[ frăngklĭn ]
Benjamin 1706-1790

American public official, scientist, inventor, and writer who fully established the distinction between negative and positive electricity, proved that lightning and electricity are identical, and suggested that buildings could be protected by lightning conductors. He also invented bifocal glasses, established the direction of the prevailing storm track in North America and determined the existence of the Gulf Stream.



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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for franklin, benjamin

Franklin, Benjamin

A patriot, diplomat, author, printer, scientist, and inventor in the eighteenth century; one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an important early researcher in electricity and proposed the modern model of electrical current (see also current). He also demonstrated that lightning was electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm and allowing it to be struck by lightning. Franklin used this discovery to invent the lightning rod. He produced other inventions as well, such as bifocal eyeglasses and the efficient Franklin stove. Particularly notable among his writings are The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richard's Almanack. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and negotiated with France and Britain on behalf of the newly formed government of the United States. Toward the end of his life, he took part in the Constitutional Convention.

notes for Franklin, Benjamin

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin warned his fellow patriots that their venture, if unsuccessful, could lead to their execution for treason: “We must all hang together, or we shall surely all hang separately.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.