Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ben Franklin is 300 today

From the Wikipedia article on Benjamin Franklin:

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most prominent of Founders and early political figures and statesmen of the United States. Considered the earliest of the Founders, Franklin was noted for his curiosity, ingenuity and diversity of interests. His wit and wisdom is proverbial to this day. More than anyone else, he shaped the American Revolution despite never holding national elective office. As a leader of the Enlightenment he had the attention of scientists and intellectuals all across Europe. As agent in London before the Revolution, and Minister to France during, he more than anyone defined the new nation in the minds of Europe. His success in securing French military and financial aid was decisive for American victory over Britain. He invented the lightning rod; he invented the notion of colonial unity; he invented the idea of America; historians hail him as the "First American". The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will mark Franklin's 300th Birthday in January 2006, with a wide array of exhibitions, and events citing Franklin's extraordinary accomplishments throughout his illustrious career.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a tallow-maker, 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. He formed both the first public lending library and fire department in America as well as the Junto, a political discussion club.

He became a national hero in America when he convinced Parliament to repeal the hated Stamp Act. A diplomatic genius, Franklin was almost universally admired among the French as American minister to Paris, and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. From 1775 to 1776, Franklin was Postmaster General under the Continental Congress and from 1785 to his death in 1790 was President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania.

Franklin was interested in science and technology, carrying out his famous electricity experiments and invented the Franklin stove, medical catheter, lightning rod, swimfins, glass harmonica, and bifocals. He also played a major role in establishing the higher education institutions that would become the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin and Marshall College. In addition, Franklin was a noted linguist, fluent in five languages. He also practiced and published on astrology (see Poor Richard's Almanac).

Franklin was also noted for his philanthropy and several extramarital liaisons, including that which produced his illegitimate Loyalist son William Franklin, later the colonial governor of New Jersey. Towards the end of his life, he became one of the most prominent early American abolitionists. Today Franklin is pictured on the U.S. $100 bill.


At 12:16 PM, January 17, 2006, Blogger Melinda said...

This has nothing to do with your informative post on Franklin... but your last post on my blog made me choke on my coffee IN THE COMPUTER LAB! Now I understand why we're not allowed to have food at the computers...

Thanks for the morning sunshine! :)

At 4:57 AM, January 24, 2006, Blogger catlover926 said...

WTF?? You look all different!


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