Ben Franklin was a man of vision. In the 1700's, he looked for ways to help others, and today millions of people still benefit from his ideas.
Ben was the 15th in a family of 17 children. At the age of 12 he became an apprentice, working in his older brother's print shop. This was the beginning of a life of writing articles and books. He even became a newspaper publisher in later years. Ben loved to read and devoured book after book, believing "the doors of wisdom are never shut."
He was a man of many talents, and science was another area in which he excelled. The famous kite experiment is one example of his work. To prove that lightning is electricity, he flew a kite outside during a thunderstorm. Sure enough, lightning hit the kite, traveled down the string, and made sparks fly from a key he had attached to the end of the string.
Ben Franklin used this experiment for one of his many inventions, the lightning rod. A simple metal rod is attached to a roof to attract lightning. When lightning hits the metal, it travels down the rod into the ground instead of setting the building on fire.
Franklin also invented bifocal glasses to help people see better, and he designed a stove that saved fuel and provided better heat. He discovered that poor ventilation causes disease to flourish, and he later established the first city hospital in America. In Philadelphia he also established the police department, the fire department, a public library, and a university. In addition, he was the founder of the United States Postal Service.
Perhaps the best service he provided to future generations was by signing both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. At various times he served as a U.S. delegate to England and France, and the people of Philadelphia sent him to represent them at the Second Continental Congress.
Benjamin Franklin spent much of his life trying to make the world a better place. In recognition of his many accomplishments, his image has appeared on U.S. stamps, coins, and paper money. The name of Benjamin Franklin will always be listed as one of the greats in American history.