Tomorrow is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, who, as the Firesign Theatre put it, was “the only president of the United States, who was never president of the United States.” Born in 1706, he invented the Franklin stove, bifocals, and with his (illegitimate) son, discovered that lightening was electricity. His son probably thought it only appropriate that when Ben was busy as one of the “founding fathers,” the son became the Royal Governor of the State of Pennsylvania. Next time you think of electrocuting one of your children—even if they are adult, as Ben’s son was—think twice. It might come back to haunt you.
As a printer, he expressed ideas—much as a modern blogger (ahem) might do, through his newspaper, The Philadelphia Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanac.
Ben was the governor of Pennsylvania, US Minister (Ambassador) to France and later Sweden, created the public lending library, and by virtue of being an effective postmaster for Philadelphia under the crown, he became America’s first postmaster general.
While early in his life he had owned slaves, by the 1750s he had become a firm and outspoken abolitionist.
And, yes, he was quite the ladies’ man, which, we must assume would entail attitudes, if not activities, that would not be tolerated today. However, for what it’s worth, I like to think that this means that society has advanced in the last 250 years and will continue to advance. If old Ben were half the genius we believe and lived today, he would be a proud proponent of that advancement.