Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ben Franklin and his remarkable achievements

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin

1706 Benjamin Franklin (d. April 17, 1790), American journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, public servant, scientist, diplomat, and inventor who was also one of the leaders of the American Revolution, known also for his many quotations and his experiments with electricity. He corresponded with members of the Lunar Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1775, Franklin became the first US Postmaster General.

Franklin was born on January 6, 1706, which was then Epiphany, but in 1752, when he was 46, England and her colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar and also changed to New Style, which dropped 11 days. Thus we remember this American 'Renaissance man' on January 17.

Long before there was Wilson's Almanac, there was Poor Richard's Almanac, by Ben Franklin, the first American bestselling book, which gave the young Franklin financial security to begin his life's work doing … absolutely everything.

The prodigious accomplishments of the boy who left school aged ten include: the foundation of the Society to Abolish Slavery and the American Philosophical Society, the first US hospital and its first lending library, its first police and fire departments and the first American fire insurance company. He invented the lightning rod, a platform rocking chair, the step ladder that folds down into a chair, the Franklin stove (still popular today) and bifocals. He created the first efficient postal service in the USA, and an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania.

He was America's first newspaper cartoonist; the US Ambassador to England and France (helping to cement the alliance so valuable to the American Revolution); a musician, philanthropist, cartographer, linguist and printer. He sat on the committee that drafted the US Declaration of Independence. He founded a popular publication, the Pennsylvania Gazette, later to become The Saturday Evening Post. He invented swim fins, and a tool to get books off of high shelves; he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress; he established two major fields of physical science, electricity and meteorology. Old Ben wrote a scientific essay that for the first time described the existence of the Gulf Stream.

He also wrote essays on how to select a mistress (pick an older woman) – he was something of a ladies' man and a member of England's infamous and licentious Hellfire Club – and how to avoid flatulence (drink perfume); in 1737 he drew up the first formal list of American slang terms for drunkenness (coming up with an impressive 228).

On top of all that, he was also said to have been a likeable man ...

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