Free research paper example on Benjamin Franklin:
When most people hear the name Benjamin Franklin they think of a kite getting struck by lightning. What they do not know is that Benjamin Franklin did a whole lot more in life other then experiment with electricity. Benjamin Franklin is historically significant because of his work as a publisher, his inventions and experiments, and his contributions to society.
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 to Josiah Franklin and his second wife Abiah (Lemay). Being one of seventeen children, Ben only attended elementary school for two years before he was taken out due to financial difficulties. After he was taken from school, Ben worked with his father making soap and candles.
At the young age of twelve, Ben went to work for his brother, James, a publisher, as an apprentice at the print shop where James worked. In the few years that Ben attended school he learned how to read, and he absolutely loved it. Working with his brother at the newspaper only enhanced his love fore reading and he read every issue of the paper along with any other book he could get his hands on (Jennings).
Reading so many books help Ben become a wonderful writer. He wanted nothing more than to write for his brother’s paper, but he knew no one would allow him to because he was such a young man. At around sixteen years of age he started writing under a fake name of Silence Dogood. He would take the stories he wrote and slide them under his brother’s door. The articles were printed in the paper and became quite popular (Bowen). Eventually his brother found out that it was Ben doing the writing and became very angry. Their relationship was never the same after that.
After the incident with his brother, Ben traveled some to get away from his brother and the rest of the society. He visited New York for a while then made his way to Philadelphia. He worked as a journeyman for one of Philadelphia’s two print shops. He found a place to live at a boarding house next door to the print shop. He met the owner of the boarding house’s daughter, Deborah, and got to know her. This was the woman whom Ben would later marry. She also helped Ben get acquainted with the upper class of Pennsylvania.
A few years later, after a trip to England and various other jobs, Ben began working for one of his old bosses training new employees (Bowen). Because of Ben this print shop became very popular and was given the contract to print the first paper currency in the United States.
After leaving that print shop Ben decided, with a little help from a friend, to open his own print shop. Ben worked hard and the shop was a success. One man said, “For the industry of that Franklin is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from the club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed” (Mittendorf). He eventually got the printing rights for a newspaper and titles it the “Pennsylvania Gazette”. He made a lot of money and bought out his partner making him the sole owner of the shop. Ben was eventually elected clerk of the Pennsylvania assemble. He printed the laws of the Pennsylvania assembly, as well as the laws of other businesses using his printing company.
He was also the postmaster of Pennsylvania “which helped him circulate his newspaper” (“Ben Franklin Facts”)
Because he loved books and thought they were very important, Ben established the first circulation library for all of the citizens. It was called the “Library company of Philadelphia” (“Ben Franklin Facts”). This library also served as somewhat scientific museum, housing stuffed (previously alive) animals and fossils.
Ben also wrote and published Poor Richards Almanac. This was basically a normal almanac of the time predicting weather forecasts, recipes and other things, but it was published under the name Richard Saunders, who was a poor man trying to raise money for his sick wife (“A Quick Biography”).
Even though Ben was very successful at printing and publishing, he did go on to do other things with his life. He started inventing and doing experiments. Benjamin Franklin is greatly known for his inventions and experiments that are still used in present day America. He invented the bifocal lens, the catheter, the glass armonica, the Franklin stove, the odometer, the lightning rod, and many other things. He also did many experiments with electricity, even though, contrary to popular belief, he did not invent it.
Ben had very poor vision. He has a separate pair of glasses for nearsightedness and farsightedness. One day he got tired of switching back and forth between the two so he cut the lenses in half and fitted them into the frame of his glasses and then bifocals were invented ( “The World”). His idea has been perfected throughout the years now many people wear bifocal lenses and some even wear what is called trifocal lenses, which are based off the same idea.
Ben was also interested in human anatomy. He had an older brother named John who regularly suffered from kidney stones. Sometimes when people have kidney stones they can not urinate regularly. This was the case for Ben’s brother John so Ben created a “flexible urinary catheter” to help make his brother feel better. This was the first catheter ever to have been made in the United States (“The World”).
Ben loved music. He learned to play the violin, the harp and the guitar. His love for music inspired him to create his own glass armonica. This instrument was played by “touching the edge of the spinning glass with dampened fingers”. Mozart and Beethoven were inspired by this new instrument (“The World”).
In Ben’s day, people would warm their houses by building a fire in their fireplaces even though it was not safe because their houses were made of wood and could burn down very easily. The warmth from the fire would also most of the time go straight up the chimney therefore not heating the house efficiently. Ben remedied this by creating the Franklin stove. This stove was made out of iron which allowed people to warm their houses more efficiently with less wood and less danger of their house catching on fire. Ben had also “Established the first Fire Company and fire insurance company” (“The World”). This made people feel safer.
When Ben was the postmaster he needed to find a way to keep track of the routes that were used to deliver mail because a stamp was only good for certain number of miles. Ben found a way to measure the distance by creating an odometer and connecting it to the wheel of his carriage. Odometers are still used today in all means of transportation. ( The World) Ben Franklin is most known in history because of his work with electricity. Ben had a theory that lightning was “an electrical current in nature” (“The World”) He tested this theory by using a kite and a key. Everyone pretty much knows what happened with this experiment. This experiment helped Ben develop some of the vocabulary that is used today when electricity is being referred to such as: “battery, conductor, condenser, charge, discharge, uncharged, negative, minus, plus, electric shock, and electrician” (“The World”).
Because he was still worried about homes catching on fire, Ben developed the Lightning rod. This was invented to divert lightning away from houses to avoid fires. The lightning rod was a metal rod with metal wire attached to it that went from the rod and buried into the ground. When the lightning struck the rod it sent the electricity down the wire and into the ground. That is where the term “grounding” came from.
Weather was another thing Ben was interested in. He studied storms and found out that “northeast storms begin in the southwest” (“The World”) and he had a theory that storm paths could be predicted so he once chased a tornado on horseback. He was right, storm courses could be plotted. Weathermen still do that today, although not on horseback.
Finally, Ben is also known throughout history because of the contributions he made to his society. Ben helped during the French and Indian war, helped write and also signed the Declaration of Independence, helped to ratify the constitution, and was against slavery.
During the French and Indian war England was afraid for its colonies so England called for all colonies north of Virginia to send a representative for a meeting in New York. Ben went to this meeting and had many plans, but everyone else thought that were too “visionary”. Ben ended up helping General Braddock of the British military by giving him advice and getting him supplies. After his time with the General was over, Ben was put in charge of defending the northwestern frontier. His son William helped him as an officer in the military. They made a fort out of wood and Ben commanded one of the volunteer militias. Before he was able to finish his term as commander, Ben was sent away to London to do some negotiating. (Mittendorf)
Ben was a member of the Second Continental Congress. He was appointed to Postmaster General, the first one in the colonies. He was also the chairman of the Committee of Safety. The purpose of the Committee of Safety was to protect all of the colonists. He trained a militia to defend the colonies against the British. Ben also tried to bring all of the colonist together under a union, but they weren’t ready for his type of government. (Mittendorf)
As a member of the Second Continental congress, Ben, along with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, began drafting the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence then Franklin and Adams proofread and changed a few things. The Declaration was adopted on July fourth 1776 by the continental congress. Ben signed it along with the others.(Mittendorf)
In 1787, although he did not agree with all of it, Ben was a supporter for the ratification of the Constitution. He was part of the Constitutional Convention whose hope was to design a better, more balanced government. One of the reasons that the Constitution was ratified was because Ben supported it. The people trusted him completely. As he was leaving Independence hall a lady asked him, “”Dr. Franklin, what kind of government did you give us?” she asked. “A monarchy or a republic?” Franklin’s witty reply: “A republic, if you can keep it!” ” (Mittendorf)
When Ben was an old man, a month before he dies actually, he decided to take a stand against slavery. Even though he had bought and sold slaves, he realized it was wrong. He then wrote an article about how American slavery was as cruel as slavery thousands of years ago. Ben was an abolitionist. (Mittendorf)
Ben died on April 17, 1790. He passes quietly with only his family with him. Twenty thousand people gathered for his funeral on April 21. He was buried next to his wife Deborah. By order of his will the tombstone only said, “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin 1790”. ( Mittendorf) He wanted a simple tombstone because he thought of himself as just a regular guy.
Benjamin Franklin was very significant to our history today. He wrote books and invented things that people still use today, and will keep on using probably forever. He was also one of our founding fathers. Ben contributed a lot to our society.
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