Why did Benjamin Franklin start a group called The Junto?

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Franklin formed the Junto club in 1727 in order to hold discussions on morals, philosophy, politics, and other similar issues. Franklin aimed to bring together intelligent men with different areas of expertise for these discussions. Members were expected to be well-read and able to bring new ideas and topics of discussion to the meetings.

Ultimately, the goal of the Junto seems to have been the improvement of those in the group, as well as that of society as a whole. The club developed a list of questions to help guide their discussion and build connections between Junto members, as well as with those outside the group. The questions also focused on society and what the members felt it was lacking, as they sought to address these issues and bring about improvement. Proposals that arose from the group included building hospitals and the University of Pennsylvania and creating a volunteer militia, a library, and a fire company.

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The Junto was created as a sort of philosophical discussion club, but one aimed at undertaking practical reforms. Franklin called the Junto a "club of mutual improvement," and its members were members of what might be called the Philadelphia bourgeoisie, mostly businessmen, merchants, and professionals. Franklin himself had achieved considerable wealth and prominence as a printer, and the Junto was an important step toward establishing himself as a sort of civic leader. Each member of the Junto would come to meetings with a topic for discussion, and each also agreed to contribute an essay for discussion on a regular basis. Franklin intended that these debates would become a sort of forum for civic improvement, and indeed the Junto was more than a simple debate society. Its first contribution to Philadelphia society was to establish a lending library, the first in the British American colonies. The Junto gradually turned from debates about moral philosophy to an organization devoted to scientific inquiry. It eventually developed into the American Philosophical Society, an organization that still exists today.

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