Benjamin Franklin Illustration

The American Revolution
for Kids

Benjamin Franklin

 
 

Ben Franklin is one of the most loved and well known founders of the United States of America. He was quite a personality. He was a writer, publisher, scientist, inventor, musician, and diplomat.

He wrote Poor Richard's Almanac, which made him rich. The only book that outsold Poor Richard's Almanac in the colonies was the Bible.

He used pseudonyms (pen names) to write humorous letters that expressed his point of view on many subjects. These letters were published in various newspapers, including his own newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. Some of the names he used were Silence Dogood, Alice Addertongue, Anthony Afterwit, Martha Careful, Miss Body (for the Busy Body letters), and Benevolous.

He was Deputy Postmaster General for North American under the British for over 20 years. He created new and more efficient routes that greatly reduced the time it took to received a letter.

He taught himself German, French, and Italian. He played the violin, the harp, and the guitar. He also composed music.

He served as ambassador to several countries including England, France, and Canada. The English were not that fond of him. Most Englishmen thought of American colonists as rude and coarse. Ben Franklin did not appreciate their attitude at all. But the French loved him!

The French called him a "natural man" because they thought of the American colonists as ideal humans, more rustic than those living in the urban centers of Europe.

Franklin played up this image. He always wore his coonskin cap when he was in France. He wrote his daughter a letter and said, "My picture is everywhere, on the top of snuff boxes, on rings, on busts. My portrait is a best seller. Your father's face is now as well known as the man in the moon."

He turned his popularity in France into a tremendous advantage for the patriots. While serving as Ambassador to France, Ben Franklin was able to persuade the French to support the colonial effort with large amounts of money, supplies, and manpower, including ships and experienced military leaders. This was enormously important to the successful outcome of the Revolutionary War for the colonists.

Ben Franklin was also a scientist. He discovered many laws about electricity, and invented many things including the lightening rod, bifocals, street lights, swim fins, and the Franklin stove. He never patented any of his inventions. He believed that inventions should be freely shared.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin created the first United States coin in 1787. One side had a design of 13 linked circles and the statement "We Are One". On the other side, the coin said, "Mind Your Own Business".

He created the first lending library, the first hospital, the first volunteer fire department, and was the driving force behind the establishment of fire insurance.

One of the most interesting things about Franklin was his willingness to change his mind when faced with new facts. Franklin was incredibly curious and always sought new information, a personality trait that contributed greatly to his success as a spy (when he served on the committee of Secret Correspondence in 1775.)

There is a wonderful story about Ben Franklin that may or may not be true. But it sounds just like him. For quite a while, Ben Franklin believed that African people were less intelligent than white people. One day, he visited an African-American school. The kids in that school convinced him that blacks and whites were equally intelligent.

It is true that after the Revolutionary War, Ben Franklin did work hard to abolish slavery. He did not accomplish this in his lifetime, but he did convince quite a few people that slavery was wrong.

And somehow, in his busy life, he found time to help write and sign the Declaration of Independence at the age of 70, and later, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.

This quick look at Benjamin Franklin mentions only a few of his many accomplishments. Even with such a quick look, I think you can see why Ben Franklin is one of the most loved and well known founders of the United States of America.

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