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Benjamin Franklin, American Polymath
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Benjamin Franklin etching by H. B. Hall, 1879. Benjamin Franklin. Etching by H. B. Hall, 1879. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for unfaltering campaign for colonial unity; spokesman in London for several colonies and as the first United States Ambassador to France. Franklin personified the American ethos; practical, democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility. In 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General. In 1776, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Franklin died on April 17, 1790, at age 84. Approximately 20,000 people attended his funeral.
June 1st, 2013
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