Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
                                                                  By Laura Ashley Childress
On January 17, 1706 on Milk Street in Boston, a baby boy was born. His name? Benjamin Franklin. Only he wasn’t famous then. He was just Ben. Ben was the youngest boy of seventeen children, and he was always getting into mischief.  Ben went to school until he was 10. After school, he often went fishing with friends. The boys didn’t like how muddy it was around the pond, so Ben suggested they take some workmen’s stones from a nearby building site. The boys built a wharf under Ben’s direction, even though several boys mentioned that they shouldn’t.
Then they all had a great time fishing from their new wharf. The next day, some angry workmen came to see Ben’s father, a candle maker, about Ben and his friends. Quickly and angrily they explained about the theft of their stones, and then they all turned to Ben. Ben said to his father, “You always tell me to do useful things. The wharf was useful!” his father replied “It’s true, Ben, that usefulness is good… Nothing is truly useful that isn’t honest. But the stones didn’t belong to you. Nothing is useful if it is not honest.” Ben and his friends had to but all the stones back!

When Ben was 12, he decided he wanted to be a printer so he was apprenticed to his older brother James, who was a printer. James and Ben didn’t get along, and Ben thought he could write better than James did. So he wrote several funny letters to James’ paper and signed them “Silence Dogood”. James thought they were witty and clever so he published them. Ben finally told James he wrote them and James was very mad. He and Ben argued all the time, so Ben ran away when he was 17. He went to a print shop in New York, hoping to find work, but the kind elderly man who owned the shop had no work for Ben. He told Ben to see his son in Philadelphia, who also was a printer. The son couldn’t give Ben a job, but he found him a job at a local printer’s and let Ben board with him.  It was there that Ben met Deborah (Debby) Read, who he would later marry. Later Ben opened his own printing shop/ store.
By the time he was 25, he was married to Debby, had a son, and ran a printing shop. He also published a newspaper, and Debby ran a store next to the printing shop. When he was 26, he published Poor Richard’s Almanac under the pen name Richard Saunders. It was full of facts, funny sayings, recipes, and more.

Eventually Ben and Debby had 3 children, William, Sarah (she was called Sally) and Francis (who died when he was 4).When Ben was 42, he decided to stop working. This gave him time to work on experiments, especially the study of lightning. When Ben’s son Will was 21, he and his father went into a pasture and conducted their famous kite-and lightning experiment. Ben invented many things, such as bifocals, the Franklin stove,
a glass armonica, the lightning rod, and an odometer.

Later George Washington sent him to France to ask for financial aid for America in the Revolutionary War. The French hailed Ben as “the man who tore the lightning from the sky.” The ragged old fur hat that he wore was called “charming”, and women styled their hair like it! Everyone in France loved Ben, and this helped him get millions of francs from the King of France. Ben played a crucial part in the War, and he was proud of this. He was the oldest man to help write the Constitution, and he helped with the writing of the Declaration of Independence. One of the last experiments was to help a friend hear better. He discovered if you pushed on your ear, you could hear much better than if you hadn’t. Ben died on April 17, 1790, in Philadelphia. You can still go to Franklin Court in Philadelphia, and see museums, Franklin’s home site, and many other things related to Ben.

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