Pin Me

Getting to Know Ben Franklin

written by: Lynne Ringle • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 2/8/2012

Ben Franklin's life and his inventions and ideas helped form the country into what we know today.

  • slide 1 of 7

    Benjamin Franklin contributed much to the growth of the United States. He was very bright and had a very curious mind. Franklin's ideas and inventions typically came about because he saw something that needed to be improved and he took the initiative to do it.

  • slide 2 of 7

    Basic Facts about Ben Franklin

    Ben Franklin portrait courtesy of Archives.gov 

    Born: January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts

    Died: April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Education: Honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, University of St. Andrews, University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh

    Founding Father: One of five men who helped draft the Declaration of Independence

    Author: Published "Poor Richard's Almanack" in 1732

  • slide 3 of 7

    Famous Firsts from Ben Franklin

    Ben Franklin created many systems that changed the lives of Americans not only in his lifetime, but for Americans for centuries to come. His innovations literally changed the way many Americans live and work.

    Public Hospitals: Franklin was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751, which was the first public hospital in the country. Before this, there was no help for public health system for the poor. The public hospital system that Americans know today is modeled after the Pennsylvania Hospital.

    Public Library: In the early 18th century, books were mainly available to wealthy people, whom had their own private libraries. In 1751, Franklin developed the concept of a subscription library, where members paid a fee and shared books amongst themselves. This system served as the model for the public library system.

    Post Office: Franklin was once the country's postmaster general. During that time, he instituted regular mail routes, a standard fee structure and an internal auditing system. Many of the systems are still in use by the postal service today.

    Volunteer Fire Department: In 1752, Franklin organized the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia. The success led to other volunteer fire departments in the city.

    Fire Insurance: Franklin also was responsible for creating the first fire insurance company in 1752. Subscribers paid a fee for the assurance of having their property repaired or replaced if it was damaged in a fire.

  • slide 4 of 7

    10 Jobs Held by Ben Franklin

    An interesting fact about Ben Franklin's life is that he had many different jobs. Here are ten jobs that he had in his career.

    1. Printer
    2. Writer
    3. Politician
    4. Inventor
    5. Scientist
    6. Volunteer firefighter
    7. Librarian
    8. Postmaster
    9. Bookstore owner
    10. Soldier in Philadelphia militia
  • slide 5 of 7

    Inventions

    Ben Franklin invented many things that are still used today. Here are just a few of Franklin's inventions:

    1. Bifocals
    2. Lightning rod
    3. Swimming fins
    4. The Franklin stove, an iron fireplace that produced less smoke and used less wood.
    5. Glass armonica, a musical instrument

  • slide 6 of 7

    More Fun Facts

    • He actually had two birthdays. Franklin's birth certificate says that he was born on January 6, 1706, but on September 2, 1752 the British colonies changed to a different calendar. Over time, calendars no longer line up with seasons and adjustments must be made to make sure that seasons happen in the right month. That is why we have leap year. Therefore, at midnight on September 2, 1752, it legally became September 14 and Franklin's new birthday became January 17.
    • His picture has been on every $100 bill minted since 1928.
    • Franklin thought the turkey should be the national bird, rather than the bald eagle. He wrote in a letter to his daughter, Sarah, in 1784 that the turkey is more respectable than eagles and a true native of the United States.
    • He taught himself five different languages: Latin, German, Spanish, Italian and French.
    • Franklin crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times and spent 27 years of his life living in other countries.
  • slide 7 of 7

    It is amazing to see how much Ben Franklin accomplished. It is hard to think of anyone who did more with his life than Franklin and his impact is still felt today, over 300 years after he was born. He is truly one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

References

  • Image: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/treasure/treasure_hunt_03.html
  • PBS: Benjamin Franklin. An Extraordinary Life. An Electric Mind. URL: http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/
  • The Ben Franklin Tercentenary URL: http://www.benfranklin300.org/