The Southern Junto is an online attempt to imitate the Philadelphia Junto, aka “The Leather Apron Club’ created by American founding father Benjamin Franklin in 1727. The word Junto is an alteration of the Spanish word ‘junta’ meaning meeting. Juntos began to appear around 1623 in Great Britain as discussion or debate groups meeting for a common purpose whether intellectual or business.

Benjamin Franklin’s Junto was a meeting of 12 diverse individuals with the avowed purpose of ‘self improvement’. The majority were tradesmen like Franklin (hence the term Leather Apron Club for the leather apron worn by many tradesmen) with some professionals, clergy and men of letters mixed in. The Junto had a strict format for discussion and prohibited angry discourse. Potential members were required to answer appropriately four questions concerning their intents and state of mind. The meetings were conducted around a series of 24 questions asked of all the members at each meeting, Discussion of the answers were encouraged to be conducted in the form of ‘Socratic Questioning’ rather than statements of opinion.

The Junto was intended to aid the members in self improvement and contribute to the betterment of local society.

From the Philadelphia Junto arose several American institutions that we recognize and rely upon today. They include,

*The first lending library
*The first Police Department
*The first fire department
*The first American public university
*The first public hospital

The Southern Junto does not attempt to impose the Socratic Questionning format on member submissions and discussions although we encourage learning about that method (today often referred to as ‘critical thinking’) and encourage our members to create and engage in Socratic Questioning discussions on their own.

The Southern Junto is a bit of a misnomer in that we encourage membership from any region of the United States and abroad. However we do hope that members might utilize connections and stratagems from this site to for their own local, perhaps in person, meetings for civic improvement and civil debate.


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