Benjamin Franklin is famous for his kite and key experiments with electricity but Franklin had many great accomplishments. The printer, postmaster, author and diplomat, was also an inventor, philosopher and philanthropists. Here are ten highlights of Benjamin’s Franklins contributions to society.
At the age of 21, young Ben Franklin establishes the Junto club, a club for tradesmen like shoemakers, cabinetmakers, surveyors, glass makers, and of course, printers, to discuss current events. In 1743 Franklin expanded the idea to form the American Philosophical Society, which still conducts and publishes research.
In 1731, Ben Franklin founds the first circulating library, the Library Company of Philadelphia. Members had to pay dues to borrow books but the library made reading for pleasure fashionable. Today the Library Company has over 500,000 books.
Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanac, a book of useful facts including weather predictions and phases of the moon, as well as jokes and riddles. Benjamin Franklin was no the first to publish an almanac but his was more humorous and interesting and soon made Ben Franklin, writing as “Poor Richard,” famous and wealthy.
At the age of 30, Benjamin Franklin organizes Philadelphia’s first fire company. After a tragic fire at Fishburne’s Wharf, Franklin wrote articles for the Gazette with fire safety tips and proposals for preparedness and prevention. Thirty men joined the first Union Fire Company of Philadelphia.
Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin stove in 1744, a cast iron stove that could sit in the middles of a room and distribute heat more evenly. Franklin turned down a patent, which could have made him a fortune. He wrote in his autobiography that new inventions should be shared to help others.
Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond established the first hospital in North America. Bond, a fellow member of the American Philosophical Society, was an American doctor who studied medicine in France and England. With money from a now wealthy Ben Franklin, the Pennsylvania Hospital opened in 1752 and is still operating today.
In the 1760’s, Franklin maps colonial postal routes and he and his cousin Timothy Folger print a map of the Gulf Stream.
Benjamin Franklin also invented the odometer. As a postmaster of the colonies, Franklin wanted to learn the fastest routes for mail delivery. The odometer counted how many times the wheels of the mail cart went around and greatly improved the speed of mail delivery.
An elder Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals to aid his failing sight. Franklin had two pair of glasses, one for reading and another for distance. He had the lenses of each cut in half and joined together so that “…I only have to move my eyes up or down, as I want to see distinctly far or near…”
Benjamin Franklin was a signer of the Declarations of Independence, the peace treaty with Britain, the United States Constitution and at the ate of 83, he signed a petition to the first Congress of the United State’s asking for an end to slavery.
The Story of Benjamin Franklin, Amazing Americans by Margaret Davidson
Benjamin Franklin, American Statesmen, Scientist and Writer by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Benjamin Franklin, Revolutionary Inventor by Maria Mihalik Higgins