Benjamin Franklin: The Polymath
One of the founding fathers of the United States, inventor of many technologies, and founder of organizations that changed the entire world. Franklin was not afraid of politics, science, or change. Benjamin Franklin was the person who discovered the electricity, and experimented with it. He stopped studying when he was ten-years old then he became a self-taught student. Providing that, Benjamin Franklin was known for being a prodigy of many subjects, a polymath who at a very young age started his life at a fast pace.
Benjamin Franklin’s working life initiated very early, but even though he basically lacked of knowledge for some time of his life, his passion for reading was what gave him the knowledge that he used for the rest of his life. He kept working for some time until his father Josiah apprenticed him at the print shop run by his brother James Franklin. When he was fourteen years old, he already mastered the skills needed for that job, so when he showed that to his brother, James got angry, and whatever Benjamin wrote James refused to publish. As the time passed, Benjamin got tired of his brother’s harsh behavior. He then escaped, and started living in Philadelphia. After that, he became a bookkeeper, a shopkeeper, and later a publisher. By the time, he started to become popular around the 1730s. In the Biography website states, “Franklin amassed real estate and businesses and organized the volunteer Union Fire Company to counteract dangerous fire hazards in Philadelphia” (“Benjamin Franklin Biography”). Benjamin Franklin tried to solve a problem that may happen occasionally creating an organization to control the fire. This organization would later create a big impact in many civilian’s lives in future years. This was just the beginning of his prosperous life.
The next successful step that Benjamin took was when he wrote and published the essay called “Poor Richard’s Almanack” which ended being a fortune. Many copies were sold per year. The reason of its success was the wisdom he was sharing to the people via quotes and real-life decisions that can make people think about their future, Decisions that can bring them down and lose everything, and decisions/actions that can make them wealthy people. Just as the book states, “…preserve your freedom; and maintain your independency: be industrious and free; be frugal and free…. Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever while you live, expense is constant and certain…” (Smyth 447-448). This is a perfect example of what Benjamin’s essay was about. Even though they are fictional characters talking to each other, they are demonstrating real life lessons. It’s a life teaching story that tells the readers how to become wealthy, but not exactly how to get there. As a result of his love for reading, he also investigated books about recent science, and started projects, and observations about meteorology, demography, and oceanography. Experimented with the strange element of that period of time, electricity. Wikipedia states, “Franklin’s electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod” (“Benjamin Franklin”). A lightning rod was basically a conductor that directed a lightning to a ground rod through a wire, protecting buildings from burning or damaging them.
Another of his inventions happened to be when he started to get older. Like the vast majority of us, Franklin found that his visual perception was deteriorating as he got older, he got hyperopia, and myopia. Tired of changing between two sets of eyeglasses, he invented what we call now bifocals. He had the lenses from his two sets of glasses one for reading and the other to look around. cut down in half both pair of glasses and remade them into one pair that gave both functions without the necessity of switching glasses constantly. Moreover, when he went to London, he met for the first time what people called melodic glasses by which glasses were on a table, played by rubbing the rims with wet fingers. To tune them water had to be poured over them to acquire the correct notes. Franklin however thought could improve the experience of playing music with glasses. He organized the glasses for sizes and fixed them on an axle. The axle was determined to a case and turned by a wheel. He considered it the armonica and turned out to be exceptionally prevalent in its day. Mozart and Beethoven composed music on it after. Not only did Benjamin Franklin worked and invented specific instruments from the music area, but he also worked in the medical fields. The first catheter ever created was made out of hard metal. this was not truly comfortable to any patient and in extreme cases could be exceptionally agonizing. Benjamin Franklin’s brother John was exposed to this torment, so Benjamin chose to help him. He made a model that was definitely not as painful as the original one by making a thin, adaptable, and accessible tube. The tube could move as required to give the patient the less pain possible. Current doctors still utilize this tube that Franklin designed because of its high quality and mobility for its purpose.
In conclusion, Benjamin Franklin did not bear being a prodigy, but he reached being a polymath thanks to his passion for reading. A publisher, scientific, politic who changed the world with his mentality.
- Smyth, Albert. “The Way to Wealth.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th Ed. Eds: Robert S. Levine, et al. New York: WW Norton, 2017. 442-450
- “Benjamin Franklin Biography.” Biography, A&E Networks Television, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.biography.com/scholar/benjamin-franklin.
- “Benjamin Franklin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Nov. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin.
- Cagle, Kurt. “Benjamin Franklin, Polymath.” Medium, Medium, 2 May 2018, https://medium.com/@kurtcagle/benjamin-franklin-polymath-14bf90dd2d5d.