Who was Benjamin Franklin? (1706-1790)


by James Still, RetraceOurSteps.com, ©2018

(Nov. 1, 2018) — Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706.  At the age of 12, he began an apprenticeship as a printer and later wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack.  Franklin helped establish the first Public Hospital and the first volunteer fire department in America.  He was also a founding member of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.  At the age of 70, he was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Franklin’s inventions included the Franklin Stove, Lightning Rod, Odometer, Glass Armonica, Bifocals and the Flexible Urinary Catheter. With the help of his cousin, Timothy Folger, Franklin was the first to name and plot the Gulf Stream.  Always the scientist, Franklin wrote about his encounter with a whirlwind.

“Being in Maryland, [and] riding with Colonel Tasker… we saw in the vale below us, a small whirlwind beginning in the road, and… moving up the hill towards us, and enlarging as it came forward. When it passed by us, its smaller part near the ground, appeared no bigger than a common barrel, but widening upwards, it seemed, at 40 or 50 feet high, to be 20 or 30 feet in diameter. The rest of the company stood looking after it, but my curiosity being stronger, I followed it…

As it is a common opinion that a shot, fired through a water-spout, will break it, I tried to break this little whirlwind by striking my whip frequently through it, but without any effect.  Soon after, it quitted the road and took into the woods, growing every moment larger and stronger…  and when I saw the trunks and bodies of large trees enveloped… [and having no effect on] the passing whirl… I no longer wondered that my whip had no effect on it in its smaller state.

I accompanied it about three quarters of a mile, till some limbs of dead trees, broken off by the whirl, flying about and falling near me, made me more apprehensive of danger; and then I stopped, looking at the top of it as it went on, which was visible, by means of the leaves contained in it, for a very great height above the trees.” Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Peter Collinson, August 25, 1755


Upon my asking Colonel Tasker if such whirlwinds were common in Maryland, he answered pleasantly, ‘No, not at all common; but we got this on purpose to treat Mr. Franklin.’ And a very high treat it was, too.”  Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Peter Collinson, August 25, 1755

4 Responses to "Who was Benjamin Franklin? (1706-1790)"

  1. Alfonsas Danys   Monday, November 5, 2018 at 11:36 AM

    In 1829, The Pennsylvania Historical Society reported on the “Society for Political Inquiries” a group of prominent Philadelphians brought together by Ben Franklin in February, 1787. They met monthly in Franklin’s home. It’s members are a Who’s Who of familiar names. Including signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    Ben Franklin,
    William Rawle,
    Thomas Paine,
    Francis Hopkinson,
    David Rittenhouse,
    Robert Morris,
    Benjamin Rush,
    Tench Coxe,
    James Wilson,
    John Armstrong, Jr.,
    Richard Bache,
    Charles Biddle,
    William Bingham,
    Robert Blackwell,
    John Bleakey,
    William Bradford,
    Edward Burd,
    Benjamin Chew,
    George Clymer,
    Nicholas Collin,
    Thomas Fitzsimons,
    George Fox,
    William T.Franklin,
    William Hamilton,
    Robert Hare,
    Henry Hill,
    Jared Ingersoll,
    William Jackson,
    John Jones,
    Adam Kuhn,
    Samuel Magaw,
    John F. Mifflin,
    Thomas Mifflin,
    Robert Milligan,
    Jacob Morgan,
    Gouverneur Morris,
    John Nixon,
    Timothy Pickering,
    Samuel Powel,
    Joseph Redman,
    Thomas Rushton,
    Arthur St. Clair,
    Edward Shippen,
    Edward Tilghman,
    Charles Vaughan,
    Samuel Vaughan,
    Jonathan Williams,
    Caspar Wistar.


  2. Marcella Backland   Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 2:47 PM

    Ben Franklin’s handwritten passport for William Rawle – May 8th, 1782.


  3. Robert Laity   Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 2:05 AM

    N_UN_S, Thanks ever so much for mentioning that. Franklin was, for a time, U.S. Ambassador to France. At the time of the U.S. Founding, French was the language of Diplomacy. Many of the founders spoke French. The term “Natural-Born Citizen” is defined, in French, in “Vattel’s Law of Nations”. It reads….”Les naturels,ou indigenes, sont ceux que sont, ne de le pays, de parents citoyens”….”Natural born citizens are those born in the a country of parents who are both Citizens”. This was what John Jay and the other founders meant and understood when they required our President and his/her VP to be a “Natural-Born Citizen”. This definition was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v Happersett, Shanks v. Dupont, The Venus and Wong Kim Ark. These four SCOTUS precedents still stand. The U.S. Supreme Court in recent history HAD two opportunities to revisit these cases in Laity v NY and Obama and Laity v NY, Cruz, Rubio and Jindal. They did NOT reopen the four prior rulings, effectively leaving them undisturbed, the four cases remain as established law.

  4. Nikita's_UN_Shoe   Friday, November 2, 2018 at 4:15 PM

    Source data for our Founding Fathers to author the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

    “Benjamin Franklin in 1775 thanks Charles Dumas of the Netherlands for sending him 3 more copies of the newest 1775 edition of Vattel’s Law of Nations.”

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