Welcome to some interesting facts about a famous American.
Benjamin Franklin was a scientist, ambassador, philosopher, statesmen, writer, businessman and celebrated free thinker and wit. He has often been referred to as ‘America’s renaissance man’ and was emblematic of the fledgling American nation.
In Philadelphia, Benjamin’s reputation as an acerbic man of letters grew. His writings were both humorous and satirical, but they also raised the fears of the Pennsylvania governor, William Keith. William Keith was fearful of Benjamin’s talents so offered him a job in England with all expenses paid. Benjamin took the offer, but once in England the governor deserted Franklin, leaving him with no funds.
In 1726, a Quaker Merchant, Mr. Denham offered him a position in Philadelphia. Franklin accepted and sailed back to the US.
On his journey home, Benjamin wrote a list of 13 virtues he thought important for his future life. Amongst these were temperance, frugality, sincerity, justice and tranquillity. He originally had 12, but, since a friend remarked he had great pride, he added a 13th – humility (Imitate Jesus and Socrates)
Science experiments were a hobby of Franklin. This led to the:
- Franklin stove – a mechanism for distributing heat throughout a room.
- The famous kite and key in the thunderstorm. This proved that lightening and electricity were one and the same thing.
- He was the first person to give electricity positive and negative charges
- The first flexible urinary catheter
- Glass harmonica
- Bifocal glasses.
Franklin never patented his inventions, preferring to offer them freely for the benefit of society.
In 1775, he returned to America in conflict. He was one of the five representatives chosen to draw up the American declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson as author.
Franklin was chosen to be America’s ambassador to France, were he worked hard to gain the support of the French in America’s war effort. During his time in French society, Franklin was widely admired, and his portrait hung in many houses.
At the age of 75, the newly formed US government beseeched Franklin to be America’s representative in signing a peace treaty with Great Britain which was signed in 1783.
He was finally replaced as French ambassador by Thomas Jefferson, who paid tribute to his enormous capacity Jefferson remarked ‘I succeed him; no one can replace him.”
“The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterian’s thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker.”
Franklin was a keen debater, but his style was to avoid confrontation and condemnation. He would prefer to argue topics through the asking of awkward questions, not dissimilar to the Greek philosopher Socrates.
Clancy's comment: A clever man in more ways than one.