Benjamin Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his ideas, inventions, social activities, and the undying spirit of learning. The man who never received any formal education but his wise words have become milestones in the sands of time. His early development as a voracious reader and quick learner helped him acquire fluency in more than five foreign languages.
Benjamin Franklin was also one of the founding fathers of the United States. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton made up the group of American revolutionary leaders known as the “Founding Fathers”. Between 1760s and 1820s, they united the Thirteen Colonies, oversaw the American War of Independence from Great Britain, established the United States of America, and crafted a framework of the Federal Government of the United States.
Born: 17 January 1706, Boston, USA
Died: 17 April 1790, Philadelphia, USA
On his 317th birth anniversary today, we have highlighted a few interesting yet less known facts about Benjamin Franklin:
- Early Life: Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He attended Boston Latin School but could not complete his education owning to lack of money; instead he continued his education through reading voraciously. He began assisting his father in his tallow-chandler and soap-boiling business when he was ten years old.
- Passion for reading: Since childhood, he was passionately fond of reading and used to spend all his money on buying books. At age of 12, Franklin joined his brother James’s printing firm as per his father’s advice. Franklin’s inclination towards book reading quickly made him a valuable asset to his brother. Now he had access to better books. Franklin was able to borrow books from booksellers’ apprentices on occasion, read them all night in his chamber, and return the next morning.
- In October 1723, at age of 17, Franklin ran away from Philadelphia to New York with only a few dollars in his pocket. There he worked in several printing shops, but his immediate prospects were unsatisfactory.
- Man of ideas: His pamphlet ‘A Dissertation upon Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain’ which was published in 1725 argued the different facets of human behaviour and its outcomes.
- Marriage: Franklin married Deborah Read on September 1, 1730 and had two children. Deborah never accompanied Franklin on any of his extended travels to Europe due to her phobia of the sea water. In November 1769, Deborah wrote to Franklin, stating that she was unwell due to “dissatisfied anxiety” caused by his prolonged absence. He did not return, and he proceeded on his business as usual. Deborah Read died of a stroke on December 14, 1774, while Franklin was on his extended mission to Great Britain.
- Success as an author: In 1733, Franklin began publishing the well-known Poor Richard’s Almanack under the pseudonym Richard Saunders. Until 1758, he sold roughly ten thousand copies every year, and it quickly became a cult classic. In 1741, Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America. In 1758, he published The Way to Wealth. Franklin’s autobiography, which began in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the genre’s masterpieces.
- His contributions to the establishment of the Academy of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania) are gigantic and his self-education was recognized by Harvard, Yale, Oxford (England), and Andrews (Scotland) which honoured him with prestigious degrees.
- The rocking chair was invented by Ben. Having trouble with the spellings, Ben also invented his own line of alphabets getting rid of c, j, q, w, x and y and even published his idea but was later turned down.
- ‘Join or Die’: His famous cartoon ‘Join or die’ that appeared in his ‘Pennsylvania Gazette’ newspaper showed the outcome of England’s and France’s conflict over the Ohio Valley.
- Benjamin Franklin was always afraid of debts after seeing many of his friend’s succumbing under the pressure of debts.
- The existence of Gulf Stream was the result of Ben’s curiosity; he measured the ocean’s temperature and reasoned himself over the longer duration of the westbound trip.
- When Franklin was stationed in France as an ambassador, his wit and diplomacy helped to the development of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 that eventually ended the Revolutionary war.
- In 1776, Franklin was among the five men who drafted and signed the ‘Declaration of Independence’ with Thomas Jefferson as its author and was also appointed as the commissioner to Canada.
- Benjamin Franklin had also worked against the act of slavery and was also not in favour of liquor. He had also engraved many articles promoting the abolition of slavery and even petitioned the US Congress provoking to them to end slavery in 1790.
- After his wife Deborah’s death, at the age of 74, he approached a French widow, named Madame Helvetius for marriage but his proposal was turned down.
- Benjamin Franklin had also helped monetarily in building America’s first hospital and also persuaded many to donate in this noble cause. In 1749, he organised 24 trustees from the prominent citizens of Pennsylvania and formed the University of Pennsylvania.
- Benjamin Franklin also penned down the Law of Conservation of Electric charge, that demonstrates that charge can neither be created nor destroyed.
- He was the inventor of cutting edge Franklin stove, urinary catheter, bifocal glasses, Glass Harmonica.
The post is a part of a B’day Series where we celebrate the birthday of renowned personalities from Tech Industry, very frequently. The series includes Entrepreneurs, C-level Executives, innovators or renewed leaders who moved the industry with his exponential skill set and vision. The intent is to highlight the person’s achievements and touch base the little known, but interesting, part of his life. You can see the list of all earlier celebrated tech personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayor, Sean Parker, Andy Rubin, Julian Assange, Sir Richard Branson, Sergey Brin by following this link or subscribe to your daily newsletter.