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History of Philanthropy

   The word, philanthropos, combined two words: philos, “loving” in the sense of benefitting, caring for, nourishing; and anthropos, “human being” in the sense of “humankind” or “humanity”.

Benjamin Franklin - Regarded in his own time as “the first great American,” lionized in 18th-century Europe and America as a model of American values, and especially of the Enlightenment in America, the key to his life was his Classical, and classically American, philanthropy. He self-consciously and purposefully oriented his life around volunteer public service. Even his political rival in France, John Adams, avowed that “there was scarcely a peasant or citizen” who “did not consider him as a friend to humankind.”

Alexander Hamilton - launched the Founders’ argument for the Constitution’s ratification, by noting that “it is commonly remarked” that in creating this new nation, Americans were acting on behalf of, and for the benefit of, all mankind. “This” he wrote, “adds the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism.”

The “philanthropy” Hamilton was talking about was not “rich helping poor”, but private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life. Classical philanthropy had become classically American. The United States was not only created by philanthropy, but also for philanthropy—to be a philanthropic nation, a gift to humanity, squarely in the Promethean tradition.

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
~Mark Twain