Benjamin Franklin: Inventing America
Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia with little more than three loaves of bread under his arm. But this son of a soapmaker went on to lead perhaps the most extraordinary life of any American. With only two years of grammar school education, Franklin became, among other things, a printer, publisher, postmaster, philosopher, scientist, inventor, statesman, musician, and abolitionist. Franklin's achievements were many and varied. As a loyal and inspired patriot, Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming at its signing that "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." His Poor Richard's Almanac was a bestseller and the source of innumerable aphorisms, such as "Time is money" and "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," which still are frequently quoted nearly 300 years later. Franklin's curiosity about the world around him led to his experiments with lightning and his invention of the lightning rod. Never idle, he spent his voyages across the Atlantic mapping the Gulf Stream, ensuring sailors faster transatlantic crossings. He also introducing the idea of paved streets to relieve the dust and mud in Philadelphia and organized the country's first volunteer fire companies. Franklin dreamed up the efficient Franklin stove, bifocals, and daylight savings time--all still in use today. In this engaging biography, historian Edwin Gaustad chronicles the life story and many accomplishments of this fascinating and entertaining man, this exemplary citizen of a new country, the United States.
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