Who invented the Lightning Rod

 Lightning Rod

Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents and one of the hardest-working men in history. His diligence and love of his country are legendary in the nation he founded. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was an American writer, diplomat, printer, politician and scientist. He supported the rebel cause in the American War of Independence and is considered one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. In addition, his contributions to science, philosophy and literature are considered very important.

Early Years

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the fifteenth of his father’s seventeen children with two wives. His father Josiah was a Puritan who taught young Ben the value of hard work and diligence. Although Ben was a good student, his family could only afford to send him to school for two years, after which he was apprenticed to his brother, a printer. Ben ran away at the age of seventeen and went to Philadelphia, where he found work in various print shops. He also went to London for a time. As a young man, Ben was a tireless reader and continued his education on his own, lost in the world of books.

Franklin as a Young Man

Upon his return from London, Franklin found that his childhood love, Deborah Read, had married a man who had subsequently fled the country in order to escape his debts. She could not legally remarry, but she and Ben moved in together, and she eventually became his common-law wife. Ben eventually had four children, including two with Deborah. Ben became involved in the printing trade in Philadelphia, and prospered as a printer and as the writer of the immensely popular Poor Richard’s Almanack, which featured bits of wisdom such as “fish and visitors stink in three days.” Although he used the pseudonym Richard Saunders, it was common knowledge that Franklin was the author. Ben also joined the Freemasons at that time and quickly rose to a position of influence in this secretive society.

Franklin the Scientist

Benjamin Franklin was an accomplished scientist and inventor. He did extensive work with electricity, which gained him great fame in European scientific circles and won him many awards. His many inventions include the lightning rod, bifocal glasses, an improved glass harmonica and a new type of stove appropriately named the “Franklin stove.” He was also involved in the civic life of Philadelphia, establishing a volunteer firefighter regiment and founding what would become the University of Pennsylvania.

Involvement in Politics

Ben became more involved in politics as he aged. In the 1760’s, he became involved in fighting the heirs of William Penn on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania: the Penn family believed more or less that the state belonged to them. In 1765, while in London, he lobbied on behalf of the colonies for the repeal of the hated Stamp Act, which legislated that all legal papers in the colonies had to have a special stamp which raised revenue for England. When the tax was repealed, Franklin was considered a hero in the colonies and was made official representative to England.

Franklin and the Revolution

Franklin wrote in favor of the colonies while in Europe. He returned to America in 1775 and fighting had already broken out. In June of 1776, he served on the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence, and naturally he is one of those who signed it. Later in 1776 he was dispatched by colonial officials to France, where he served as ambassador. His work in France was crucial to the Revolution: he secured French military and economic support, without which the American Revolution almost certainly would have failed. Franklin was extremely popular and well-known in Parisian social circles.

Return to America and Later Life

Franklin returned to the United States to a well-deserved hero’s welcome. He continued to write and serve his country in his old age. He spent the years from 1785-1788 as President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, a position similar to that of State Governor. He became a dedicated abolitionist, freeing his own slaves and organizing protests and supporting movements to free the remaining slaves in the country. He died in April, 1790, at the age of 84. The people of Pennsylvania were greatly saddened by his loss, and his funeral was attended by some 20,000 mourners.

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