About Ben Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and much more besides. A writer, publisher, scientist, politician, philosopher, diplomat and educationalist, he was a true Renaissance Man, in an era when such a wide range of talents and interests could all be put to practical use.
Ben was born in Boston, but made his home in Philadelphia, as well as spending periods in London and Paris. In his long career he ran a printing works and newspaper, founded what later became the University of Pennsylvania, reformed the colonial postal service and opened America's first public library.
He conducted extensive research into electricity, including the famous 1752 experiment in which he attached a metal key to a child's kite, then flew it into a thunderstorm to prove that lightning was an electrical discharge. He invented the lightning rod, as well as, among other things, the bifocal spectacle lens and the high-efficiency Franklin stove.
As a politician and diplomat Ben represented the American colonies in France and Britain, negotiating treaties of alliance with the former, and peace with the latter. At home, he helped to draft the Declaration of Independence (which he signed) and was later involved in the drafting of the American Constitution. His last public office, at the age of 81, was that of President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
Throughout his life, Ben Franklin remained a prolific moral philosopher, and today is still often referred to as our "wisest American". Between 1732 and 1758 he published Poor Richard: An Almanac, an annual collection of wit, wisdom and information from which many of the quotations on this website are taken.
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