Benjamin Franklin

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Ben Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. He was the 10th of 17 children. He grew up in in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the Boston School of Latin but left the school at the age of ten. He became an apprentice to his older brother at the age of 12 and when he was 15 his brother founded the New-England Courant, the colony’s first independent newspaper.

His true desire was to be a writer but he knew his brother would not give him the chance to write. He decided to pen several letters under the pseudonym of Mrs. Silence Dogood. His letters became a popular conversation piece around town and after the sixteenth letter he admitted that he was the author. His brother became upset with him and as a result Ben decided to leave and became a fugitive in the process.

His travels brought him to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he went to work in a print house once more. After a few years he traveled to London at the behest of the Pennsylvania Governor who sought to establish the second independent newspaper in the Colonies and hoped that Franklin would be able to acquire the necessary equipment. He returned from England 3 years later and went to work for Thomas Denham as a shop keeper and book keeper for Denham’s business. As a publisher and businessman, Franklin helped to establish the Philadelphia Gazzette and the Philadelphische Zeitung as well as the first network of inter-colony newspapers. Wishing to share his own insights with the world, Franklin also published the Poor Richard’s Almanac.

He was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. He also established Philadelphia’s first Fire Department and later its first insurance company against losses due to fire. He gained further recognition serving as the Postmaster General.

As a scientist he made important discoveries in the fields of population demographics, ocean currents, electricity, meteorology, and the wave theory of light. As an inventor he is responsible for the lightning rod, bifocal glasses, flexible catheter and the Franklin stove.

Franklin later became a national hero in America when, as an agent for several colonies, he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. He was also instrumental in obtaining the support of the French during the American Revolution. After the war, he served as the Governor of Pennsylvania and he played an important role in establishing the structure of our government.

After many years of fighting health problems resulting from obesity he succumbed to pleuritis (the inflation of the lining around the lungs). He died on April 17, 1790.

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