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Permanent Gallery

Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library and the first fire department. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as a writer and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, earned him status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers.

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