You probably know that Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers of the United States, but did you also know that he was a fearless and adventurous scientist who almost electrocuted himself twice? He conducted several risky experiments because he was so fascinated by electricity. He flew a kite in a thunderstorm, tried to cure a man of paralysis with electric shock, and attempted to kill a turkey with electricity. These are just some of the amazing facts about Benjamin Franklin that will blow your mind.
Ben Franklin was a remarkable man. He was a scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and a founding father of the United States. He made many contributions to the world, but he also had some secrets and surprises. In this blog post, we will find out 10 more incredible facts about Benjamin Franklin that you might have never heard before or maybe you haven’t heard or read in general.
Let’s begin and discover some facts about Benjamin Franklin that you might not know.
Here are 10 facts about Benjamin Franklin
1. Famous Things Ben Didn’t Say
You may have seen some quotes by Ben Franklin on social media or in books. But did you know that some of them are actually not his words? For example, he never said:
- “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
This is a variation of a proverb that dates back to the 17th century. The closest thing he said was: “A penny saved is two pence clear.”
- “God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy.”
This is a misquote of a letter he wrote about wine. What he actually said was: “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; it goes into the roots of the vines and transforms into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
- “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.”
This is a paraphrase of a remark he made about the king of Prussia. What he really said was: “If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practised it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here and in New England. Perhaps this is a universal truth. If so, it is as great a one as any contained in this book. It is a historical fact, that the most celebrated and most useful of the modern inventions in the arts, is the art of printing. Also, it is well known, that the art of printing was invented by a German, and that the first books printed were Bibles. It is also well known, that the art of printing was first introduced into England by a German, who printed Bibles. It is likewise well known, that the first book printed in America was a Bible, and that it was printed by a German. And it is a fact, that the Germans have been the most industrious and successful printers in America, from the first settlement of the country to the present time. But what is not so generally known, and what I am willing to make known to the world, is, that the Germans have been the most zealous promoters of that most useful of all arts, the art of making good beer. And I have no doubt, that if the king of Prussia were to send over a few of his best brewers to instruct us in their art, he would do more for the happiness of America, than by sending over a hundred of his best divines. For in truth, lighthouses are more useful than churches.”
- “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain … and most fools do.”
This is a quote from Dale Carnegie, who wrote a book about Franklin. Franklin never said anything like this, but he did say: “Our critics are our friends, they show us our faults.”
2. Ben in Pop Culture
Many forms of popular culture, including comics, video games, movies, and TV shows, have featured Benjamin Franklin. Some examples are:
- Franklin appeared as a playable character in the video game Assassin’s Creed III, where he helps the protagonist in his quest.
- Tom Wilkinson portrayed him in the movie John Adams, playing the role of a diplomat in France.
- In the musical comedy called 1776, he actively sings and dances alongside other founding fathers.
- Additionally, he was a recurring character in the animated series Liberty’s Kids, where he mentors two young reporters.
- He was a guest star in the comic book series Deadpool, where he teams up with the anti-hero to fight zombies.
- In the comic book series Doctor Strange, he plays a supporting character and reveals himself as a sorcerer and a member of the Illuminati.
3. Ben is the Only President Who Was Never President
Many refer to Benjamin Franklin as the first American, yet he never assumed the role of the president of the United States. Surprisingly, he remains the sole founding father who never occupied that position. He did, however, serve as the president of Pennsylvania, which was equivalent to a governor at the time. He was also the first postmaster general of the United States and the first ambassador to France.
4. Franklin was the oldest of the Founding Fathers and the first to die
Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, making him the oldest of the founding fathers. He was also the first to die, passing away in 1790 at the age of 84. He lived a long and productive life, despite suffering from various ailments, such as gout, kidney stones, and a bladder infection. However, thousands of people visit his grave in Philadelphia every year since he was buried there.
5. The Revolutionary War caused a split in the relationship between Franklin and his son, William Franklin, who remained loyal to the British.
Benjamin Franklin had an illegitimate son named William, who was born in 1730. William grew up to be a loyalist, meaning he supported the British crown during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, the Patriots arrested him after he assumed the role of governor of New Jersey. Subsequently, he was exchanged for a prisoner of war and relocated to England. Benjamin and William never reconciled, and they died estranged from each other.
6. Ben is the only founding papa to sign all four of the most foundational documents of the country
Benjamin Franklin was a key figure in the creation of the United States. He was the only Founding Father to sign all four of the most important documents that shaped the nation. These are:
- The Declaration of Independence, which declared the colonies’ independence from Britain in 1776.
- The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War and recognized the United States as a sovereign nation in 1783.
- The Constitution of the United States, which established the federal system of government and the rights of the citizens in 1787.
- The Bill of Rights, which added the first ten amendments to the Constitution and guaranteed the freedoms of the people in 1791.
7. He got a tree named after him.
Benjamin Franklin was a lover of nature and a supporter of conservation. He also loved the Chinese ginkgo tree because he saw it as a living fossil. Franklin also planted several ginkgo trees in his garden in Philadelphia and sent seeds to his friends in Europe. Moreover, he also wrote an essay about the ginkgo tree, praising its beauty and resilience. In 2006, scientists discovered a new type of ginkgo in China, and they named it Ginkgo biloba var. franklinii, to honor Franklin.
8. Without Ben, Baby Boomers wouldn’t have bifocals
Benjamin Franklin loved to read and write, but he struggled with presbyopia, a condition that makes it difficult to see things up close. He found it irritating to switch between two pairs of glasses—one for reading and one for distance. Also, Benjamin decided to invent a solution and came up with the idea of bifocals, which are glasses that have two lenses with different focal lengths. He made his own pair of bifocals and wore them for the rest of his life. He also shared his invention with his friends, but he never patented it.
9. Benjamin Franklin Was Once The Richest Person In America But He Could Have Been Richer If He’d Patented His Inventions
Benjamin Franklin was a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He started his career as a printer and published several newspapers, magazines, and books. Franklin also founded the first public library, the first fire department, and the first hospital in America. He made a fortune from his ventures and became one of the richest people in the country. But, he could have made more money if he patented his inventions like the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, and the odometer. He chose not to because he believed that his inventions should be freely available for the benefit of mankind.
10. Franklin’s autobiography appeared in 1971
Benjamin Franklin penned an influential autobiography, widely regarded as one of the most impactful memoirs in American literature. However, he began this writing journey at the age of 65 in 1771 and persisted until 1789, just a year before his passing. He intended it to be a letter to his son, William, but he also addressed it to the general public. Moreover, he also narrated his life story, his achievements, his failures, and his lessons learned. He also gave advice on various topics, such as self-improvement, education, and morality. But he didn’t publish his autobiography in full until 1971. They finally released a complete and accurate edition at that time.
You have learned some amazing facts about Benjamin Franklin in this post. He was not only a founding father of the United States, but also a prolific inventor, writer, diplomat, and scientist. He contributed to many fields of knowledge and left a lasting legacy for generations to come.
Benjamin Franklin was a remarkable person who embodied the spirit of curiosity, creativity, and innovation. He was always eager to learn new things and improve himself and the world around him. He is an inspiration for anyone who wants to pursue their passions and make a difference.
Let us know what are some other facts about Benjamin Franklin that you know or want to learn more about.