Yesterday was Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, as he was born on January 17th in 1706. Who was he and what did he do? It’s hard to know where to begin. He was active as a writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and political philosopher. Among the leading intellectuals of his time, Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a drafter and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and even the first United States Postmaster General. His fame has truly lasted for centuries.
Describing Franklin is no easy task. As U Maryland Professor Richard Bell explains, he had many fascinating beliefs that were sometimes hard to reconcile.
The Book That Made Him Famous
It wasn’t until Franklin’s experiments with electricity were published in England that his fame skyrocketed. According to Stanford Professor, Caroline Winterer, America simply wasn’t important enough for the scientific world to pay much attention to.
He Taught Swimming?
Professor Winterer also explains what few people know: Franklin actually developed a method of teaching people to swim that’s still used today.
When Franklin did something, he generally did it extraordinarily well. Boston U Professor Robert Allison says there was a notable exception to that observation, though: composing music.
Almost in the Musical Hamilton
Professor Bell plays a song composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda about Ben Franklin that he wrote for the Broadway musical Hamilton, but it was ultimately dropped from the show.
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