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Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin was born into a family of 19 in 1706. He was one of the most amazingly productive people that have ever lived on this earth. Not only is his list of accomplishments impressive, but much of his humor in writing lives to this day. He died in 1790 at the age of 83. He did not waste his time on this earth.

The Franklin stove as we know it today is a fireplace with cast iron doors. This is not the woodstove that Ben invented. His version has disappeared from modern times. It was an airtight, which is more efficient than most of the stoves used at that time. But, his invention was so complex and awkward to light that it never gained much favor in American homes.

It looked somewhat like an egg on a pedestal. The air came in through vents in the top of the egg, passed downward through the wood fire, and was sucked out the bottom, which was connected to the chimney through pipes running under the floor. This design caused almost total combustion of the wood, which most stoves cannot do, and the pipes under the floor warmed the floor, which was pleasant and efficient. The problem was that the system had to be warmed gradually in order to get the necessary draft or suction sufficient to avoid smoking up the whole house.

Ben claimed that the servants were too stupid to manage it. He was reluctant to say that maybe his design was just too cumbersome.

Here are some Franklin quotes: (Most of these were first published in Poor Richard’s Almanac, which Franklin produced.)

A little neglect may breed great mischief… for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.

Necessity never made a good bargain.

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.

Little strokes, Fell great oaks.

Work as if you were to live a hundred years, Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.

A word to the wise is enough, and many words won’t fill a bushel.

To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.

Attributed to Ben Franklin:

* Franklin Stove

* Bifocal eyeglasses

* The discovery that lightning is electricity

* First public U.S. library

* First US Post Office

* Poor Richard’s Almanac

* Better street lights

* First pavement in America

* First crop insurance

* First playing cards made in America

* First willow trees planted in America

* First public hospital

* Discovery and charting of ocean currents

* Acquisition of funds to win independence for America

* Invention of artificial fertilizer

Ben Franklin was responsible for the first paved street in America, and the first department of sanitation, and the first taxes to pay for sanitation.

Ben Franklin organized the first circulating library. This club was called the Junto.

The first man-made oil slick on the ocean was created by – you guessed it – in approximately 1750. Ben was attempting to calm stormy seas for easier ships’ passage by spreading oil on the ocean. The experiment didn’t work.

Franklin was the first postmaster to put the post office into a profitable position. He was the first elected Postmaster General. He was paid one thousand dollars per year, which he donated to charity.

Ben Franklin, along with a friend, Thomas Bond, started the first hospital in America.

When Ben Franklin saw a rotten, sprouting willow basket in a stream he took it home and planted it, starting the first willow tree in America.

When plans were required for a new house of government, Ben Franklin was given a crack at the architect’s job, but his design was rejected. It was just too offbeat. He had planned to hook all the seats in the meeting room to the fireplace chimney. The bottoms of the seats would have many small holes. The draft from the chimney would create a slight suction at these holes in the seats, carrying away what he called “personal odors.”

Ben Franklin created a musical instrument he called the harmonica. It was horizontal shaft with glass bell-shaped objects mounted on it. The shaft was turned by a foot pedal, like a treadle sewing machine. Ben would dip his fingers in water and then rub the glass bells, causing a wonderful ringing tone. He became quite practiced at this machine and gave occasional concerts.

Ben Franklin noticed that many printers, plumbers, painters and potters were getting sick the same way. He then looked for a common habit among them and found that they all handled lead. He was the first to identify industrial lead poisoning.

Ben Franklin’s eyesight was diminishing as his age advanced. He had to carry two pairs of glasses, one for seeing close and the other for distant viewing. Ben had a lens maker modify his two pairs of glasses, putting parts of both sets of lenses in one set of frames, creating the world’s first bifocals. One of the reasons he was so famous in his own time were these glasses. Photography had not yet been invented, artists’ drawings in the newspapers were the only way people had of being recognized. But Ben Franklin was very obvious with his glasses in a time when very few people wore any glasses at all, and none wore bifocals.

Ben Franklin was one of the first people to realize that the common cold is contagious from one person to another. In that time viruses were unknown, but at least Franklin refuted the notion that getting your body cold was the cause.

Ben Franklin discovered the ocean currents. When on ships he would take sightings and temperature readings and eventually made valuable charts to help ships’ captains plot more efficient courses.

One of the few things Ben Franklin didn’t invent was street lights, but he did improve them. Until he thought of a better idea, they always had round globes. His improvement was to use four separate flat panes of glass. This way, if one was broken, only one inexpensive pane had to be replaced, not the whole globe. Some gas lamps of this design are still in use today.

He also didn’t come up with the idea of volunteer fire fighters, but did organize the fire fighters in Philadelphia into the best outfit in the world.

On the Choice of a Mistress

by Ben Franklin

[he recommends choosing an older, not necessarily pretty wife]

1. Because they have more Knowledge of the world, and their Minds are better stored with Observations; their Conversation is more improving, and more lastingly agreeable.

2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of utility. They learn to do a thousand Services, small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of children, which irregularly procured may be attended with much inconvenience.

4. Because through more Experience they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your reputation; and with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclined to excuse an old Woman, who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his manners by her good Councils, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.

5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part. The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower parts continuing to the last as plump as ever; so that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old one from a young one. And as in the Dark all Cats are gray, the Pleasure of Corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal and frequently superior; every Knack being by Practice capable of improvement.

6. Because the sin is less. The Debouching of a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her Life unhappy.

7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend making an old Woman happy.

8th & lastly. They are so grateful!!!”

This was Ben Franklin’s own epitaph:

“The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and striped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author”


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