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In the News: Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin made the news in Scholastic News Edition 4 on November 14, 2005
By Alexandra Cale

Benjamin Franklin
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Duplessis, Joseph Siffred; Author, statesman, scientist, diplomat, c. 1785. Oil on canvas.
(Photo: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / Art Resource, NY)
Benjamin Franklin was truly what we call a "jack-of-all-trades." Although best known for his experiments with electricity, Franklin was a scientist, a politician, and almost everything in between.

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the tenth and youngest of his father's sons. When he was 12, Franklin worked as an apprentice, or someone who learns a trade by working with a skilled person. He worked in his older brother James's printing shops.

He secretly started publishing his own writing under the false name of Silence Dogood. James was not pleased when he found out the author was Ben, instead of the middle-aged widow he thought it was. Ben quit his apprenticeship and set out for Philadelphia.

In 1732, Franklin began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack, where most of his famous quotations can be found. Many of these, such as "A penny saved is a penny earned," remain popular today.

Franklin is known as a Founding Father. This means that he was part of the group of men who founded our nation. He was a member of the Continental Congress and he was also the oldest person to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Electricity and weather were especially interesting to Franklin. He proved that lightning is electricity by capturing sparks from a cloud while flying a kite in a storm.

Franklin was also an abolitionist, or someone who worked to end slavery. He did own several slaves, however, and he never freed them. In fact, he built his wealth on selling a newspaper that advertised slaves.

As Ben says, "If you would not be forgotten when you are dead and rotten, either write things worthy of reading, or do things worth the writing."

His theory seems to work, because Ben followed both pieces of his own advice, and we still remember him centuries later!