Benjamin Franklin embodied the public face and potential of the United States perhaps better than any other early American. His meteorological observations, astrological notes and discoveries in electricity laid the foundation for worldwide advances in science. He was an author, printer, astrologer, inventor, scientist, political leader, statesman, diplomat, philosopher, popular rebel, musician, and ultimately, a Founding Father of the United States of America.
Franklin is known by historians as "the First American," and was a celebrity in his own time, both in America and abroad.
He began writing for his brother's newspaper at age 16, posing as a fictional middle-aged widow under the name "Mrs. Silence Dogwood."
Franklin made the round-trip journey to Europe four times in his life, the first at age 17 on behalf of the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Initiated as a Freemason in 1731, he became Grand Master in just three years.
Franklin founded the first lending library in America.
Franklin was a vegetarian just like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Vincent Van Gogh, Steven Spielberg, Leonardo da Vinci
, Thomas Edison
, Bruce Lee
, Isaac Newton
, Steve Jobs
, Albert Einstein
, and Benjamin Franklin
Franklin founded the first American fire department.
the widely-used Franklin Stove. the odometer, and swim fins.
He served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence along with Thomas Jefferson.
Franklin invented the lightning rod, saying "would not these pointed rods probably draw the electrical fire silently out of a cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible mischief?"
He was the first to label electrical charges as "negative" and "positive."
the flexible urinary catheter.
He played four musical instruments.
Franklin's first son, William, became governor of New Jersey. His second died of smallpox at the age of 4.
Poor Richard's Almanac, Franklin's publication of weather forecasts, astronomy, astrology and folk wisdom, sold close to 10,000 copies per year.
Franklin pioneered experiments in evaporative cooling after noticing he was cooler in a wet shirt than a dry shirt.
He received the Copley Medal in 1753, an honor he shares with Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein
, George Howard Darwin (the son of Charles Darwin), Neils Bohr, and Ivan Pavlov.
Believing that inherited wealth was a source of corruption, he attempted to insert a provision into the Constitution that would have put a ceiling on the wealth a citizen could
Franklin was President of the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage and authored a petition to end slavery in 1789, 74 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.
Charlie Munger who is Warren Buffett’s #2, is a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin and has an Almanack called Poor Charlies’ Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger similar to Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack.
April 17, 1790: Franklin died at home, 30-year friend and frequent correspondent Polly Stevens by his side. His last words were "A dying man can do nothing easily."
100 years after Franklin singed the Declaration of Independence, Alexander Graham Bell
showcased his invention of the telephone for the first time at a Centennial Exhibition on June 25, 1876.
Prior to his death, Franklin bequeathed today's equivalent of $4400 each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia. His instructions were that the money was to gather interest for 200 years before being spent on worthy causes. At fruition in 1990, the trusts were worth a cumulative seven million dollars. Both cities devoted the funds to the cause of education.
Franklin is buried in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. His neighbors in rest include Dr. Benjamin Rush, the "Father of American Psychiatry;" the Founder of America's first hospital, Dr. Thomas Bond; and Dr. Philip Syng Physick, the "Father of American Surgery."