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Franklin (1706)

Benjamin Franklin (1706)

image of Benjamin Franklin portrait

Source: Greuze, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Benjamn Franklin was a diplomat, politician, printer, and scientist. He invented bifocals, the Franklin stove, and experimented with electricity. Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. He showed his intelligence and interest early on in reading and writing. At the age of ten though, he was taken out of school to learn his father's trade of candle making. Young Benjamin hated this work and two years later became an apprentice in his brother James' print shop.

After five years Franklin left his brother's shop and went to New York. There was no work in New York so he moved to Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a much bigger city at the time. Franklin became very successful as a printer. Wealth brought him time to work on his inventions and interests. Franklin recognized that common fireplaces were inefficient. He designed the Franklin stove to use heat better.

engraving of Benjamin Franklin pflying a kite

Source: Cooley, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

His stove drew in cool air, heated the air, and then circulated the heated air. These stoves became very popular in American and Europe. Electricity had recently been discovered in Europe. Franklin became extremely interested in it and spent six years trying to generate electricity. Franklin began to focus on lightning and the idea that it was caused by electric charges. Franklin suggested the use of lightning rods to redirect electricity away from buildings to keep them from burning down. By tying an iron key to a kite string during a storm, he was able to identify the electrical charge as being the same as in a Leyden Jar. This proved lightning was electricity. Benjamin Franklin spent the later part of his life pursuing his interests and working for the colonies and the creation for the United States. Franklin died in 1790 in the country he helped form and improve.