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Ben Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 - April 17, 1790) was one of the most well-known Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a leading author, politician, printer, scientist, philosopher, publisher, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat. As a scientist he was a major figure in the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As a political writer and activist he, more than anyone, invented the idea of an American nation[1], and as a diplomat during the American Revolution, he secured the French alliance that helped to make independence possible.

Franklin was noted for his curiosity, his writings (popular, political and scientific), and his diversity of interests. As a leader of the Enlightenment, he gained the recognition of scientists and intellectuals across Europe. An agent in London before the Revolution, and Minister to France during it, he more than anyone defined the new nation in the minds of Europe. His success in securing French military and financial aid was a great contributor to the American victory over Britain. He invented the lightning rod; he was an early proponent of colonial unity; historians hail him as the "First American."

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Franklin learned printing from his older brother and became a newspaper editor, printer, and merchant in Philadelphia, becoming very wealthy. He spent many years in England and published the famous Poor Richard's Almanac and the Pennsylvania Gazette. He formed both the first public lending library and fire department in America as well as the Junto, a political discussion club. During this period he wrote in favor of paper money, against mercantilist policies such as the Iron Act of 1750, and also drafted, in 1754, the Albany Plan of Union, which would have created a continental legislature; demonstrating how early he conceived of the colonies as being naturally one political unit.




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