17 July 2011

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: & Selections from His Other Writings (Modern Library)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, & Selections from His Other Writings (Modern Library)What do you know of Benjamin Franklin? You are probably aware that he was a well known statesman, influential in America's founding. You are probably also aware of an experiment he did with a kite and a key. In fact, he is lucky he survived it!

He was born the fifteenth child of twenty. His father was married twice and had ten children born to each marriage. Benjamin was the youngest son of the family. He only had two years of formal education; most of his education was self imposed. At age twelve he was apprenticed to an older brother who owned a printing shop. His most famous pen-name, Silence Dogood, was created in an attempt to see his letters to his brother's newspaper published, for his brother would not allow him to write for the paper! He "became" Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow, at the tender age of sixteen.

Some things you may not have known about him are that he was also: a writer; journalist;  printer; publisher; philosopher; patriot and (oldest) signer of the Declaration of Independence; diplomat; arbiter; humorist, and quite a ladies' man. He was: a proponent for and one of the first to suggest the first true fire department whereof men would be assigned to a particular fire engine rather than goodwill and amateurs continuing to be the force with which fire was fought. Being an entrepreneur he also established the first fire insurance company! He proposed that the firefighters would practice and share information and that their skills at fighting fires would therefore improve. Franklin urged the licensing of chimney sweeps and proposed that homeowners should be required to keep leather fire-fighting buckets at their property.   

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