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Benjamin Franklin's Birthday
January 17

By Cynthia Kirkeby, Sarah Lane
Jan 20, 2008, 14:00 PST

Benjamin Franklin
ClipArt available from
Born in Boston on January 17th, Benjamin Franklin was known to all as an exemplary member of the Founding Fathers of our great nation.  He will be remembered as an inventor, scientist, statesman, printer, librarian, musician, philosopher and economist.  Most of all, he will be remembered for being a great man.

Ben Franklin the Inventor
Many things we use today are a result of experiments done by Ben Franklin to improve everyday living.  Bifocal lenses, the Franklin stove, watertight bulkheads, and swim fins are just a few of the inventions Ben came up with.  He also created the first odometer (a devise for measuring distance) so that he could measure his postal routes when he worked as a postmaster.  Ben Franklin also created something called the "long arm", which is a tool with claws at the end used to grasp things that are hard to reach.
Ben Franklin the Scientist
Franklin was the first person to conduct extensive research on electricity.  In June 1752, he used a kite to prove lightning was a stream of electrified air called plasma.  The study he did on lightning led him to develop the lightning rod to protect people, especially on ships.  His studies encouraged others to follow suit.
Ben Franklin the Statesman 
As the only person to sign all four documents that created the United States of America, Franklin was quite a statesman.  He signed The Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, and the Treaty of Peace with England, France, and the United States in 1782.  Most importantly, he signed The Constitution in 1787.
Ben Franklin the Printer
By the age of 22, Franklin owned and operated his own printing office.  He published a newspaper called "The Pennsylvania Gazette," and was appointed the official printer of Pennsylvania.  His annual publication, "Poor Richard's Almanack," sold over 10,000 copies a year!  For those of you who like good illustrations in your books, you may find it interesting that Ben Franklin also came up with the idea of using cartoons in his publications so that people who couldn't read would understand the subject matter.
Ben Franklin the Librarian
Franklin started the very first public library with a lending program.  Soon, the idea caught on, and it was even used by the upper crust of colonial society.
Ben Franklin the Musician
Even though he played the violin, harp, and guitar, Franklin managed to build his own instrument out of glass called the Armonica.
Ben Franklin the Philosopher
Ben never wasted time.  He loved life, and will always be known as one of America's great thinkers.  His essay on why the rattlesnake should be a symbol of our nation is very insightful.  Although it was signed by, "An American Guesser" it is now known that Franklin wrote the piece himself.  He also thought that the turkey was better than the eagle as our national bird!
Ben Franklin the Economist
Franklin believed that true wealth came from hard work and this became the heart and soul of the "American Dream."   The idea that all people were created equal expanded and became our nation's catch phrase.  He used his printing skills to print paper money and his face appears on the $100 bill we use today.

Franklin Worksheets

Ben Franklin Word Shapes
Find the words in this puzzle that are related to Ben Franklin’s life.

Ben Franklin Word Search
Discover all the talents Ben Franklin explored during his life.

Additional Learning Links

Ben's Guide (with a Parent/Teacher section)
This site covers his work as a printer, librarian, inventor, and statesman.
Source: The U.S. Government Printing Office
Glimpses of the Man
A fun Quicktime movie of what Ben was like, and a thorough timeline of his life highlight this small site about Ben Franklin.
Source:     The Franklin Institute Science Museum,
The Electric Franklin
The Franklin Internet project had one goal in mind: to bring Ben Franklin to a world audience in a colorful, engaging range of presentations, capturing the interests and imaginations of students, and people of all ages and walks of life. From primary source material, narratives, activities, interactive games, streaming videos, 360 degree interactive panoramas, and scores of pictures -- this site has something for everyone.
Source:  The Independence Hall Association
Benjamin Franklin: In Search of A Better World
This site highlights a traveling exhibition on Benjamin Franklin in honor of his tercentenary - 300th birthday! Happy Birthday Ben!
Source: Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

Recommended Reading

blank table
Benjamin Franklin
by Edmund S. Morgan
Ben and Me: A New and Astonishing Life of Benjamin franklin As Written by His Mouse Amos
by Robert Lawson

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