250th Anniversary of Benjamin Franklin
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Biographical / Historical
As a boy he worked as a printer for his father then brother, but went to Philadelphia to work in 1723. He visited London between 1724 and 1726 and then returned to Philadelphia in 1729. He became the owner and editor of thePhiladelphia Gazette. He also sold books, established a circulating library, and set up a debating club that became the American Philosophical Society. In 1751, he also helped to establish an academy that eventually became the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin also extended his own knowledge by the study of foreign languages, philosophy, and science. He repeated the experiments of other scientists and invented the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses, and a glass harmonica. Electricity interested him too, and in 1748 he turned his printing business over to his foreman, so that he could devote his life to science. He arranged a famous experiment of flying a kite in a thunderstorm, which proved that lightning is an electrical discharge. He went on to invent the lightning rod. As a scientist he won recognition from the leading scientists in England and on the Continent.
Franklin was also a diplomat and revolutionary leader. He was Deputy Postmaster General of the American colonies and he reorganized the postal system. He proposed a plan of union for the colonies, which was rejected by both the colonial assemblies and the British government. He was sent to persuade the people of Canada to join the cause against Britain, and in 1776 he was appointed to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, which he signed. In 1778 Franklin also did much to gain French support for the new republic. In 1781 he was chosen as one of the American diplomats to negotiate peace with Britain. He was also President of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia on 17 April 1790.
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