Benjamin Franklin Inventions, Quotes, Fun Facts | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Benjamin Franklin: Inventions, Quotes, and Fun Facts

Benjamin Franklin National Portrait

Benjamin Franklin, c. 1785, by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725-1802), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Photo Credit
Library of Congress

The father of the modern almanac

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Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. During his life, he was the most famous American in the world. Not only was Franklin a world-renowned statesman, inventor, and scientist, but also he was fascinated by agriculture and is considered the father of the modern almanac. 

Who Was Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, a British colony at that time. His father came to the Colonies from England in 1682. He was a candle and soap maker in Boston.

Before becoming involved in politics, Franklin learned the printing trade in Boston and eventually set up his own printing shop in Philadelphia. Later, he served as postmaster of Philadelphia and became the first postmaster general of the United States in 1775.

Politically, Benjamin Franklin was an admired statesman and thinker. He was an excellent representative of the emerging United States, representing colonial interests in England from 1757 to 1775. After he returned, he was unanimously elected to represent Pennsylvania at the Second Continental Congress.

He is the only person who signed all four of the documents that helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776); the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778); the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1782); and the Constitution (1787). In fact, he helped to write parts of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin is considered the father of the modern American almanac.

Father of the Modern Almanac

Benjamin Franklin’s portrait is on the front of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, as we honor Ben as the father of the modern almanac. He was known for his sound moral teaching and unsurpassed wit and wisdom.

His best-known work is Poor Richard’s Almanack, a yearly publication published in the American colonies from 1732 to 1758 under the pseudonym Richard Saunders. Though there were many almanacs at the time, Franklin’s almanac was a best-seller.

In recognition of this, the portrait of Benjamin Franklin was added to the cover of The Old Farmer’s Almanac in 1851, appearing opposite the portrait of founder Robert B. Thomas. It has remained there ever since. 

Artist: Benjamin West. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

10 Fun Facts About Franklin

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Benjamin Franklin was a fascinating person. Did you know…

  1. Benjamin Franklin was one of 17 children! He was the youngest son.
  2. When he was a schoolboy, Ben wanted to be a sailor despite his father’s disapproval.
  3. Yes, Benjamin Franklin did eventually marry! His wife, Deborah, is buried next to him in the cemetery of Christ Church, Philadelphia.
  4. Ben had three children and eight grandchildren.
  5. As a “natural philosopher” (which is what scientists were called in his day), Franklin also studied botany, chemistry, physics, and other sciences. 
  6. Yes, Ben Franklin DID fly an electric kite, showing lightning was a form of electricity. (And, no, he did not get electrocuted!)
  7. While he didn’t invent electricity, Ben Franklin’s experiments on electricity became the foundation of many inventions, such as electricity, batteries, incandescent light bulbs, electromagnetic fields, generators, transformers, and much more!
  8. He is celebrated for many more inventions, including the wood-burning stove, odometer, bifocal eyeglasses, and swim fins. Ben loved to swim!
  9. Benjamin Franklin has been honored in 14 different halls of fame.
  10. Benjamin Franklin’s face is on the front of the $100 bill.
Benjamin’s engraved face on the $100 bill was based on the Duplessis portrait above.

Quotes from Ben Franklin

Here are some words of wisdom by the great statesman and humorist.

  • “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
  • “Make haste slowly.”
  • “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”
  • “He that teaches himself hath a fool for a master.”
  • “An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.”
  • “Think of these things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.”
  • “Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments.”
  • “None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault or acknowledge himself in an error.”
  • “The discontented man finds no easy chair.”

What else have you heard about Benjamin Franklin? Let us know in the comments below.

Learn more about the life and times of Almanac founder Robert B. Thomas!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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