هدية بنجامن فرانكلن تشعل منافسة لقرنين بين بوسطن وفيلادلفيا
وفي عام 1990، بعد 200 سنة من وفاته في 17 أبريل 1790، أصبحت بوسطن وفيلادلفيا are about to become beneficiaries of Franklin's 18th century wisdom. Franklin bequeathed the cities a total of $:2,000 sterling, with one hitch: much of the money could not be drawn on for 100 years, and the rest could not be distributed for 200 years.
Today, what remains of Franklin's bequest is worth $6.5 million, and the legacy has become a matter of no small dispute. Politicians, historians and civic leaders are at odds over how the money can best be spent to solve 20th century problems.
Should it go to fighting youth gangs, building low-cost housing, or reducing government budget deficits? Or should it still go to Franklin's original purpose, helping young tradesmen get started in their jobs?
It's a wonderful irony that 18th century money should become available just when we need it for our problems today, said James M. Shannon, the Attorney General of Massachusetts and one of the officials involved in trying to determine who will get Franklin's bequest. I would hate to have it end up just funding the debt, Mr. Shannon added, refering to Massachusetts' nettlesome $1 billion state budget deficit.
فرانكلن، الذي وُلِد في بوسطن Franklin, who was born in Boston but moved to Philadelphia at age 17, left the money in a codicil to his will. He specified that the $:2,000 be divided equally between Boston and Philadelphia for use as loans for young apprentices as he had once been. Then, 100 years after his death, part of the money should be disbursed, with the remainder given out a century later.
Franklin's instructions also provided that at the end of the 200 years the balance of the money in the Boston trust be divided, with 26 percent going to the city and 74 percent to Massachusetts. He made a similar arrangement with فيلادلفيا وپنسلڤانيا، but he did not spell out how the final sums should be spent, not presuming to carry my views farther, he said in the will.
The balance in the Boston trust is now $4.5 million, while the money in the Philadelphia account is valued at $2 million. The large difference in the value can be traced to the wiser handling of the investment in Boston, said Whitfield Bell, a historian and the curator of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The philosophical society was one of a number of intellectual organizations founded by Franklin.
In recent years the Philadelphia bequest has been managed by the Board of City Trusts, while in Boston it has been managed since the early part of the century by the trustees of the Franklin Institute, which include some representatives of organizations named for the job in Franklin's will.
مبلغ الألفين دولار الذي جنـّبه فرانكلن جاء من راتبه كحاكم پنسلڤانيا من 1785 إلى 1788. It was one of Franklin's favorite notions, one he tried to get written into the Constitution, that public servants in a democracy should not be paid, Mr. Bell said.
At the time the British pound was the most widely accepted currency in America. Although it is difficult to make an exact comparison to today's dollar, Mr. Bell said $:2,000 might have had the buying power in 1790 of what $1 million has today.
Mr. Bell headed a committee appointed by Mayor Wilson Goode of Philadelphia that concluded this week that the city's share of the money, about $520,000, should be used for grants to high school graduates who want to learn a craft or trade, following Franklin's original intention.
مجلس پنسلڤانيا التشريعي is debating how to spend its share, about $1.5 million. The State Senate has passed a bill that would donate all the money to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a musuem that was built partly with money taken from the trust on the 100th anniversary of Franklin's death.
'كل واحد لديه فكرة مختلفة'
But Paul Dlugolecki, the executive director of the Senate's Appropriations Committee, said the State House of Representatives is unlikely to go along with the plan because everybody has a different idea about what to do with the money.
Among the ideas put forward, he said, were using the money for low-income housing, giving it all to a university or following Philadelphia's lead and returning to Franklin's original purpose by providing scholarships for students studying a trade.
الموقف في مساتشوستس هو أكثر تعقيداً.
In part the trouble stems from a 14-year struggle over what to do with the money released in 1890, on the 100th anniversary of Franklin's death. At the time, a state court eventually took control of the money from Boston aldermen who were accused of using the money for junkets.
خلاف حول حق المدرسة
Out of this fight, a school, named the Franklin Institute, was built in Boston's South End, with help from Andrew Carnegie. Today the school is a two-year technical college with 600 students, and its officials claim they are the rightful heirs to the $4.5 million due Boston and Massachusetts.
Michael C. Mazzola, the president of the school, said its claim was bolstered by a 1958 law passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor. The measure would have terminated Franklin's trust and given all the remaining money to the school, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court said the trust could not be prematurely ended.
Our lawyers tell us this law giving the money to the school is still valid and the money should now come to the school, said Mr. Mazzola, himself a graduate of the Franklin Institute.
But Mr. Shannon, the State Attorney General, said it was his view that the law did not apply and that the money should go to the city and state as specified in Franklin's will.
Ted Landsmark, director of the Office of Jobs and Community Services for Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, also challenged the school's interpretation, saying the 1958 law did not apply. But Mr. Landsmark said the city was willing to talk with the school to see if it could use Boston's share for a program to train poor urban youths.
Because Franklin's trust was not actually set up until a year after he died, there is still time for negotiations, Mr. Shannon said. But otherwise the dispute, like the one in 1890, could end up in court.
Franklin himself knew the potential for conflict. In his will, he wrote: Considering the accidents to which all human Affairs and Projects are subject in such a length of Time, I have perhaps too much flattered myself with a vain Fancy that these Dispositions will be continued without interruption and have the Effects proposed.
- FOX BUTTERFIELD (1990-04-21). "From Ben Franklin, a Gift That's Worth Two Fights". النيويورك تايمز.