Facts About Benjamin Franklin


Michael Benton, Contributor

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facts about benjamin franklinBenjamin Franklin led an eccentric life. For every challenge that he faced and every injustice he perceived, Franklin gave his best effort towards a sensible solution. He may have been the greatest ever American polymath; titles for Franklin could include printer, publisher, author, satirist, scientist, inventor, postmaster, politician and diplomat. There are many interesting facts about Benjamin Franklin that make him one of the most interesting subjects of U.S. historical study. While many remember him for his diplomatic role during the American War of Independence, Franklin had a long and illustrious public life well before the Revolution commenced. He started as a humble printer's apprentice in Boston, but his talents brought him to accomplish much more than the average colonist. In 1734, he became the Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Philadelphia and in 1751, Franklin was appointed Deputy Postmaster-General of North America for the British colonial government. Franklin's success rode on the newspaper he owned, The Pennsylvania Gazette, as well as his affiliation with a group of ambitious like-minded men called the Junto. This group helped Franklin establish the first subscription library in the world.

Of Benjamin Franklin, fun facts are numerous and must include his bounty of inventions. The list of Franklin's inventions are as diverse as they are surprising. At the age of 11, Franklin crafted wooden flippers to help him swim faster. In 1741, he announced the arrival of his innovative cast-iron stove which many still refer to as the Franklin Stove; it included a hollow baffle and inverted flue that drew the smoke out of the house while also retaining more heat. Unfortunately, the stove did not work well without constant refueling and thus, sales were low. After his famous kite experiment of 1752 in which he proved that lightning was indeed electric, Franklin designed the first lightning rod for the purpose of protecting wooden buildings from catching fire in a lightning storm. The rod carried the current of the lightning bolt from the roof of the building safely to the ground. One fact about Benjamin Franklin that proves his compassion for community and society is that he refused to take out a patent on any of his inventions believing that others would enjoy them just as he had freely enjoyed the convenience of inventions designed by others.

The popularity of Benjamin Franklin's writing also demonstrated his influence in America and around the world. His first foray into writing was during his apprenticeship at his brother's print shop in Boston. Although his anonymous letters brought great attention to his brother's newspaper, James Franklin was not happy when he discovered the author was his young apprentice. In Philadelphia, Franklin began an annual publication called "Poor Richard's Almanack" in which he included poems, essays and satire along with the usual meteorological, astronomical and astrological predictions of the common almanac. It was in this publication that Franklin penned many aphorisms and sayings that have survived in the modern American lexicon. The "Almanack" received widespread readership in America and even made it to Europe; in 1797, Napoleon had it translated into Italian and spread throughout his territory in Northern Italy. Facts about Benjamin Franklin are often more interesting than fiction!