and the prospect of using his legacy drew more than 300 proposals from groups wishing to evoke the memory of one of Philadelphia's most famous residents.

City officials originally planned to use the money to promote tourism, but Mayor W. Wilson Goode appointed the committee to make recommendations after that plan drew fire.

The panel recommended that the money be used for financial aid for Philadelphia high school graduates who want to study trades, crafts or the applied sciences, and to recognize excellence in the trades.

The recommendations are similar to Boston's plans for its share of Franklin's estate. The Massachusetts city, where Franklin was born, has about $4.5 million available.

Franklin was apprenticed at the age of 14 as a printer, and used the trade as a springboard to fame as a philosopher, statesman and inventor. He left money to the two cities and states to pay apprentices.

"I believe what these recommendations are proposing is in the true spirit of Benjamin Franklin, and in the long run the city will be served best by following its recommendations," Goode said.

The panel also recommended that the city solicit contributions to increase the fund's principal. The fund will be administered by the Philadelphia Foundation.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has a portion of Franklin's estate--$1.5 million--but the state Legislature has not yet decided how to spend it.

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