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SCIENCE HERO:
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
by Gregory from Sulphur

Benjamin Franklin (teachpol.tcnj.edu)

People’s heroes are usually individuals who are very famous for doing something very well. Benjamin Franklin is my hero because he accomplished much in his long lifetime. He was a successful printer and writer. He is also credited with the discovery of electricity, even though that is not historically correct. He was also a brilliant inventor, and he started many establishments that exist today. Franklin was most famous for his witty and wise sayings.

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He was the fifteenth child out of seventeen of Josiah and Abiah Franklin. When he was twelve, he became an apprentice of his older brother, James, who worked as a printer. Franklin would sometimes write letters signed, “Mrs. Silence Dogood” and leave them in the door of the printing press. Not knowing Benjamin wrote them, James was very impressed with the letters and printed them in his newspaper. When Benjamin finally admitted that he wrote them, James’s friends were very impressed, but James was very angry with Ben. The two brothers argued often, and James sometimes beat Benjamin. At age seventeen, Benjamin decided to run away to Pennsylvania.

Franklin worked for several printing presses until 1729, when he acquired a press of his own called The Pennsylvania Gazette. He printed this newspaper from 1729-1766, but he achieved greater success and fame when he published Poor Richard’s Almanac from 1733-1758. It was in this almanac that he printed his wise and witty sayings that are still well-known today. In 1730, he married the woman of his dreams, Deborah Read. She was the daughter of his first landlady in Philadelphia. They had two sons and a daughter.

Franklin With Kite (bensguide.gpo.gov)
Franklin was not just a printer, however. He was also a very brilliant scientist and inventor. He wanted to prove that lightening was a type of electricity, so he performed his famous kite and key experiment. When lightening struck the kite, the bolt traveled down the kite, struck the key, and caused a spark. He proved that lightening was a type of electricity and, over time, people began believing that he had discovered electricity. His discovery helped him to develop the lightening rod, which helped protect buildings from lightening. The bolt traveled down the rod and into the ground. He also invented other common devices, such as bifocals and a type of stove. He discovered that pouring oil on rough seas would calm them. He also developed the idea of Daylight Saving Time. He started many businesses which still exist today, such as the lending library, the fire department, and The American Philosophical Society.

Franklin was also a civil leader and politician. When disputes between Britain and the colonies arose, Franklin helped the colonies win their freedom. He helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also sent to France to help convince them to help the colonies. After America won independence, Franklin became the only person to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790, at age 84. He was buried in the Christ Church, in Philadelphia, beside his wife. In his will, he left $5,000 each to Boston and Philadelphia. Part of the amount was to be used in 100 years, and the rest was to be used in 200 years. Benjamin Franklin is my hero because he accomplished so much in his lifetime, but he remained very modest about his achievements. He was not only a scientist, but a printer, a civil leader, and a founding father. He remains, to this day, the most famous citizen of Philadelphia.


Written by Gregory from Sulphur
Last changed on: 5/15/2006

Benjamin Franklin

Archiving Early America View two short films about Ben Franklin on this website: The Ben Franklin Story: The Inventive Genius (Part I) and The Ben Franklin Story: America's Diplomat (Part II).


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
 

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