Renaissance Men – Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Picture

 

Benjamin Franklin

Vitals:

  • Born:   January 17, 1706
  • Died:   April 17, 1790
  • Known For:   Being an American icon and a founding father of the United States.

One of the most popular figures in American history, Benjamin Franklin is known for many things, one being his inventions.  He invented the lightning rod and is often attributed the discover of electricity from his kite and key experiments!  He invented bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter.

His also known writing and printing.  He wrote a series of letters for his older brother’s paper under the pseudonym Mrs. Silence Dogood.  These saw great popularity among the community, until his older brother found out who was writing them.  Franklin later went on to publish several papers including The Pennsylvania Chronicle, The Pennsylvania Gazzetteand Poor Richard’s Almanac, which increased his fame and make him very wealthy.

He was a politician, statesman, and diplomat.  He was the postmaster general in 1753.  In 1757, Franklin was sent to England to protest involvement of the Penn family’s involvement with the colonies.  He was sent back to London in 1765 to protest the stamp act imposed on the colonies.  He even served as Pennsylvania’s 6th Governor from 1785-1788.

He was well educated.  Benjamin Franklin attended school briefly, but couldn’t afford to continue at the time.  He instead self educated through any source he could find.  He learned trades through apprenticeships.  Eventually his brilliance became so well known that Harvard and Yale gave him honorary degrees in 1753.  He then received an honorary doctorate from Oxford for his scientific achievements.  He may not have had the formal education, but he had the drive to be educated non the less!

But what is most important about Benjamin Franklin is that he stood on his principles.  Franklin was a revolutionary.  He was one of the most important figures in the American Revolution.  And he loved England.  Few realize Franklin’s love for England, but he would never return was the revolution began.  His belief in what was right and true outweighed his love for England.  On top of that, Franklin and his son William were on opposing sides in the revolution.  When the british evacuated, William went with them and never return to America.  Benjamin Franklin sacrificed a lot for the Revolution, but he knew it was bigger than him.

Finally, Franklin was also an abolitionist.  Having owned slaves earlier in his life, he devoted his final years trying to pass anti-slavery laws.  He was ahead of his time, at a time when many of the founding fathers owned slaves (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe).

Benjamin Franklin was a true Polymath.  Possibly the first true American Renaissance Man.  Inventor, scientist, politician, revolutionary.  His life is something from which we can all learn a thing or two.

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