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Ben Franklin

July 25, 2017

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Ben Franklin started his life as an extremely successful printer. He learned the trade from his older brother and moved from Boston, where he was born, to Philadelphia, where he became the publisher of The Pennsylvania Gazette. He also distributed a wildly popular yearly almanac under the pseudonym, Richard Saunders. He called it Poor Richard’s Almanac.

As a scientist, Ben Franklin took the world by storm, conducting experiments in electricity, what they called at that time, electrical fluid. Some of his experiments became legendary. On a stormy June day in 1752, Ben Franklin, along with his son, William, flew a kite with a wire poking out of it. As the Philadelphia skies darkened, and the kite’s string bristled with electricity, Franklin brought his knuckles close to a brass key dangling from the end of the string. A spark leaped through the air, giving him a powerful jolt, thus proving that lightning, at the time a rather mysterious phenomenon, was simply electricity. This, along with other experiments, led to Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod, a device that has protected untold numbers of buildings and lives to this day.

Ben Franklin was an impressive inventor, creating the Franklin stove, a urinary catheter, a glass harmonica, swim fins, and those famous bifocals. However, the most amazing thing about Franklin is that for all his inventions, he never sought a patent. He gave his inventions to the world, freely. In his autobiography, Ben Franklin wrote, “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.” Franklin, like so many of our nation’s greatest leaders, was motivated not out of fame or monetary gain, but service to others and the greater good.

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