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KF5JRV > TODAY    17.04.19 12:42l 67 Lines 3754 Bytes #999 (0) @ WW
BID : 34635_KF5JRV
Subj: Today in History - Apr 17
Sent: 190417/1131Z 34635@KF5JRV.#NWAR.AR.USA.NA BPQ6.0.18

On April 17, 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer
Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84.

Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin became at 12 years old an apprentice to
his half brother James, a printer and publisher. He learned the printing
trade and in 1723 went to Philadelphia to work after a dispute with his
brother. After a sojourn in London, he started a printing and publishing
press with a friend in 1728. In 1729, the company won a contract to
publish Pennsylvania’s paper currency and also began publishing the
Pennsylvania Gazette, which was regarded as one of the better colonial
newspapers. From 1732 to 1757, he wrote and published Poor Richard’s
Almanack, an instructive and humorous periodical in which Franklin
coined such practical American proverbs as “God helps those who help
themselvesö and “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy,
wealthy, and wise.ö

As his own wealth and prestige grew, Franklin took on greater civic
responsibilities in Philadelphia and helped establish the city’s first
circulating library, police force, volunteer fire company, and an
academy that became the University of Pennsylvania. From 1737 to 1753,
he was postmaster of Philadelphia and during this time also served as a
clerk of the Pennsylvania legislature. In 1753, he became deputy
postmaster general, in charge of mail in all the northern colonies.

Deeply interested in science and technology, he invented the Franklin
stove, which is still manufactured today, and bifocal eyeglasses, among
other practical inventions. In 1748, he turned his printing business
over to his partner so he would have more time for his experiments. The
phenomenon of electricity fascinated him, and in a dramatic experiment
he flew a kite in a thunderstorm to prove that lightning is an
electrical discharge. He later invented the lightning rod. Many terms
used in discussing electricity, including positive, negative, battery,
and conductor, were coined by Franklin in his scientific papers. He was
the first American scientist to be highly regarded in European
scientific circles.

Franklin was active in colonial affairs and in 1754 proposed the union
of the colonies, which was rejected by Britain. In 1757, he went to
London to argue for the right to tax the massive estates of the Penn
family in Pennsylvania, and in 1764 went again to ask for a new charter
for Pennsylvania. He was in England when Parliament passed the Stamp
Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in
America. His initial failure to actively oppose the controversial act
drew wide criticism in the colonies, but he soon redeemed himself by
stoutly defending American rights before the House of Commons. With
tensions between the American colonies and Britain rising, he stayed on
in London and served as agent for several colonies.

In 1775, he returned to America as the American Revolution approached
and was a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1776, he helped draft
the Declaration of Independence and in July signed the final document.
Ironically, Franklin’s illegitimate son, William Franklin, whom Franklin
and his wife had raised, had at the same time emerged as a leader of the
Loyalists. In 1776, Congress sent Benjamin Franklin, one of the
embattled United States’ most prominent statesmen, to France as a
diplomat. Warmly embraced, he succeeded in 1778 in securing two treaties
that provided the Americans with significant military and economic aid.
In 1781, with French help, the British were defeated. With John Jay and
John Adams, Franklin then negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Britain,
which was signed in 1783.

73 de Scott KF5JRV


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