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Biography of Benjamin Franklin

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Biography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a modest man who had many jobs in his lifetime. This may help explain his large array of inventions and new methods of working various jobs. He did everything from making cabbage-growing more efficient to making political decisions, to being the first person to study and chart the Gulf Stream movement in the Atlantic Ocean.

Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He was the fifteenth child in a family of seventeen kids. His parents, Josiah and Abiah Franklin, were hard working people. Josiah Franklin made candles for a living. Since the Franklins were so poor, Benjamin couldn't afford to go to school for longer than two years. In those two years, however, Franklin learned to read which opened the door to further education for him. Since he was only a fair writer and had very poor mathematical skills, he worked to tutor himself at home.

Benjamin Franklin was a determined young man. As a boy, he taught himself to be a very good writer. He also learned basic algebra and geometry, navigation, grammar, logic, and natural and physical science. He partially mastered French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Latin. When he was 12-years-old, he was apprentice to his brother in printing. Benjamin's brother founded the second newspaper in America. Many people told him that one newspaper was enough for America and that the paper would soon collapse.

Proving them wrong his paper became very popular. Occasionally, young Benjamin would write an article to be printed and slip it under the printing room's door signed as "Anonymous". Benjamin liked the printer's job but couldn't stand being told what to do all of the time. Benjamin needed to be his own boss.

In 1730, Franklin married Deborah Read. Read was not nearly so well educated as her husband. In old letters that she had written to him, there are many misspellings and improper punctuation marks. They were a very happy couple despite their differences. They eventually had two boys and one girl. One of the boys, William, became governor of New Jersey.

When Franklin was 21-years-old, he began his career as a civic leader by organizing a club of aspiring tradesmen called the Junto, which met each week for discussion and planning. They hoped to build their own businesses, to insure the growth of Philadelphia, and improve the quality of its life. Franklin led the University of Junto in founding a library in 1731, the first ever American fire company in 1736, a learned society in 1743, a college (the University of Pennsylvania) in 1749, and an insurance company and a hospital in 1751. The group also worked to pave, clean, and light the streets and to make them safe by organizing an effective night watch. They even formed a voluntary militia. Franklin's leadership skills helped himself and others throughout much of his life.

In 1740, Franklin stumbled onto a new career: inventing. Around the time Franklin invented his stove, he began to read about new discoveries involving electricity. He started to experiment with it with help from his friends in Philadelphia. He claimed that experiments carried out in France in 1752 showed that lightning was actually a form of electricity. Determined to further establish his belief that lightning was electricity, he performed his famous kite experiment. He flew a kite with a metal needle attached to the tip on a very fine metal wire. He had a key attached to the wire and hypothesized that the key would spark while absorbing the electricity. The experiment was a success.

A direct effect of Franklin's work with lightning as electricity was his invention of the lightning rod. The first lightning rod he made he attached to the top of his own house. Soon after, it was hit by lightning, saving his house from damage. News spread about



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