Benjamin Franklin is the most highly regarded Founding Father who never served as president. He may just have done it had he not died one year after George Washington’s inaugural inauguration. Who knows if American voters would have been as receptive toward placing their country in the hands of an octogenarian as they apparently are today?
Franklin was probably happier off as the first American official to be received by a foreign government. When he wasn’t garnering French support for American independence (a mission that would ultimately, if not somewhat indirectly, nudge France along the path to its own revolution), he was surely enjoying the sights, sounds and people of Paris.
On second thought, the people of Paris were probably annoying douchebags back then, too. But at least Ben was two for three.
Why do we still regard Franklin so highly? Because he was a man living a comfortable life, having started multiple successful businesses long before Americans started a beef with Parliament. Had he remained neutral, and used that so big brain of his for personal gain only, he’d probably have been quite alright.
He instead risked his neck to found a free country. And that’s why we honor him; in doing so, we welcome the spirit of independence into our hearts.