During the period after America’s “birth” there were many incredible people but none more so than Benjamin Franklin. Ben is considered one of America’s greatest citizens. He accomplished many things in his lifetime; he was a scientist, an inventor, a politician, a printer, a philosopher, a musician, and an economist. In the 1700s, a scientist was someone who thought about the way things work and tried to figure out ways to make things work better. Every time Ben Franklin saw a question and tried to answer it, he was a scientist.
Ben is most famous for his questions about electricity, but he also experimented with many other ideas in nature. Ben did many studies on electricity, not just lightning. Franklin received an electricity tube from his friend Peter Collinson and began to play around with it, performing a vast amount of experiments (FISM). However, it is Ben’s interest in lightning that is best remembered. Ben hypothesized that lightning was an electrical current. To test his theory he needed to see whether or not lightning would pass through metal. So he attached a metal key to a kite and flew it in a storm.
His experiment proved that lightning was a stream of electrified air, known as plasma (Lemay) Ben realized that lightning was immensely powerful, so he invented the lightning rod. After Franklin did many studies with lightning and electricity, he realized it was a very powerful force. It was this that motivated him to invent the lightning rod. The lightning rod is a piece of metal attached to a building, house, boat, etc. When lightning strikes the building the rod will attract it and channel the electricity down to the ground where it will do much less damage.
This invention has help protect buildings of today greatly. In 1743, Ben Franklin was watching a storm move in. He wondered why the storms were moving the opposite direction from where the wind was blowing. Franklin believed that a storm course could be plotted. Ben chased the storm on horseback ? of a mile to see how it worked. He later printed weather forecasts in his almanac (FISM). In his travels across the Atlantic Ocean he became interested in ocean currents and shipbuilding. He measured temperatures on each of his eight trips to Europe and eventually plotted a Gulf Stream.
Ben was one of the first people to work on gulf streams (FISM). In November of 1783, Ben was in Paris, France working on a Peace Treaty to end the American war against England. From his window, he saw the worlds first known hot air balloon flight. The balloon lifted the Montgolfier brothers off of the ground as the first human beings ever known to fly (Lemay). Ben was very interested in the idea of flight. He predicted that balloons would eventually be used for military spy flights and dropping bombs during battle (FISM).
Ben’s natural curiosity about things and the way they work made him try to find ways to make things work better. A list of Benjamin Franklin’s inventions reveals a brilliant man. Ben was cursed with poor vision, both farsighted and nearsighted. Franklin got frustrated with having to take off his glasses every time he needed to read something. He wished his glasses could make him see far and near. In order to accomplish this, Franklin cut two pairs of lenses in half and put half of each lens in one frame, inventing what we call today, bifocals.
Though Ben is not known for studding bioscience, he was interested in how the human body works. His contribution to the study of the body was his invention of the flexible catheter, an instrument for showing the blood’s circulation (FISM). During his long trips across the ocean he had time to study ships and how they worked. He derived a way to make ships more sturdy and safe by inventing “watertight bulkheads”. This greatly improved the safety of sea travel (FISM). At the time people were using their fireplaces to heat there house.
All that wood in an unprotected area cause many fires. Ben decided there was a better and safer answer, so he invented the “Franklin stove”. As the head postmaster of Philadelphia, Ben had to figure out routes for delivering the mail. He went out riding in his carriage to measure the routes and needed a way to keep track of the distance. He invented a simple odometer. When Ben had retired from politics and other activities he was very old and loved to read. But he couldn’t reach most of the books because he was weaker and shorter, so he invented the long arm.
The long arm is a poll with a grasping claw at the end of it (FISM). Benjamin Franklin is one of our founding fathers. His skill in negotiating and writing helped us become a nation. Ben stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778), the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1782), and the Constitution (1787) (Esmond). No other person was so involved in the making of our nation.
He not only helped make America but he helped make life better here. Along with his many inventions he also helped set up a postal system and started the first fire insurance company. At the age of twelve, Ben Franklin first began to learn the business of printing. As an apprentice to his older brother James, who had set up a printing office in Boston, Ben learned quickly. By the time Ben was seventeen, he was a fully skilled printer able to work in any print shop. With this skill, Ben was able to leave Boston and find work in both Philadelphia and London.
In 1728, at the age of twenty-two, Franklin opened his own printing office in Philadelphia. He published a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette and his annual Poor Richard’s Almanac (Esmond). He published cartoons and illustrated news stories, and letters to the editor. He believed in the power of the press, using his printing press as a way to bring the news to all people. He used cartoons and pictures so that everyone could understand the news, especially to people who had not learned to read.
In 1731, Franklin set up the first ever circulating library where people could checkout books so they could read even if they couldn’t afford to buy books (FISM). Ben Franklin had many other ideas about our nation. His essays and books about the economy help shape it to what it is today, he strictly believed in hard work. There was no shortage of that in his life; Benjamin Franklin is clearly one of America’s greatest citizens. We honor him as one of our founding fathers and his face is on the one hundred-dollar bill.