One of the most legendary figures in American history, Benjamin Franklin is known for being a genius, inventor, statesman, transatlantic celebrity, Minister to France, and ladies' man, to name but a few. Although he was never President of the United States, it's safe to say he influenced all of them at some point. There are few other Founding Fathers that played such a large part in the establishment and ideals of our great nation. Below are a few interesting Franklin factoids.
- Franklin is the only Founding Father to have signed all four of the documents that confirmed the sovereignty of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris, and the United States Constitution.
- He invented bifocals, a precursor to today's eyeglasses, mainly out of his own necessity. Franklin said that he couldn't "distinguish a letter or even of large print without them."
- As a boy, Franklin would read essays and newspaper articles and rewrite them entirely from memory. It was this practice that polished his writing skill.
- By age 12 he was an indentured servant to his older brother, James Franklin, who printed the New England Courant out of his shop. James often beat Benjamin and treated him poorly out of jealousy for his brother's intellect and writing. James especially couldn't stand it when Ben revealed that he was behind the Silence Dogood letters that had become so popular in Boston, and his anger led to Ben leaving the city for Philadelphia.
- It was Franklin's time spent in Ireland that confirmed his opinion of British affairs in the American colonies. He had seen the way the Irish people had been brutally treated by their British rulers and was determined not to let the same thing happen at home.
- Franklin, the genius, spent only two years in formal education. He attended the Boston Latin School, which was also the school of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Hooper, Henry Ward Beecher, and scores of other American icons.
- While experimenting with electricity, Franklin introduced the words battery, electrician, and conductor. You can also thank him for inventing the lightning rod, which probably kept your grandparents' house safe in storms.
- Franklin signed the United States Constitution at the ripe old age of 81. He died only a few years later at 84 and nearly 20,000 people are said to have attended his funeral.
- Are you sitting in a rocking chair right now? If so, you can thank ole' Ben for that one, too. He fitted curved pieces of wood to the legs of his chair, subsequently creating the best companion for iced tea that we know of.
- Ben met with drinking buddies in a group he nicknamed his Junto, in which the crew would discuss politics, ethics, and business. These little drinking sessions turned into some very big ideas, which became the first volunteer fire department, public hospital, public library, and more. Makes you want to crack one open in Franklin's honor right now, doesn't it?
Did we leave one of your favorite facts out? Have a good one to share? Let us hear it in the comments below!