U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, spoke about Ben Franklin’s legacy Monday at Franklin College, located just south of Indianapolis. (
By Sydney Byerly
September 11, 2023
FRANKLIN, Ind.—U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, really admires Benjamin Franklin’s humility and hope for the future of America. He said so himself.
Franklin College, named for Benjamin Franklin when it was founded just 44 years after his death, hosted the senator for its opening convocation lecture to talk with students, faculty and community members about how they can look to the founding father as an example of an exemplary citizen. The event also was an early commemoration of Constitution Day, the national observance of the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.
“We need more Americans to innovate. The traits and practices that lead to these discoveries, the ones Franklin lived out and left behind for us, these are: reason, pragmatism, humility, selflessness, faith in the future, sometimes against all odds,” Young said. “These aren’t just part of Benjamin Franklin’s character, they’ve become part of our nation. We inherited these from Franklin. … We need more Franklin spirit in our nation.”
Young used the time to highlight Franklin’s character, citing how much the founding father invested and believed in the future of the nation. He said Franklin’s humility misled people to believe he did less than he truly did.
“Franklin used his precious time and talents to shape the course of his own era and to shape the very course of human history. He left a model for all of us to do the same in ways big and small,” he said.
“Similarly, I know that you, each and every one of you will do your part in your own way to ensure that our nation and its Constitution will stand and inspire long after we’re all gone.”
After his speech, Young answered questions from political science students that touched on bipartisan efforts in Supreme Court nominations, the foreign relations committee, and small businesses and entrepreneurship, among other things.
Franklin College juniors and political science majors Amy Garrido Portillo and Cara Mullens said having the senator speak on campus added to what they’ve been learning in their classes and gives them another point of reference in discussions.
“It also just humanizes [politicians] because I think it’s really easy for us to study these people and see how they vote on the bills they create and kind of desensitize ourselves to the fact that they are people, this is their career. So I think just seeing him in person and getting to hear from him was a beneficial experience overall,” Mullens said.
Mullens and Garrido Portillo both felt Young “danced around” some of the questions.
“I think it highlighted the line that politicians do have to walk,” Mullens said. “He’s very clearly walking a fine line because he knows that if he says something just a little bit distasteful and not on that line, I mean, he’s risking losing reelection. I just feel like he dodged a lot.”
Agreeing with her classmate, Garrido Portillo said, “[Politicians] just have to be careful with what they’re saying, how they’re going about it, but he did a very good job of keeping us engaged. He was very personable.”
Franklin College President Kerry Prather said the event was a success in his book.
“I think it’s important for us to celebrate Constitution Day. I thought today was great, and I think that was really inspiring for students to hear that the spirit of innovation that we’re trying to foster on campus is really what has kind of driven this country since its founding days, so good for him for tying into our innovation concept.”
Prather said conversations like this will help the college’s students to keep an open mind and give people with differing opinions their time and ears.
“I think the whole idea of bringing different perspectives to campus, I think this company, this year’s convocation series, is a really good one. Not all of the scholars we bring to campus are household names like this one. But they all have really great perspectives to share with the students,” Prather said.
The next lecture in the series will be on Oct. 3, when animal conservationist Pablo Borboroglu, Ph.D., will talk about the challenges of conservation work and how we can protect penguins.
Sydney Byerly is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.