The Ideas of Benjamin Franklin

In the early years of the English colonies, most Europeans did not take Americans seriously. Most were thought to be bound for America because they could not make it in England. Many viewed Americans as irrational religious fanatics or crude pioneers. American art literature and science were snubbed by most cultured Europeans. Benjamin Franklin would help them take notice.

Born in 1706 in colonial Boston, Ben ran away to Philadelphia when he was seventeen. The next twenty-five years he made a fortune out of the three pennies he had carried with him.

He built a successful printing business, which Franklin gave up and devoted the rest of his life to philanthropic and intellectual pursuits. He founded the College of Philadelphia—now the University of Pennsylvania.

Franklin became an inventor, developing products as diverse as an efficient wood-burning stove and bifocal reading glasses.

His most famous work was with electricity. In his famed experiment with a kite and key, Franklin proved that lightning was a form of electrical energy.

Franklin continued his life as a public servant. Although he was seventy years old when the Revolutionary War began, he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and as a diplomat abroad.

Source: The Ideas of Benjamin Franklin
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