Benjamin Franklin: The Greatest Contributor to Our Society
fact=born 01-17-1706, died 04-17-1790 age 84
fact=one of the most memorable television characters was named "Benjamin Franklin Pierce"
fact=basic philosophy: make life better for the widest number of people
fact=journalist
fact=publisher
fact=author
fact=philanthropist
fact=abolitionist
fact=public servant
fact=scientist
fact=librarian
fact=diplomat
fact=inventor
fact=statesman
fact=printer
fact=postmaster
fact=Artists begged to paint his portrait
fact=Avid reader despite little formal education
fact=Basically invented the concept that became known as America
fact=Before it became "Tennessee", the state was called "Franklin"
fact=Coined the phrases "electric shock" and electrician
fact=Constitution Convention, proposed the "great compromise" that created a House with proportional representation and a Senate with equal votes per state
fact=Diplomat: convinced France to be an ally to the upstart United States in its quest to gain independence from Great Britain
fact=Established two fields in the physical sciences: electricity and meteorology
fact=Face appears on the $100 bill, one of three non-Presidents to appear on a U.S. bill
fact=Figured out magnetism and how "opposites attract". Coined the terms "positive" and "negative" or "plus" and "minus" for magnet poles. He also discovered the differences between conductors and insulators and condensers
fact=Firm believer in capitalism just as it was getting started in the world
fact=First American ambassador
fact=First American geographer
fact=First American meteorologist
fact=First oceanographer. Added much to the understanding of the Gulf Stream, published the first map of it
fact=Founded the American Philosophical Society which today is one of the nation's premiere scholarly associations
fact=Founding father with Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the rest
fact=He knew the spy vs. spy game well since he was constantly surrounded by spies the entire time he was in France
fact=Introduced a bill to pave streets
fact=Introduced a bill to start the first civil police department
fact=Invented a watertight bulkhead for ships
fact=Invented an odometer
fact=Invented several medical apparatuses used in his day including the catheter. He formulated theories about blood circulation
fact=Invented the "Armonica" which he called his favorite because it gave him the greatest pleasure. It was a foot pedal driven musical instrument. He was inspired after hearing someone play Handel's "Water Music" on tuned wine glasses. His instrument was a popular hit on America and Europe
fact=Invented the first battery
fact=Invented the means of objective scientific testing - the blind protocol or blind test. Placebos. Now required by the FDA to approve all medications
fact=Inventor: near equal to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell
fact=Leader of the world's first successful revolution against a European colonial power
fact=Negotiated British treaties with the American Indians
fact=President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery
fact=Probably the most famous person in the world during his day. Beloved on two continents. His face appeared on coins in several countries in Europe. His secret: he gave attention to anyone, regardless of their social status
fact=Scientist: best of his century, right up there with da Vinci 15th, Galileo 16th, Newton 17th, and Einstein 20th. The other famous scientists of his day sought out Franklin to confer and collaborate
fact=Served in Second Continental Congresses
fact=Staunch supporter of a free press
fact=Strong believer in, and greatly worked towards, crafting a system based on representational democracy
fact=There is a retail store named "Ben Franklin's"
fact=Women of all ages and all classes clamored to have his attention, even when he was in his 70's. Some say that he started the sexual revolution
fact=1716: at age 10 he invented swimming fins to help him swim faster in the Boston Harbor
fact=1722: at age 16, he secretly wrote newspaper articles under the pen name "Silence Dogood". Thus, he basically invented the genre of American folksy humor. This style was adopted later by Mark Twain and Will Rogers
fact=1723: at age 17 moved from Boston to Philadelphia and started his own print shop. Started the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper. In it, he produced the first political cartoon
fact=1731: Started the first lending library, now known as the Philadelphia Library
fact=1732 - 1758 - published "Poor Richard's Almanac". Still available at Amazon.com. Dave Barry introduction
fact=1738: Started the first civil fire department
fact=1738: discovered a way to improve chimneys to produce less smoke indoors
fact=1739: Invented a new type of street light
fact=1740: Franklin stove to use for heating and cooking. It was more fuel efficient. Standard for a century. Not patented (because he wanted to help others)
fact=1748: at age 42 he retired from printing business. It provided his income for many years afterwards
fact=1751: with Dr. Thomas Bond, obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish the first hospital in America - the Pennsylvania Hospital
fact=1752: Invented the lightning rod, basically the most perfect invention. No upgrades. No repairs
fact=1752: discovered electricity with this famous kite experiment He later invented lightning bells which would jingle when lightning was in the air. An electrical unit of measure is called the "franklin"
fact=1752: started America's first fire insurance company
fact=1759: Founded the University of Pennsylvania, then known as The Academy
fact=1776 - 1783: The whole of France simply adored the man while he was a diplomat there. Spoke English and French. When he arrived in Paris in 1776, it created such public frenzy that was unmatched until Lindbergh landed there 150 years later. It was fashionable for wealthy families to hang a portrait of Franklin in their parlors
fact=1776: One of five members on the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote "…we hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable". Franklin edited it to be "…we hold these truths to be self-evident"
fact=1780: Invented bi-focal lens for himself
fact=1782: published a paper that proposed, for the first time, daylight saving time. It was a half joke at the time
fact=1783: present for the signing of the Treaty of Paris. That made him the only American to sign The Declaration, The U.S. Constitution and the Treaty of Paris