American Revolution: Benjamin Franklin

A polymath is a person of wide-range and learning. This is a word used to describe one of the most gifted and skilled people not only of the 18th century but maybe of all time – Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was a patriot of the Revolutionary War. He was known for his abilities and he was interested in a range of topics. Benjamin Franklin was a diplomat, a statesman, an author, a publisher, a scientist and served in the Second Continental Congress, helping to write the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin is even recognized as the person that discovered electricity.

Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. His family was middle class. He was the 15th child born to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. He was the youngest of the boys in the family. As smart as Benjamin Franklin was, he only had two years of formal schooling. His father wanted him to attend school with clergy but only had enough money for the two years and he never graduated from the Boston Latin School. He learned most of what he knew through reading. When he was 12, he became a printing apprentice.

Benjamin Franklin created the first published political cartoon, Join or Die. He also authored Poor Richard’s Almanac which was . When Ben was a teenager, he became a very popular writer. His brother had founded a weekly newspaper and Ben began secretly submitting essays under the name “Silence Dogood”, a widow. He used this fictitious name and identity and offered advice on everything from fashion and marriage to women’s rights and religion. The letters were so popular that he received several marriage proposals from eligible bachelors in Boston. Franklin wrote fourteen essays before revealing himself as their author. Ben Franklin became sick of being his brother’s apprentice, so he left Boston the following year and moved to Philadelphia, his new hometown.

Benjamin Franklin was important to the American Revolution. He served in the Second Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies in America which united in the American Revolutionary War. During this time, he was a vital part of the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. This document announced and explained America’s separation from Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin supported the colonist during the Revolutionary War. He did not agree with what the King of England was doing, especially taxing the colonists. He was helpful in repealing the stamp act.

Because of his experience as a printer and publisher Benjamin Franklin was appointed and held the position of Postmaster from 1737 – 1753. He then held the position with William Hunter, another publisher and printer. On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General.

Ben Franklin always wanted to do things for the public. One of his first public projects was organizing a block watch where he saved money to pave and clean Philadelphia roads. His projects gradually became much bigger. He created pensions, provided welfare for widows and created a volunteer militia. He also built the University of Pennsylvania to educate middle class children. Ben Franklin founded he Pennsylvania Hospital, a hospital built for those that could not afford care. He also built institutions for the mentally disabled, a lending library, fire corps and insurance. These things happened before governments began to provide services to their citizens.

Benjamin Franklin was also a scientist. With a flying kite, he proved that lightning was electricity and invented a rod to prevent it from hitting buildings. He invented bifocal glasses, invented a clean burning stove. His was always more practical than theoretical. With his training as a craftsman, it made him more accomplished as an inventor.

After the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin went on to negotiate and sign the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Benjamin Franklin was one of the American Commissioners in France who negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain ending the American Revolutionary War and getting ownership of land for the US between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River. He also helped draft and sign the United States Constitution. This was his final significant act of public service.

Benjamin Franklin died April 17, 1790, at age 84 in Philadelphia a year after the US Constitution was signed. His funeral was attended by over 20,000 people. In his will, Ben left money to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, which was later used to establish a trade school and a science museum and fund scholarships and other community projects. Benjamin Franklin remains one of the most famous people in U.S. history. His picture is on the $100 bill, and Many different placed in America are named for him.

07 September 2020
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