Happy THREE HUNDRED FOURth Birthday Anniversary, Benjamin Franklin! (1706-1790)
Colorado Springs — Sunday, January 17, 2010 is the 304th birthday anniversary of international superstar Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of America, inventor of bifocal glasses (he was frustrated due to the constant switching of eyeglasses during French meals, he could either see his food, or the person's face in conversation, and hit upon the idea that no one up until that time had ever considered, combining two pairs of glasses into one), and one of the strongest, wisest voices for real liberty.
Perhaps best known for flying a kite in the rain or lurking laconically on the $100 bill, but for breadth and depth of all-encompassing genius Benjamin Franklin should more logically be remembered on lists with the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Arouet de Voltaire, Plato and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Benjamin Franklin is arguably the most universally beloved American of all time, even more than two hundred years after his death, and perhaps the most successful self-made man in all of history.
A polymath — a Renaissance Man in the most pure definition of the term — Franklin not only dabbled in an outrageous variety of pursuits and endeavors, but his achievements are amazing to this day, especially when all of history is surveyed.
Not only did Franklin have an interest in poetry, satire, diplomacy, invention, scientific investigation, but he applied his mind to these things, asked questions his contemporaries would never think of asking, and employed his imagination in developing theories which would have delighted Einstein.
In living similitude, Franklin once walked alongside a large, slow-moving whirlwind, snapping his leather whip into its core, experimentally attempting to break the volition of the miniature tornado. Other men with him watched with puzzled whimsy, shaking their heads in disbelief. Franklin saw things and wondered about them. He got up close and personally studied things that other men would only invest a glance. This could be documented as the first recorded instance of storm chasing, and Franklin only gave up his investigation when dangerous debris began to fall about him.
This was Benjamin Franklin.
Where other men might wonder, Franklin would study, examine, investigate, experiment — and all these things most hungrily. He was insatiable.
Benjamin Franklin was ravenous for wisdom.
Franklin wondered about lightning. He formulated theories. He performed dangerous experiments, and ultimately developed the lightning rod — which was known and referred to as a "Franklin rod" for many years after his death — and he did not seek a patent, or wealth in relation to this futuristic invention. He freely offered up his knowledge for the public good, and while away in France his home in America was struck by lightning, with his invention successfully protecting the building from damage (the strike had been so powerful that the iron tip of the rod was melted).
At an early age, without the benefit of formal education (beyond two years of grammar school), Ben Franklin became a prolific reader, began to think his own thoughts, and put into practice what he formulated in those orginal thoughts.
He became a vegetarian and commented on the fact that thinking was more prolific without the corruption of meat (by his own exercise of thought, Franklin discerned facts that science is only just now beginning to prove conclusively); however, he slowly began to move away from this self-started vegetarianism when he whimsically observed that a beautiful, large fish had much smaller fish in its belly, and reasoned that if the fish could eat smaller versions of itself, he could in good faith eat the fish!
In later life Franklin developed a taste for salted beef, but humorously attributed most of his increasing health problems — including gout and a constant "itchy back" — to his predilection for unhealthy meat.
“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” - Benjamin Franklin
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, 70 years of age when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, could anachronistically be termed the first international superstar, as kings and queens requested his audience (or gritted their teeth in fury at his witty, biting satires), and both Beethoven and Mozart composed music for Franklin's armonica:
Franklin's new invention premiered in early 1762, played by Marianne Davies—a well known musician in London who learned to play Franklin's new invention. Initially Franklin named it the 'glassychord', but soon settled on 'armonica' as the name for his new invention—after the Italian word for harmony "armonia". Apparently Franklin built a second instrument for Ms. Davies, as she toured Europe with hers, while Franklin returned to Philadelphia with his own.
The armonica made quite a hit, particularly in Germany. Mozart was introduced to it by Franz Mesmer, who used his to 'mesmerize' his patients, and later Mozart wrote two works for it (a solo armonica piece, and a larger quintet for armonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello). Beethoven also wrote a little piece for amonica and narrator, and many of their colleagues of the day composed for it as well—some 200 pieces for armonica (solo, or with other instruments) survive from that era. - The Glass Armonica
At his death, at 84 years of age on April 17, 1790, Benjamin Franklin was one of the wealthiest Americans, establishing a trust fund which is still in gainful operation to this day. Many of his maxims and "improved" proverbs are common to this day.
Franklin was funny (children of all nations adored him), witty (the greatest minds and personalities of the day constantly quoted his words), benevolent (he was one of the earliest and strongest voices against slavery in America), and a celebrated flirt (he certainly flirted with women, and especially young women, all over the world, but there is no evidence that he actually consummated any of these flirtations after his common-law marriage to Deborah Read).
Benjamin Franklin is certainly the best example of what a person can accomplish, apart from the pretense of birth, wealth and education, and the way a person should be, all their life long, always curious, always learning, always improving.
Benjamin Franklin is the eternal poster child for hard work, ingenuity, health, wealth and wisdom.
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
- Benjamin Franklin