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Benjamin Franklin

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Benjamin Franklin is considered to be one of the greatest American minds and a proud pillar of Americans national inheritance. He seems to embody and personify the so called American Dream. His father was a candlemaker and many people doubted of his capacity of mastering so many disciplines. His story proves that with determination and dedication, success is within anyones grasp. He was a leading American statesman, inventor, philanthropist, publisher, revolutionary and thinker, he was an Enlightened American1. Benjamin Franklin is considered the father of electricity. Through his inventions, writings, and extensive activities as a printer and philosopher, Franklin helped advance the Age of Enlightenment. As a key founder of the United States, he is the only statesman to have signed all four documents that created a new nation: The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris establishing peace with Britain (1783) and The Constitution (1787). Franklins influence and innovation still impact our lives today. Biography Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston,Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, in a poor family: Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share of felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the blessing of God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be imitated.(Benjamin Franklin-Autobiography)

Birthplace of Benjamin Franklin: The House on Milk Street

He attended Boston Latin School but did not graduate, and continued his education through reading. Although "his parents talked of the church as a career" for Franklin, his schooling ended when he was ten. He then worked for his father for a time and at 12 he became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade. When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies.

Apprentice Franklin laboring at the presses

At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city. After a few months, while working in a printing house, Franklin was convinced by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London in order to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith's promises of backing a newspaper to be empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer's shop and then he returned to Philadelphia in 1726 with the help of Thomas Denham, a merchant who employed Franklin as clerk, shopkeeper, and bookkeeper in his business. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community." The Junto was a discussion group for issues of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia. Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library, initially assembled from their own books. This did not suffice, however. Franklin then conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership and the following year 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 adroit cultivation of a 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 habitually signed his letters with the unpretentious 'B. Franklin, Printer. In 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic Lodge. He became Grand Master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania. That same year, he edited and published the first Masonic book in the Americas, a reprint of James Anderson's Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 17 April 1790 as one of historys great figures. Citizen Benjamin Franklin Ben Franklin believed that people volunteering together in a spirit of cooperation could accomplish great things. Driven by a strong sense of civic duty, he involved himself in his community and his nation. Always mindful of the greater good, Franklin helped establish or improve institutions such as circulating libraries, public hospitals, mutual insurance companies, volunteer fire departments, agricultural colleges, and intellectual societies. Franklin built a reputation as a civic leader, establishing the colonies first postal service, volunteer fire service, public library and one of the earliest medical facilities, the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He founded Philadelphias American Philosophical Society in 1743, still a vibrant centre for research today, and in 1749 he set up an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania.

An American citizen In England Franklins first visit to England was in 1725 where he expanded his knowledge of the printing trade. The area where he took up residence, Little Britain, was a great centre for printers and booksellers, and a lively hub of political and religious debate. "No Taxation Without Representation" was the rallying cry for the colonial opponents of the Stamp Act.2 Groups such as the Sons of Liberty were established to flout England's tyrannical legislation, and boycotts of British goods were organized in order to make the Stamp Act unprofitable and unpalatable to the English nation. Although his original mission dealt with royal authority over the Pennsylvania colony, Franklin adopted the role of representative of colonial America. In fact, Benjamin labored to overturn the Stamp Act. In order to accomplish this, he enlisted the support of British merchants who were suffering from the colonial boycott, wrote eloquent articles for English newspapers, and presented colonial arguments before English Parliament. The British justified the Stamp Act as a means of raising revenue to pay for the expensive French and Indian War. However, Benjamin Franklin turned the tables. During a full session of Parliament, he argued that it was the colonists who had in fact aided the British throughout the war effort. In March of 1766, the Stamp Act was revoked, partly due to the boisterous colonists and partly due to Franklin's well-organized opposition. In Philadelphia, Franklin was hailed as a hero. Serving his country Setting foot on Pennsylvania soil on May 5, 1775, Benjamin Franklin was nearly seventy years old. The Revolutionary War had begun less than a month before with the "shot heard around the world" at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. At the battlesites, American farmers had fired on British troops who were ordered to confiscate ammunition and supplies from American patriot leaders. The morning after his arrival, Franklin was chosen as a delegate to represent Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress. The Congress assembled influential political leaders from all thirteen colonies and discussed their future relationship to Great Britain. Under the direction of the Second Continental Congress, Franklin assumed the role of postmaster of the colonies. At the same time, he was designated chair of the Committee of Safety, whose function was to defend the colonies. In this capacity, Benjamin organized, armed, and trained a militia designed to provide resistance to the British "lobsterbacks." Before the Second Continental Congress, he presented hisArticles of Condederation and Perpetual Union, a proposal to unify the thirteen colonies under a single national confederation. Although the colonial representatives were not yet willing to adopt this form of government, the statesman's document would later serve as a model when the United States drafted its first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. Nevertheless, Franklin's most important task during revolutionary times was the secret committee he established at the bequest of the Second Congress. The committee's function was to generate support and gain allies for the patriot cause among European nations. Benjamin Franklin, possessing many close contacts overseas, was ideal in this role. From this initial committee in charge of foreign relations, the present-day State Department eventually evolved. In 1776, Congress sent Franklin north to recruit another potential ally: French Canada. A seventy year old man, Benjamin lived under actual frontier conditions during the voyage up the Hudson River and into Canada. The settlers, however, were apathetic regarding the War of Independence. As a result, Franklin returned to Philadelphia empty-handed. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formed a committee, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, to begin formulating the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, a skilled writer and a member of the influential colony of Virginia, was chosen to draft the document. For their part, Franklin and Adams suggested only minor alterations in the wording of Jefferson's final copy. Adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence indicated that war with England could not be averted.

Presenting the Declaration of Independence to Congress As the British dispatched more and more regiments to the colonies, the conflict intensified. General Howe, the British commanding officer, attacked General George Washington on Long Island, NY and New York City. The colonies were in desperate need of an economic and political ally. As a result, Congress selected Benjamin to head a clandestine diplomatic mission. Along with Silas Deane and Richard Henry Lee, he was to voyage across the Atlantic to France and garner support for the American cause. Wisdom and Talent Benjamin Franklin was fascinated with everything, and he was driven to share that fascination with others. One of the reasons we know so much about Franklin today is because he wrote about what he thought and how he lived. Benjamin Franklins writings cover many genres, from his unique take on ethical philosophy presented in Poor Richards Almanack to journalism, scientific reports, satire and autobiography. His skilled writing spare, and at turns humorous and emotive - conveys his character and an understanding of the man; his writings are considered great works of literature. Franklin returned to America from England to set up as a printer in 1726. He published and wrote most of the newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, which speedily became a success. Further triumph and came in 1732 with the appearance of the first of 24 annual editions of Poor Richard's Alamanack. The Alamanack brought Franklin fame as the first American writer to achieve nation-wide readership. It was the vehicle for many of his aphorisms, which rephrased are a part of the English everyday lexicon like: He that lieth down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas. Among his early publishing ventures was the Philadelphische Zeitung, Americas first German-language newspaper (1732). In 1771 Franklin published his autobiography, still hailed as a classic. Two years later, he produced his Rules by which a Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One, one of a series of satirical pieces intended to calm tensions yet warn the British of the likely outcome of a hard line course against the colonies. Inquiring and Inventive Mind As a "man of science," Franklin is best known for his experiments with electricity, but his lifelong curiosity also led him to explore an amazing range of scientific topics. From the common cold to ocean currents, from medicine to music, and from agriculture to the aurora borealis, he believed that human logic could unlock the mysteries of the natural world. More interested in practical applications than in theory, Franklin put his ideas to work through such useful inventions as a smokeless fireplace, bifocal glasses, and the lightning rod. Franklin never patented his inventions:"... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

Atlantic Ocean currents

As deputy postmaster, Franklin became interested in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns. Franklin put a related question regarding a complaint heard within the Colonial Board of Customs(Why did it take British packet ships carrying mail several weeks longer to reach New York than it took an average merchant ship to reach) to his cousin,Timothy Folger, a Nantucket whaler captain, who told him that merchant ships routinely avoided a strong east bound mid-ocean current while the mail packet captains sailed dead into it, thus fighting an adverse current of 3 miles per hour (5 km/h). Franklin worked with Folger and other experienced ship captains, learning enough to chart the current and name it the Gulf Stream, by which it is still known today. Franklin published his Gulf Stream chart in 1770 in England, where it was completely ignored, until Phil Richardson, a Gulf Stream expert, discovered it and published on front page coverage in the New York Times. It took many years for British sea captains finally to adopt Franklin's advice on navigating the current; once they did, they were able to trim two weeks from their sailing time. Electricity Benjamin Franklins discoveries resulted from his investigations of electricity. Franklin proposed that "vitreous" and "resinous" electricity were not different types of "electrical fluid" (as electricity was called then), but the same electrical fluid under different pressures. He was the first to label them as positive and negative respectively, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge. In 1750 he published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm that appeared capable of becoming a lightning storm. On May 10, 1752 Thomas-Franois Dalibard of France conducted Franklin's experiment using a 12 m-tall iron rod instead of a kite, and he extracted electrical sparks from a cloud. On June 15 Franklin may possibly have conducted his famous kite experiment in Philadelphia, successfully extracting sparks from a cloud. Franklin's electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod. He noted that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point were capable of discharging silently, and at a far greater distance. He surmised that this knowledge could be of use in protecting buildings from lightning by attaching "upright Rods of Iron, made sharp as a Needle and gilt to prevent Rusting, and from the Foot of those Rods a Wire down the outside of the Building into the Ground;...Would not these pointed Rods probably draw the Electrical Fire silently out of a Cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible Mischief!" Following a series of experiments on Franklin's own house, lightning rods were installed on the Academy of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in 1752. In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1753 and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th century Americans to be elected as a Fellow of the Society. The cgs unit of electric charge has been named after him: one franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb. Meteorology On October 21, 1743, according to popular myth, a storm moving from the southwest denied Franklin the opportunity of witnessing a lunar eclipse. Franklin was said to have noted that the prevailing winds were actually from the northeast, contrary to what he had expected. In correspondence with his brother, Franklin learned that the same storm had not reached Boston until after the eclipse, despite the fact that Boston is to the northeast of Philadelphia. He deduced that storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, a concept that greatly influenced meteorology. Concept of cooling Franklin noted a principle of refrigeration by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one. To understand this phenomenon more clearly Franklin conducted experiments. In 1758 on a warm day in Cambridge, England, Franklin and fellow scientist John Hadley experimented by continually wetting the ball of a mercury thermometer with ether and using bellows to

evaporate the ether. With each subsequent evaporation, the thermometer read a lower temperature, eventually reaching -14 C. Another thermometer showed the room temperature to be constant at 18 C. In his letter Cooling by Evaporation, Franklin noted that "one may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on a warm summers day." Temperature's effect on electrical conductivity According to Michael Faraday, Franklin's experiments on the non-conduction of ice are worth mentioning although the law of the general effect of liquefaction on electrolytes is not attributed to Franklin. However, the law of the effect of heat on the conduction of bodies otherwise non-conductors, for example, glass, could be attributed to Franklin. Franklin writes, "...A certain quantity of heat will make some bodies good conductors, that will not otherwise conduct..." and again, "...And water, though naturally a good conductor, will not conduct well when frozen into ice."

America has never forgotten Benjamin Franklin because he did both. He lived these words of wisdom by writing as much as he possibly could and by doing even more. "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." ~ B. Franklin

Sitography http://library.thinkquest.org http://www.brainyquote.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Enlightenment http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin Websites visited on the 1st of December,2011 Bibliography Benjamin Franklin Autobiography 1706-1757 Edited by Charles W Eliot Lld P. F. Collier & Son Company, New York (1909) TWYFORD

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1)The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century, especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other. Influenced by the scientific revolution of the 17th century and the humanist period during the Renaissance, the Enlightenment took scientific reasoning and applied it to human nature, society and religion. 2)The Stamp Act 1765 was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp.These printed materials were legal documents, magazines, newspapers and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years' War. The British government felt that the colonies were the primary beneficiaries of this military presence, and should pay at least a portion of the expense.

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