Benjamin Franklin

Inventor, Founding Father


January 17, 1706 — April 17, 1790

Birth Place:
Boston, Massachusetts


Chief Accomplishment:
Aided the American Revolution and the founding of the United States as a Constitutional Republic.

Other Notable Accomplishments:

Franklin created the Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper for the colonies. It was in this paper that he printed the very first American political cartoon.

Franklin conducted many experiments throughout his life. He was especially interested in electricity and invented the lightning rod as a way to keep people safe.

Fires used to be much more common before certain precautions were put into place. Franklin helped to found the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance Against Loss by Fire, a sort of homeowners insurance.

Franklin also invented bifocal glasses. Bifocals are one pair of glasses with two different lenses: one for normal viewing and one for reading.

He wrote many publications, including Poor Richard's Almanac (a yearly book for farmers that included witty quips of advice), The Way to Wealth (about finances), and the Silence Dogood Letters, in which he pretended to be an older widow.


Acceptance Ahead of His Time. Benjamin Franklin once helped a man named Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who was being prosecuted for homosexuality in France, come to America with his partner to escape.

Are You There, God? It's Me, Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin believed that if someone did have an encounter with God, he was not required to believe their second-hand account of the situation, and asserted that if God was real and wanted him to know, God would show up in person.

Peace Before Profit. While Franklin believed that the Christian message of peace was a good one, he also believed that the Church had become corrupted and no longer existed for the sake of charity, which disappointed him.

New Nation. Franklin was one of the people to sign the Declaration of Independence, which announced to the King of England that the American colonies declared their independence from British rule.

Interesting Facts:

Franklin was one of ten children. He was the father of three, including an illegitimate son who was a British loyalist.

Franklin loved to play chess and would have contests of skill with his friend. The game's loser had to memorize something in Italian, a language which both men were trying to learn.

Franklin played violin, guitar, and the harp. He also developed a new instrument called the Armonica, a mechanized instrument that made music with 37 glass bowls.

A common misconception is that Benjamin Franklin was a President of the United States. He was not, but he did preside over Pennsylvania. He is also one of three non-U.S. presidents pictured on current currency.

Franklin was a huge advocate for the creation of paper money, writing a pamphlet called "The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency." He also owned a printing company and printed the currency for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.