70. Benjamin Franklin: Invention Personified

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Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers who established the United States of America in the mid to late 18th Century. He has been described by his 18th Century peers, and historians alike, as the "First American." This is due to the fact that Franklin played an integral part in creating a revolutionary force in colonial America in defiance of British rule. Franklin wore many hats during his lifetime. He was a politician, inventor, postmaster, scientist, and journalist. He served as President of the state of Pennsylvania, U.S. Minister of France, the first Postmaster General, and Speaker of Pennsylvania.

Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts into a family of 10 children. His family was working-class, so Franklin's rise to prominence was not an easy one. His parents wanted Benjamin to become a clergy member of their church, but at the age of 12, Franklin began working as a printer's apprentice with his older brother. This is where Franklin learned the printing, and news trade that would eventually lead to his Poor Richard's Almanac, and The Philadelphia Gazette publications. This is where Franklin amassed his considerable wealth.

Franklin was also a prolific inventor. He is responsible for inventing such items as the Franklin stove, lightning rod, bifocal glasses, and a flexible catheter. Part of America's popular lore has Franklin proving that lightning has electrical properties by flying a kite in a thunderstorm. This may, or may not have been true, but his legend is firmly in place.

Franklin was a tireless separatist, and fought the English for colonial independence with dogged tenacity. He made at least two diplomatic trips to the British Isles to petition for colonial independence. Upon his return from the second trip, the revolutionary war with England had already begun. He was one of the original signers of the historic Declaration of Independence.

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