What didn't Ben Franklin do?
Benjamin Franklin, born 300 years ago Tuesday, was one of America's Founding Fathers. But he was also a printer, author, musician, and scientist.
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At the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Franklin signed the Treaty of Paris. It officially recognized the Colonies as independent of England. Four years later, Franklin helped draft the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution's governing principles are still followed today.Skip to next paragraph
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Franklin was the only person to sign all three documents so important to our history. And in doing so, he helped forge a new, independent United States.
These actions were typical of Franklin's fearless approach to life: He stood in a thunderstorm to fly a kite to prove his theory of electricity; he left Boston for Philadelphia while still a teenager to start his own business; he printed articles that sometimes challenged public opinion. All of those things took courage.
That's what made Benjamin Franklin such a good scientist and inventor. And that's what made him such a great politician and leader: He stood up for what he believed in. And he wasn't afraid to express his views and to help create a nation.
Franklin invented swim flippers in 1717, when he was only 11 years old.
Check a book out of the library.
In 1731 Franklin established the Library Company of Philadelphia, the oldest lending library in America.
Prevent money fraud.
In 1739, Franklin was asked by the Pennsylvania Land Bank to print its bank notes. He was one of the first printers to use security features such as special dyes on paper money to prevent counterfeiting of bills.
Laugh at your favorite politician.
Franklin created the first political cartoon in North America. It was published in 1747 in a pamphlet called "Plain Truth."
Protect your house from lightning.
Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1750.
Collect insurance after a fire.
Franklin founded America's first mutual insurance company in 1751.
Use batteries to power a flashlight.
Franklin's famous kite-and-key experiment led to more discoveries about electricity. He learned that an electric current has a positive and negative charge. (That's why batteries have both a positive and negative side.)
Mail your best friend a birthday card.
When he was appointed deputy postmaster general of North America in 1753, Franklin made delivery routes more efficient.
Listen to Mozart and Beethoven.
In 1761, Franklin invented a musical instrument called a glass armonica. Music came from spinning various-size glass bowls dampened by water. This instrument inspired compositions by some of the world's greatest composers.
Enjoy the Fourth of July.
On July 4, 1776, Franklin was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Sources: www.gophila.com/pressroom; www.benfranklin300.org.
Many exhibitions will celebrate the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary in the United States this year. These two have numerous learning activities and hands-on programs geared to kids.
"Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World" contains more than 250 displays. It is at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia through April 30. It then travels to St. Louis, Houston, Denver, and Atlanta, before concluding in Paris in December 2007. For more information, visit www.constitution center.org.
"Benjamin Franklin: In his Own Words" presents a collection of about 75 items, including personal essays, books, and maps from his private library. It is a part of the "American Treasures" exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington through June 17. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-244.html.