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Ben Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin

During the period after America's "birth" There were many incredible people but none more so than Benjamin Franklin. Ben is considered one of America's greatest citizens. He accomplished many things in his lifetime; he was a scientist, an inventor, a politician, a printer, a philosopher, a musician, and an economist.

At the age of twelve, Ben Franklin first began to learn the business of printing. As an apprentice to his older brother James, who had set up a printing office in Boston, Ben learned quickly. By the time Ben was seventeen, he was a fully skilled printer able to work in any print shop. With this skill, Ben was able to leave Boston and find work in both Philadelphia and London. In 1728, at the age of twenty-two, Franklin opened his own printing office in Philadelphia. He published a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette and his annual Poor Richard's Almanac. He published cartoons and illustrated news stories, and letters to the editor. He believed in the power of the press, using his printing press as a way to bring the news to all people. He used cartoons and pictures so that everyone could understand the news, especially to people who had not learned to read. In 1731, Franklin set up the first ever circulating library where people could checkout books so they could read even if they couldn't afford to buy books.

In the 1700s, a scientist was someone who thought about the way things work and tried to figure out ways to make things work better. Every time Ben Franklin saw a question and tried to answer it, Ben is most famous for his questions about electricity. He hypothesized that lightning was an electrical current. To test his theory he needed to see whether or not lightning would pass through metal. So he attached a metal key to a kite and flew it in a storm. His experiment proved that lightning was a stream of electrified air, known as plasma. Ben realized that lightning was immensely powerful, so he invented the lightning rod. The lightning rod is a piece of metal attached to a building, house, boat, etc. When lightning strikes the building the rod will attract it and channel the electricity down to the ground where it will do much less damage. This invention has help protect buildings of today greatly.

In 1743, Ben Franklin was watching a storm move in. He wondered why the storms were moving the opposite direction from where the wind was blowing. Franklin believed that a storm course could be plotted. Ben chased the storm on horseback Ñ* of a mile to see how it worked. He later printed weather forecasts in his almanac. In his travels across the Atlantic Ocean he became interested in ocean currents and shipbuilding. He measured temperatures on each of his eight trips to Europe and eventually plotted a Gulf Stream.

In November of 1783, Ben was in Paris, France working on a Peace Treaty to end the American war against England. From his window, he saw the worlds first known hot air balloon flight. The balloon lifted the Montgolfier brothers off of the ground as the first human beings ever known to fly. Ben was very interested in the idea of flight. He predicted that balloons would eventually be used for military spy flights and dropping bombs during battle.

Ben's natural curiosity about things and the way they work made him try to find ways to make things work better. A list of Benjamin Franklin's inventions reveals a brilliant man. Ben was cursed with poor vision, both farsighted and nearsighted. Franklin got frustrated with having to take off his glasses every time he needed to read something.



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