Happy Birthday! Ben
January 17, 2006 marks the
300th anniversay of the birth of one of American's greatest scientists
and inventors. Franklin was without a doubt the most famous American
of his time.
Born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts,
Franklin 's parents were Josiah and Abiah Folger Franklin. Josiah
was a soap and candlemaker. By the age on 10, Franklin was working
for his father, but didn't enjoy the candlemaking profession. So
after a couple of years he was apprenticed to his brother, James,
For five years, Franklin sought to
master the printers' trade. During this time, he also strove to
improve his education. Franklin read numerous classics and perfected
his writing style.
Over time, Franklin became a newspaper
editor, printer, and merchant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becoming
very wealthy. He spent many years in England and published the famous
Poor Richard's Almanack and Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin founded
what is considered the first public library. During the next several
years, Franklin was instrumental in establishing the first fire
department, a police force, and the Academy of Philadelphia, which
became the University of Pennsylvania. Among Franklin's other inventions
are swim fins, the glass armonica (a musical instrument) and bifocals.
By 1730, Franklin had his own business.
That same year, he married Deborah Read, a woman he met before his
trip to England. Together they had a son, who died at four years
of age; and a daughter, who survived them both.
In the 1740's, Franklin began experimenting
with electricity, which led to the invention of the lightning rod.
Around 1744, Franklin invented a stove which reduced excessive chimney
smoke. The Franklin stove is still in use today.
By 1748, Franklin had sold his printing
business to devote himself to his scientific experiments. His famous
electricity experiment, which included flying a kite during a lightning
storm took place in 1752. In addition to his science projects, Franklin
was elected to the Pennsylvania assembly and held the post for 14
years. In 1753, he was appointed deputy postmaster general. The
following year, Franklin became a Pennsylvania delegate to the intercolonial
congress, which met in Albany. His suggestion to unite the colonies
as a defense against the French and natives was considered premature
In December, 1776, Franklin, age 71,
traveled to France to successfully negotiate a treaty of commerce
and defensive alliance. He remained in France for nine years, working
on trade treaties. Franklin became a hero to the French, and his
company was sought by diplomats and nobility.
Franklin returned to Philadelphia in
1785. Two years later, he became a member of the Constitutional
Convention. Franklin was bedridden during the final year of his
life and died on April 17, 1790. As one of his final public acts,
he signed a petition to the U.S. Congress urging the abolition of
slavery, just two months before his death.
Click below for more articles
of interest on Benjamin Franklin
Franklin's Unholy Ligntning
After 250 Years, We
Still Believe in You, Ben