What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin

Trista - January 4, 2019

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin and William Franklin during the kite experiment. Hulton Archive/Getty Images/The New Republic.

13. Benjamin Franklin Became Estrange From William

Before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin and his oldest son, William, had a wonderful relationship. Unfortunately, the father and son became estranged when Benjamin started fighting for American independence and William continued to support the British. Franklin wrote his son out of his will after William refused to step down as royal governor of New Jersey. Franklin spoke to William for the last time in the 1780s, when Franklin was traveling back to America from France.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that carries warm water up the eastern coast of the United states and Canada and on to western Europe. A map that features the Gulf Stream. Scijinks.

12. Franklin Became The First Person To Map The Gulf Stream

In total, Benjamin Franklin made about eight trips along the Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, he started to know the waters well. Franklin also noted that there was something off about the maps along the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, Franklin took it upon himself to fix the map. He corrected the route by adding what became known as the Gulf Stream, which is a swift and warm current that originates from the Gulf of Mexico and stretches to the tip of Florida.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin wrote of a swim fin prototype of wooden paddles he placed on his hands that he used as youngster to help him swim faster. Sutori.

11. Benjamin Franklin’s Created His First Invention As A Child

Benjamin Franklin started to create his invention at the age of 11. Actually, his first invention known to date is that of a swim fin. While Franklin’s drawing of a wooden swim fin is different from the swim fins we use today, it had the same concept. However, this does not mean that Franklin’s swim fin invention has gone unnoticed. Franklin’s swim fin invention even won him a spot in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Lady Howe mating Benjamin Franklin 1867 painting by Edward Harrison May. Yale University/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

10. Franklin Received An Induction Into The Chess Hall Of Fame

Benjamin Franklin became a pioneer in many areas of everyday life. Other than creating the first swim fin, Franklin also became known as a great Chess player. In fact, Franklin had a strong passion for the game of Chess and received an induction into the United States Chess Hall of Fame in 1999. Historians came to find that while the game was not popular in Franklin’s time, he often made it popular wherever he lived at the time.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
The Benjamin Franklin Memorial. Franklin Institute.

9. Franklin Received Honorary Degrees

Benjamin Franklin only received two years of formal education, from the ages of eight to ten, before his father, Josiah, pulled him out of school to begin working in the family’s soap business. However, this did not stop Benjamin Franklin from becoming one of the most significant historical figures in United States history. It also did not stop colleges, such as Yale University, England’s Oxford University, William and Mary, and Harvard University, from awarding Benjamin Franklin with Honorary college degrees.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Franklin’s 13 virtues. Paul Helmick.

8. Franklin Strived To Live By 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin tried to live the best life he could. Every day, Franklin would work to be a better person than he was the day before. In order to help himself in his quest, around the age of 20, Franklin created a list of 13 virtues. Every day, Franklin would pick an attribute and work on acting it out the best way he could. In his mind, Franklin believed that these virtues would lead him to become the best person he could be.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
An illustration of Benjamin Franklin as a firefighter. All That’s Interesting.

7. Benjamin Franklin Started The First Volunteer Fire Department

As stated before, Benjamin Franklin wrote about anything he felt or believed people could improve on. One of these issues was the need for better fire protection. Through a series of articles, he wrote and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Franklin discussed the idea of better fire protection, and soon others came into action to help with this idea. Together, this group of people established the Union Fire Company of Pennsylvania in December of 1736, which makes this the first volunteer fire department. Over time, the fire department also became known as Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
A painting of Benjamin Franklin. Education Reviews.

6. Benjamin Franklin Was A Fashion Icon

It seems that nearly everything Benjamin Franklin did in his life, he succeeded. This concept is even real when it came down to fashion. While Benjamin Franklin wore the same types of suits that many other men of his day and social class wore, he became known as a fashion icon in France. This idea was especially true when Franklin would wear his plain American clothes with a rustic fur hat. This look especially caught on for women of the time, and soon they were wearing fur hats wherever they went.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin and skeleton bones in the dirt. Vintage News.

5. Human Bones Were Found In Franklin’s Basement

Franklin lived in London for nearly 20 years while he was an ambassador for America. During this time, Franklin lived in a home which was renovated by the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House in 1998. The plan was to restore the house so it could become a museum. While this house is now a museum, during renovation contractors found more than 1,000 human bones in the basement. Of course, this secret was taken to the grave by Franklin so we may never know exactly why but some believe it was because Franklin was into the anatomy.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography book. Aliens in the Apple.

4. Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography Is Still The Most Popular Book In Its Genre

Benjamin Franklin started writing his autobiography early in his life. He would work on a little bit here and there and then not touch it for years. However, in 1771, Benjamin Franklin realized he was getting old and began to work nearly around the clock to get his autobiography completed. While he did finish his autobiography years before his death but never published it in his lifetime, today, Franklin’s autobiography is a classic piece of literature in its genre and still a top-rated book.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
The first U.S. postage stamp: Ben Franklin (Red Brown) 5 Cents (Scott #1) U.S. Post Office, 1847. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

3. Franklin Nearly Died In A Fire

Like with most people of his time, Benjamin Franklin enjoyed going to see shows. During his time, he saw many plays in theaters and opera houses. However, one performance in 1781 would almost cause his death. As Benjamin Franklin was enjoying the show with the rest of the crowd, a fire started in the theater. Of course, it became chaos as people were trying to leave and Franklin, along with many others, barely escaped the burning building, which was destroyed by the fire.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin. Library of Congress.

2. Benjamin Franklin Was A Librarian

Benjamin Franklin not only started the first volunteer fire department in Pennsylvania, but he also started the first lending library. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia. This library was a bit different than what we know of libraries today, but it did create the foundation for the modern-day free public libraries. Franklin not only served as a librarian for the library, but he also served as the library’s secretary from 1746 until 1757.

What All History Lovers Should Know About Benjamin Franklin

First lending library known as the Library Company of Philadelphia by Charles Mills murals. Benjamin Franklin History.

1. Franklin Created An Arm To Reach Books

Throughout his life, Benjamin Franklin had a love for books and what would become known as libraries. While Benjamin Franklin was not a short person, his height was about 5 feet, 9 inches; he still had trouble reaching books that were on the top shelves. Therefore, Franklin did what he knew to do and invented contraception which would help him reach these books. Franklin invented a mechanical arm which someone could wear that would allow them to help get the books on the top shelves.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Benjamin Franklin and His Son, Divided by Independence.” Matthew Simpson, New Republic. July 2017.

“Abolitionist.” PBS.

“Franklin’s Glass Harmonica.” The Franklin Institute.

“Benjamin Franklin’s illegitimate son William was exiled to Britain because of his Loyalist activities during the American Revolutionary War.” Ian Harvey, Vintage News. March 2017.

“Benjamin Franklin Facts.” Fact Slides.

“33 Things You Never Knew About Benjamin Franklin.” All That’s Interesting. July 2017.

“Ben Franklin and Chess.” Batgirl, Chess. August 2013.

“Renovation of Benjamin Franklin’s home reveals 1200 human bones in his basement.” Ian Harvey, Vintage News. June 2016.

“Benjamin Franklin, Friend of Libraries.” Larry T. Nix, The Library History Buff. January 2012.

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