Benjamin Franklin

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Benjamin Franklin is one of the most accomplished men of all time. During the days when America needed a leader, he stepped up. He helped write the American Constitution and many other documents that helped found the United States. He also invented things like the lightning rod and bifocals. He was a scientist and a philosopher. He was a printer and an economist. He was a librarian and a musician. In fact, it seems, there are few things he was not.

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17th, 1706, in Boston Massachusetts. He was the tenth son out of seventeen children (some were half brothers/sisters to Benjamin Franklin). Josiah was Benjamin?s father while Josiah?s second wife, Abian Folger, was Benjamin?s mother. His father was a soap maker and candlestick maker.

Benjamin?s father wanted him to be a clerk. The problem was that Josiah could only afford to send Benjamin to school for one year but to become a clerk you needed several more.

Since it was now nearly impossible for Benjamin to be a clerk, he became his older brother?s, James, apprentice at the age of thirteen (Bobley, 2136). James was the printer who started The New England Courant. Benjamin loved to write and wanted badly to write for his brother?s paper but knew that James would never let him. So Benjamin started writing letters and signing them as Silence Dogood, a ?fictional widow? who wrote about issues on how women were treated and who could give them advice. He would sneak into the shop at night and slip the letters under his brother?s door. It caught on fast; everyone loved ?Silence Dogood?. After a while Benjamin confessed to James that he all along was writing the letters. James was jealous. So Benjamin ran away in 1723 to Philadelphia.

Benjamin finally found work in Philadelphia and the governor sent him to London promising their will be a business set up for him when he got there. There wasn?t. He was in a strange place with no money and no work. He did find work eventually, as a printer. He stayed in London for several months, and then moved back to Philadelphia.

Benjamin Franklin became the sole owner and editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729 (?Electric Franklin?). Another famous publication was his annual Poor Richard?s Almanack. He was known for his words and also for his printing cartoons. He used pictures and cartoons for the people who could not understand the news or could not read it. Using his printing skills, Benjamin printed paper money. This helped the currency system in America. Americans honor Benjamin as an economist by putting his face on the $100 bill.

Benjamin loved the written language. For some reasons, books were very expensive. It is said that someone could afford to buy a horse but not a book. The Leather Apron Club, Franklin and other printers, started lending books to everyone. They would buy books and lend then to people who needed them or to people who just wanted something to do. In 1731, Benjamin founded the first American circulating library.

Franklin also loved music. He played several instruments. Some of the instruments include the guitar, harp, and violin. His interests in the beauty of simple tunes lead him to build the glass armonica. The glass armonica was a simple musical instrument. To use it you had to dampen your fingers and touch the edge of the spinning glasses of the armonica.

In 1749, Benjamin Franklin retired at the age of 42 a rich man. He needed something to do. He started thinking. He began questioning things. This led him to the famous kite experiment. This experiment is so fixed as a legend so not much is known about it. Benjamin Franklin wrote an autobiography but his most important experiment is not included in it. Just to be safe, Benjamin did not invent electricity. Anyway, on a stormy night with his son, William, he proved that lightning was a form of electricity, not a punishment from God. He attached a piece of metal to the top of a kite and a metal key to the bottom end of the string. When the lightning struck the top of the kite it worked its way down the string to the key. Then he touched the key and a spark was formed. After this he invented the lighting rod. Some of his other inventions include: bifocals, water light bulkheads for ships, the Franklin stove, and an odometer.

?Benjamin stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Indepence, The Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France, The Treaty of Peace between England, France and the United States, and the Constitution? No other individual was more involved in the birth of our nation? (?Electric Franklin?). He also wrote parts of both the Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin did many things in his long life. He lived to the age of 84. He died on April 17th, 1790. 20,000 people attended his funeral. They came out of respect, out of love for this long time hero. He was one of the Founding Fathers of America. He invented many things. He wrote many things that touched peoples? hearts around the world. In his life and in his death, he will always be remembered.