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A Zodiac of Founding Fathers: Ben FranklinfranklinImage

I was watching a documentary on Benjamin Franklin last night and was struck (not for the first time) by how much of a Capricorn he was. In fact, he could be considered the American icon of that sign of the zodiac.

Franklin was born on Jan. 17, 1706 (Gregorian) and he had the Sun and Venus in Capricorn. He got a rough start in life. After deserting his apprenticeship at his brother’s print shop at 17, Ben fled to Philadelphia and started working his way up the ladder of success from the lowest rung. This, in itself, is pure Capricorn. Capricorns often face adversity early in life, but these difficulties only fuel their ambition and tenacity. (Click here to go to Astrodatabase and see a speculative horoscope.)

Some details from Franklin’s early life virtually scream of Capricorn. For example, as a young man he made a list of all the virtues he regarded as being essential for success. He then kept a daily log which recorded his attempts to live up to these


Capricorn’s love to make lists and they are always testing themselves. Of course, Capricorns are also realists. Franklin tried this experiment for a short time and then decided that there was definitely a limit to his ability to be virtuous. Once he found this limit, he dropped the experiment and moved on.

Of course, certain Capricorn virtues, such as hard work and ambition, came easily to Franklin. Franklin rose quickly in the printing trade largely because his willingness to work long hours and handle tough jobs. However, his biographers point out that ol’ Ben didn’t just work hard; he also made sure that the right people saw him working hard.

We often think of LeoX as being the Sun sign most concerned with what people think of them, but Capricorns also know the value public perception. They understand that having a reputation for hard work is just as important as actually doing the work.

Of course, not everything Franklin did was Capricorn-like. He freely admitted that as a young man he had numerous “adventures” with “low” women, behavior we wouldn’t normally associate with cautious Capricorn.

Here we see Franklin’s Sagittarius Mars, combined with his Venus in Capricorn, at work. Though Mars in Sagittarius is not usually highly sexed, combined with Venus in earth Capricorn it becomes much more physical. People with Venus in Capricorn don’t like pretention in their relationships. Mars in Sagittarius likes adventure and is prone to act on impulse. So these fleeting contacts with women who understood the real world (as risky as they were to both his reputation and his health) worked well for young Benjamin.

When Franklin finally decided to settle down with the mother of his only child, he did so without resorting to the tradition of marriage. This might seem amazingly unconventional for a Sun sign Capricorn, but it fits very nicely with his Sagittarian Mars. People with Mars in Sagittarius value their freedom. Even if Franklin had no intention of being unfaithful to his common law wife, the idea that his fidelity was not a legal obligation would have been a comfort.

Dispite these diversions, Ben Franklin still stands out as the quintesencial Capricorn largely because of the famous aphorisms he published in "Poor Richard's Almanac". These snippets of advice like "Early to bed and early to rise make a young man healthy, wealthy and wise," and "A penny saved is a penny earned" have become part of the American venacular, and function to express the Capricorn and Saturn influence in all of us.

We do not have a reliable time of birth for Ben Franklin, so there are a lot of things we cannot know about his horoscope. Obviously, many other signs of the zodiac were at work in the life of this complex and amazingly versatile man. But, it is the Capricorn in Franklin’s nature that has most captures our imagination.

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