Benjamin Franklin One of the Founding Fathers of the United States


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Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, comedian, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of 17. He wanted to seek a new beginning. He worked in several printer shops around the city when he first arrived, but he was not happy with the immediate events that took place. Franklin was persuaded by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London a few months after working in a printing shop.

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He wanted Franklin to get the necessary equipment to set up another Philadelphia newspaper. Seeing Keith’s promises to back up an empty newspaper, Franklin worked in a printer’s shop as a typesetter in what is now St. Bartholomew-the-Great’s Church in London’s Smithfield region. With his observations and ideas about electricity, he was a major figure in American understanding and the development of physics in the scientific field. He is best known as an inventor for the lightning rod, bifocals (a pair of eyeglasses with two lenses of different focal lengths) and the Franklin oven. He created many more innovations such as swim fins, catheter in the urine, and armonica.

He founded several civic organizations such as the Library Company, the first ever fire department in Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania University. For his early and tiring fight for colonial unity, Benjamin Franklin earned the title of ‘The First American,’ first as a London writer and spokesman for several colonies. He provided a typical example of the new American country as the first U.S. Ambassador to France. 

With the empirical principles of understanding, Franklin had a good foundation in describing the American spirit as a combination of the pragmatic ideals of thrift, hard work, literacy, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to both political and religious authoritarianism. Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23.

Benjamin Franklin became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard’s Almanack. After 1767, he was with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary view or attitude towards and criticisms of British policies. He was the first president of the Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. 

He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he put in an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. He was also an accomplished diplomat.

Franklin was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive French American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial military weapons, ammunition, and equipment from France. He was eventually promoted to deputy postmaster general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this allowed him to set up the first national communications network. During the revolution, he became the very first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics. Franklin was also active in national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania.

He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the late 1750s, he started arguing against slavery and later became an abolitionist. Upon Denham’s death, Franklin returned to his former trade. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredit. The following year he became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations. Over time, his commentary, and his positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man earned him a great deal of social respect. But even after Franklin had achieved fame as a scientist and statesman, he signed his letters with the ‘B. Franklin, Printer.

In 1732, Ben Franklin published the first German-language newspaper in America – Die Philadelphische Zeitung – although it failed after only one year, because four other newly founded German papers quickly dominated the newspaper marke. Franklin printed Moravian religious books in German. Franklin often visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania staying at the Moravian Sun Inn. In a 1751 pamphlet on demographic growth and its implications for the colonies, he called the Pennsylvania Germans ‘Palatine Boors’ who could never acquire the ‘Complexion’ of the English settlers and referred to ‘Blacks and Tawneys’ as weakening the social structure of the colonies. Although Franklin apparently reconsidered shortly thereafter, and the phrases were taken off from all later printings of the pamphlet, his views may have played a role in his political defeat in 1764.

Franklin saw the printing press as a device to instruct colonial Americans in moral virtue. In Benjamin Franklin’s Journalism, Ralph Frasca argues he saw this as a service to God, because he understood moral virtue in terms of actions. Doing good provides a service to God. Despite his own moral lapses, Franklin saw himself as someone who could help to instruct Americans in morality. 

He tried to influence American moral life through construction of a printing network based on a chain of partnerships from the Carolinas to New England. Franklin thereby invented the first newspaper chain. It was more than a business venture, for like many publishers since, he believed that the press had a public-service duty.

Benjamin was part of the five-member committee that helped draft the Declaration of Independence, in which the 13 American colonies declared their freedom from British rule. That same year, Congress sent Franklin to France to enlist that nation’s help with the Revolutionary War. In 1752, he conducted his famous kite experiment and demonstrated that lightning is electricity. Franklin also coined a number of electricity-related terms, including battery, charge and conductor.

In addition to electricity, Franklin studied a number of other topics, including ocean currents, meteorology, causes of the common cold and refrigeration. He developed the Franklin stove, which provided more heat while using less fuel than other stoves, and bifocal eyeglasses, which allow for distance and reading use.

His life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coins like the Franklin half dollar. Franklin is also seen on the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references 

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