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One of my favorite national holidays is Thanksgiving. We remember Thanksgiving because that’s the day of giving thanks and feasting. The first Thanksgiving Day proclamation was issued by our first president, President George Washington. He was such a great man and he did more things than we can even remember.

One of the things I like to point out is that he left an endowment to one of his favorite schools. There was a small college in Virginia called August Academy. It was renamed Liberty College due to the Revolution in 1776. After a few years, the school fell on hard times and was unable to meet its obligations. George Washington left a bequest of $20,000 to the school. In those days, that was a lot of money. The endowment saved the University. The college was so grateful that it changed its name to Washington College.

Later on the college was administered by another famous man by the name of Robert E. Lee. He was the college president. After he passed away, they renamed the school Washington and Lee University. It is still in existence today. The small university in the state of Virginia has its own law school, among other things. It’s amazing to think that if that school had not received the endowment from George Washington before his death, then the school would have died right along with him. We would not even remember that school if that had happened.

A legacy or a bequest can make a great deal of difference in many ways. There’s another famous patriot who left a legacy that should be remembered. His name was Benjamin Franklin. We think of him often. His image is on our $100 bill. In his will he also left a legacy. While he was serving as the president of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, basically as the governor, he was paid a salary. He believed that public service didn’t need to have a salary attached to it, so rather than taking the salary he put it aside in a special fund.

In his will, Benjamin Franklin said that funds should be allowed to grow and be reinvested in order to continue growing. After 100 years, the funds were ordered to be divided into two trust shares. One trust share was to be designated for the use of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the city of Philadelphia, Franklin’s adopted city. The other share was to be used for the City of Boston, his place of birth and the State of Massachusetts. Once the 200th anniversary of Franklin’s death was past, these shares were to be distributed. Franklin’s wishes were followed and the funds were disbursed on the very date of the 200th anniversary of his death. Those two trust shares were distributed to the respective states and cities according to Franklin’s instructions. The total funds amounted to 6.5 million dollars. That was a long way to come from a starting point of 6000 pounds.

What do we want to leave as a legacy or in remembrance of our lives? A legacy can make a great deal of difference to many people. We want to leave something good behind us so that we can cause others to have a reason to give thanks.

Copyright 2012 – Clint W. Smith, P.C. – All Rights Reserved

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