Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. He held numerous jobs throughout his lifetime including author, printer, inventor, scientist, postmaster, political theorist, statesman, diplomat, and civic activist. As a scientist he made significant contributions to the history of physics and American innovation through his experiments and discoveries with electricity. He was given the title “The First American” because of his early work with the new colony. He also gave important credibility to the newly forming American nation through his work as an author, spokesman in London, and as the first American ambassador to France. Franklin defined his vision of what a true American should be, reconciling practical values such as hard work, saving, education, self-sufficient institutions and freedom from political and religious oppression, with the scientific and tolerance-based values of the intellectual movement (Southgate 2007).
Ben was born to Josiah Franklin and his second wife Abiah Folger, one of ten children that included an older brother James and younger sister Jane. After working during his early childhood for his father, he started an apprenticeship at the age of 12 to his brother James, a printer. After learning the trade, Ben moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was 17 in search of a new start in a new city. He took several jobs in various printing shops, and while renting a room in the Read home met and proposed to 15 year old Deborah Read, resulting in a common law marriage on Sept. 1, 1730. They had two children together, and having recently discovered a young bastard son named William, Ben and Deborah took him in and raised him as well (Franklin 1771).
As a writer, Franklin often used pen names. His most famous work, Poor Richard’s Almanac, was begun in 1733 under the name Richard Saunders. He was a talented and gifted inventor, and his numerous inventions included the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses, the lightning rod, the glass harmonica, and the flexible urinary catheter. Thomas Malthus gave Franklin credit for figuring out and creating “the rule of population”, which had a significant impact on the emerging science of population study. Developing an interest in the North Atlantic Ocean gyres, Franklin published his much-used Gulf Stream chart in England in 1770. Following its success there, it was later printed in France in 1778 and America in 1786. The discoveries he made during his study of this were the result of his interest in electricity. He was the first person to term the poles negative and positive, and the first to discover “the principle of conservation of charge” (Brands, 2000).
In 1736 Ben founded the Union Fire Company, one of the earliest volunteer companies in America. His creation of the American Philosophical Society followed in 1743, its purpose to provide a way for scientifically minded men to come together to discuss and...