Ben Franklin was born on Jan.17, 1706, Boston and died on April 17, 1790, in Philadelphia .He was a printer and publisher, author, inventor and scientist, and diplomat.
Franklin, was next to George Washington possibly the most famous 18th-century American.
Franklin was born the 10th son of the 17 children of a man who was both soapmaker and candlemaker. He learned to read very early and had one year in grammar school and another under a private teacher, but his formal education ended when he was 10. At 12 he was apprenticed to his brother James, a printer. His mastery of the printer`s trade, of which he was proud to the end of his life, was achieved between 1718 and 1723. In the same period he read tirelessly and taught himself to write effectively.
His first enthusiasm was for poetry, and in the first years of his apprenticeship he wrote two occasional ballads, no copies of which have survived. His father told him that "Verse-makers were always Beggars," and thereafter his interest in poetry was sporadic. Prose was another matter.
The Spectator, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele`s famous periodical of essays, had appeared in England in 1711-12 and was to be imitated for the greater part of a century but seldom with the persistence of Franklin, the printer`s apprentice.
In the 1740s electricity was a novel and fashionable subject.
It was introduced to Philadelphians by an electrical machine sent to the Library Company by one of Franklin`s English correspondents. In the winter of 1746-47, Franklin and three of his friends began to investigate electrical phenomena.
The Philadelphia weather favored them, as did the availability of talented instrument makers. Ingenious experiments and machines were devised and described in personal letters to England, which were relayed to the Royal Society of London or the Gentleman`s Magazine.
These papers were collected in 1751 as Experiments and Observations on Electricity and were translated into French (1752), German (1758), and Italian (1774).
Franklin`s fame spread rapidly.
The experiment he suggested to prove the identity of lightning and electricity was first made in France before he is believed to have tried the simpler but dangerous expedient of flying a kite in a thunderstorm. He and his associates concluded early that the "Electrical Fire" was "an Element diffused among, and attracted by other matter, particularly by Water and Metals." When a body with an overquantity approached one with an underquantity, a discharge equalized the electrical fire in the two.
This "one fluid" theory accounted for more of the observable phenomena than had any previous hypothesis, and his suggestion that buildings be protected from lightning by erecting pointed iron rods proved both practical and dramatic. Franklin may not have been as original as some admirers have thought, and his collaborators may not have received their full share of credit, but he invented many terms still used in discussing electricity (positive, negative, battery, conductor, and so on) and described the experiments with lucidity.
At 79, with a large stone in his bladder that made travel by carriage an agony, Franklin was carried to the port of Le Havre in a litter. Back in Philadelphia he lived quietly but continued to take some part in public life. His most important service was as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
There he failed to convince his associates that an executive committee would be better than a president as head of state and that there should be a unicameral legislature. On the last day of the convention, a colleague read for him a plea that objections to the new form of government, his own among them, should be forgotten and that delegates should unanimously support the instrument that they had hammered out. Franklin`s motion was promptly carried.
For the last year of his life he was bedridden, escaping severe pain only by the use of opium.
He died in 1790 at age 84.