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(Boston, 1706 - Philadelphia, 1790) Politician, scientist and American inventor. Student of electricity and what attracted your interest, inventor of the lightning rod and other useful artifacts, honest and efficient public man and leading architect of the independence of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was perhaps the most beloved character of his time in his country and the only American from the British colonial period who achieved fame and notoriety in Europe.
Benjamin Franklin (portrait of David Martin, 1767)
The experiment of the kite (B. West oil)
Only from the admiration, it is possible to approaching their figure, and at the same time, it is hard to imagine Franklin without experiencing a feeling of warmth. His appearance was so simple, his personality was so nice and your sense of humor sprang so spontaneously that for people it was easy to love it and respect it. Large grey eyes and a prone mouth to smile adorned the face of this paragon of virtues, which was able to Excel in many fields was proposed.
"The will, talent, genius and grace met in it, as if nature to shape you had been wasteful and happy", said one of his biographers. Apart from these gifts, Franklin always firmly believed that it was possible to change the negative aspects of the character through a discipline at the same time soft and steady. In his youth he always carried with him a list of qualities worthy of admiration, which later became a little book where every page was devoted to a virtue. Franklin devoted a week of attention to each one of them, reread when I had time, and returned to start when it came to the end.
15th brother from a total of seventeen, Benjamin Franklin studied only elementary, who left at the age of ten years; vast encyclopedic erudition which would exhibit at maturity was the result of an insatiable curiosity and a self-taught effort that compaginaría always with his professional activities. At the age of twelve he began to work as a printer at a company owned by John Franklin, one of his brothers.
In 1723, after a dispute with his brother, he fled to Philadelphia, where, without a penny in his pocket, he found work in a typeface. After having played for two years the same activity in England, where it had been sent with recommendations without any value, returned to Philadelphia and worked on his own as a typographer and editor. In 1727 it was responsible for the issuance of paper money in the British colonies of America. He later founded the Pennsylvania Gazettenewspaper, which published between 1728 and 1748, and in 1732 he undertook the edition of poor Richard's Almanac (1732-1757).
With the publication of the Almanac, a type of miscellaneous Yearbook frequent at the time which included Saints, horoscopes, health tips, and weather forecast, was opened in his life a period of prosperity. The own Franklin serving as editor, Publisher and editor, although it attributed the authorship of a fictitious character who would end up being famous: such as Richard Saunders, from where comes the title of poor Richard's Almanac.
The that Richard is a provincial "Yankee" old variable humor, a rustic philosopher with the tips and edges of misoginismo, who, with great despair of his wife Bridget, passed the time among dusty books and calculations of astrological rather than earn money to support his family; He decides to edit the Almanac, precisely, to be able to reconcile their hobbies with this need.
Along with the usual sections, Franklin had the good sense to include also all sorts of maxims, proverbs, sentences and quips, extracted from various sources; Sometimes, applying his genius and experience to human behavior, did invent them he, with so much success that ended up going to the popular heritage. After twenty-five years of uninterrupted publication, with print runs reached ten thousand copies (an impressive figure for the era), Benjamin Franklin had a considerable heritage that allowed him to leave the impression.
The era of more intense political activity of Benjamin Franklin started in 1757, after that long stage as a printer. Most importantly it was his task as inspiring and active factotum of independence. The original idea of a few United States as a single nation can be attributed and not as a group of separate colonies, since two decades before the war of American independence he conceived of a system of State Governments gathered under a single federal authority.
Previously, already become one of the most important public figures in Philadelphia, he was elected member of the Legislative Assembly; led to a successful conclusion the Treaty with the rebel Indians, found a rational system for the cleaning of streets and promoted many initiatives and improvements. Active and versatile temperament would boost it to participate in local matters, for example, in the creation of institutions such as the fire brigade of Philadelphia, the public library and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the American philosophical society. As general manager of post in Philadelphia, first importance of multiple public officials who play with brilliant efficiency, Franklin achieved a series of successes, dazzling in the improvement of the service, expanded considerably the frequency of shipments and improved postal roads.
When in 1757, he was sent to London to defend the interests of the American colonies to the metropolis, Benjamin Franklin started an intense political work that would bear the desired fruit. On one famous occasion he was throughout the day in the House of Commons, with great skill to answer questions that the members of so honorable institution around the strength of the colonies directed you to very hated English tax law, which was harmful to the interests of the American colonists. The result was that Parliament repealed the Act (1766) and the war was delayed ten years, giving separatists enough time to prepare.
Benjamin Franklin (portrait of David Martin, 1767)
Before the new fiscal and political pressures exerted by the metropolis, Benjamin Franklin left London; He returned to Philadelphia in 1775 and resolutely adhered to the independence movement. That same year he was appointed Deputy by Pennsylvania in the second Continental Congress, where representatives of the thirteen American colonies, decided to form an army to fight against England. The following year drafted, together with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the historic Declaration of independence (1776).
Because of its prestige, was chosen him in December of that year for a tour of Europe (1776-1785) in search of support for the independence cause. It was essential to get the help of France, without which the conflict could extend indefinitely and even lost. George Washington had handed over to a U.S. Army organization, but the metropolis had all the power, weapons and important allies. It was necessary to counter that power by getting the help of France. Franklin not only convinced the reluctant French monarch, Luis XVI, that secretly sent supplies to general Washington, but one year later (1778) managed to come openly in the war as an ally after signing a Treaty of friendship.
After the war, and achieved effective independence, Benjamin Franklin was participant in the talks to conclude a peace treaty that would end the conflict (1783). After returning to Philadelphia, he became a member of the Convention responsible for drafting the United States Constitution (1787). Franklin got in addition to solve a problem that threatened to seriously hinder the formation of the new country: small States wanted to have identical representation in Congress than the larger and, at the same time, they claimed that the number of delegates elected according to each State's population.
Franklin met difficulty accepting the first proposal as a basis for the Senate and the second for the House of representatives; then, when the Constitution was ready, dealt with personally that it was ratified by States, task that had to put all his skills of persuasion and razonador master capabilities: none of its partners resisted their arguments. Back in Philadelphia, already old and tired, and with the hope of a well-earned rest, it was immediately overwhelmed by new public responsibilities, leading once again conducted with its perfect and admirable style the missions entrusted.
The interest of Benjamin Franklin by scientific subjects began in the middle of the century and coincided approximately with that period of intense political activity. During a stay in France, in 1752, conducted the famous experiment of the Comet, which allowed him to show that clouds are charged for electricity and that, therefore, rays are essentially electric discharges.
For the realization of the experiment, not without risk, it used a kite that is equipped with a metal wire attached to a silk thread which, according to his fancy, was charged with the power absorbed by the wire. During the storm approached the hand wrench which hung silk thread, and noted that, in experiments with bottles of Leyden had done before, jumping Sparks, which showed the presence of electricity.
The experiment of the kite (B. West oil)
This discovery enabled him to invent the lightning rod, whose effectiveness resulted in that in 1782, in the city of Philadelphia, 400 of these mills had installed. His works about electricity led him to formulate concepts such as the electricity negative and positive (from the observation of the behavior of the rods of Amber) or the electrical conductor, among others. She has exhibited in addition a theory about the electricity that it considered that this was a subtle fluid that could present an excess or defect, discovered the power of metal probes to observe a body with electric charge will download much faster if it ends in punta, and enunciated the principle of conservation of electric charge.
Benjamin Franklin also invented called stove Franklin (1742), a range of iron increased efficiency and lower consumption, and bifocal lenses. The great curiosity that felt by natural phenomena induced him to study, among others, the course of the storms that form in the American continent, and was the first to analyze the warm current that runs through the North Atlantic and that nowadays is known with the name of the Gulf stream.
Musician and instrumentalist expert, also wrote about the problems of musical composition, in particular on those relating to the adaptation of the music to the letter so that the latter could be intelligible. A detailed account of his findings would be endless and exhausting, as their creative ability and sense of anticipation were absolutely extraordinary.
Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84. He had remained active almost all his life; only two years earlier had decided to withdraw from public life and complete his autobiography (initiated to 1771), which would see the light posthumously. One of the reasons that led him to the longevity was his profound knowledge of health issues. It was long walks he had occasion, was an example of moderation on the table and, against many prejudices accepted by his contemporaries, had habits that were unusual for the American middle, as usual, considered extravagant and pernicious, sleeping with the windows open wide.