Talk:Benjamin Franklin/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3


Why is this article protected? The writing needs significant improvement, but no one is able to work on it.

Apparently, there have been problems with vandalism in the past. You can establish yourself as a registered Wikipedian, or if you're just suggesting something minor, copy or detail the changes you want to make onto this page. Be sure to cite whenever possible. MMetro 16:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Didn't you know? All American tax-evading rebels - sorry, I mean founding fathers - are sacrosanct Gods! Oh say can you seeeee... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:42, 18 November 2008 (UTC)


should his epitaph be included?

A Printer's Epitaph (1728) The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author. He was born Jan. 6, 1706. Died 17-

Soyseñorsnibbles 00:57, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Ben's Irascible Nature

This article could be improved by a discussion of Ben's private nature, where he had quite the reputation for bawdiness. While some of his more "civil" quotes are here, what is missing are things like his discourse on the virtues of having sex with older women: ...because they are so thankful!. And certainly he had shewd advice for today's times, in that when one is faced with tyranny, one should respond to the tyrants with no uncertain terms: FART PROUDLY! Weyandt 17:33, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Already mentioned he was an inventor. The sentence "Franklin was interested in science and technology, carrying out his famous electricity experiments and inventing—in addition to the lightning rod—the Franklin stove, catheter, swimfins, glass harmonica, and bifocals."is unnecessary. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:16, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Franklin the Spy

Surely Franklin's activities as a British Spy ought to be mentioned somewhere in the article, such as his passing on information about sailing dates and supplies going from France to the US? 11:32, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Hellfire Club

Would it be valid to mention Franklin's connection to the Hellfire Club? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:56, 19 March 2007 (UTC).

I think so. He met with Dashwood several times for support for the colonists. 11:59, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
As long as it is properly sourced, it is appropriate. This article should encompass all aspects of the man, including the ones he may have wanted kept secret or been embarrassing. --Darth Borehd 23:16, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Colonial Scrip

Please include something in this article about Ben Franklin's role in creating Colonial Scrip, which was the Colonial Currency until British Parliament outlawed it in 1764. Franklin had a hand in creating Pennsylvania's version currency in 1723 by publishing pamphlets advocating the adopting of government-issued paper money as a way of facilitating trade. Franklin wrote in his autobiography

The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident as never afterwards to be much disputed[1]

In 1764, Franklin traveled to London to represent the Colonies and explained to the British Board of Trade the benefits of this currency and how it contributed to the Colonies' prosperity. As a result, its use was outlawed in the Colonies by Parliament, probably in the interests of the British bankers who controlled the volume of gold and silver coins and did not want their control over the economy threatened. Outlawing the circulating medium caused a depression and Franklin actually beleived this to be a much greater cause for the Revolution than the Tax on tea or stamps.

Read this 1941 radio address by Congressman Charles G. Binderup describing this in further detail:


Does it have to appear twice?


There was an in-article question: "how did he die??" by Jonbollo33. Can anyone add this information to the article? Scraimer 05:59, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Benjamin Franklin

He invented the lightning rod, the "Franklin Stove", the odometer, and a Gulf Stream Map. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 00:14, 27 April 2007 (UTC).

This article says that Franklin invented the catheter, but the article about the catheter says that it was invented by the Greeks.Ian Glenn 19:35, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Franklin invented the lightning rod. True. In the don't-try-this-at-home category, Franklin showed that it is possible to drive lightning's electrical charge into the ground when he carried out his famous kite experiment. Franklin was safely ensconced in a shed when he attracted lightning with a key tied to a kite. He watched the lightning raise the hairs on the hemp kite string as it traveled downward into the Earth. LeMay said Franklin couldn’t resist reaching out to touch the hemp and, as you’d expect, he got a slight shock.

It might be a bit heretical, but when history throws up major polymaths like da Vinci, Newton and Franklin, people generally overstate their achievements. Most inventors famous for one particular invention also invented a whole lot of, well, crap that in most cases was a less-than-popular modification of an already-existing invention; but for people with romantic life-stories, things are different. Franklin is adored by all patriotic Americans because of his role in founding their country, and so historians have scraped the bottom of the barrel to popularise his most minor inventions. He did NOT invent the odometer - that's been around since the year dot - he just came up with his own model. He did NOT, like many obscenely ignorant people believe, 'invent electricity', whatever that means. He did not discover it. He was not even the first to 'harness' it - seventeenth century Italy would have hassles with that. He did not invent the catheter - he came up with his own model. He invented his own kind of stove. He was a rather eccentric and brilliant tinkerer who every so often came up with new 'inventions', like sicking two existing kinds of spectacles together, or a wooden bookshelf implement, or. It's like going on about Charles Babbage and the cowcatcher, dynamometer, and the ophthalmoscope. (He invented AN ophthalmoscope - but not THE ophthalmoscope.) He could play music, therefore he must be a 'great' musician - I'm sure he drew a house at some point. He must be an architect. Benjamin Franklin is a great name for three reasons, and any more would be pushing it: he discovered the conservation of charge, he invented the lightning rod, and he helped found the United States, constitution et al. P.S. Though he wasn't to know, and though his understanding was an advance, it is the chagrin of physicists and electrical engineers worldwide that he named positive and negative the way he did - it is now the standard convention, but the discovery of the electron and all related work show that things would be much less confusing and more convenient if plus charge were minus and vice versa. (Electrons are negative, so electricity travels forwards is just electrons travelling backwards.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:43, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect Trivia?

Hey, I notice that in the trivia section (which technically shouldn't be there and such, but man I love trivia!) it mentions that Mr. Franklin was not allowed to work too much on the Constitution for fear he would include too many jokes. However, many other Web pages I've seen state that it was the Declaration of Independence as the document in question. Perhaps the person who added it made a slight mix-up while typing? It could in fact be the Constitution, and all the other sites are incorrect, but since it's unsourced, I think I should leave it to you local experts to decide. Just figured there might be a lot of reports being written with some false trivia in it! Taugosz 03:25, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Seems unlikely it would be the Constitution. It would be difficult to work jokes into a document of that nature, whereas the Declaration of Independence would offer ample opportunity to a man of Franklin's wit. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:45, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
In the popular culture section it fails to mention him as an evolved human in the Heroes universe (with the power of electrical energy absorption and release). Saturday, April 26, 2008 6:11 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:12, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Could someone please enact a mass purge of all 'popular culture' sections in Wikipedia? If I see another serious article with 20 lines devoted to Star Trek and Simpsons references I will throw up. Cheers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:46, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Length of Introduction

The introductory paragraphs are much too long and contain too much extraneous information; it should be shortened a little and the information switched to other sections. Metsfanmax 20:24, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Discovery of Gulf Stream is missing

BF discovered and even named the Gulf Stream. This is totally lacking from this article and should be added. Will someone please investigate and update this article? Thank you. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling 03:46, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Franklin was the first to predict that major storms traveled across several states and could be tracked. False, but his theory that storms and hurricanes moved up from the south, although the winds in the storms blew from the northeast, is regarded as the genesis of scientific weather forecasting.
Yes, I agree. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling 12:31, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Counterfeiting should be expanded

BF's anticounterfeiting efforts are with us to this day but appear in this article as a quick phrase in "Public Life." That's nice, but it should be expanded and added to the existing Inventions/Discovery section. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling 03:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

BF environmentalism should be added

BF was very much an environmentalist. He designed his stove to reduce wood usage. He wrote his friends to determine noreasters were really weather patterns coming out of the west. A cool and cloudy summer he correctly surmised was due to a volcano in Iceland 6 months earlier. He discovered the Gulf Stream. He invented the lightening rod to prevent the destruction of buildings. Etc., etc. Someone please look into this and update the article. I heard this on "Ben Franklin Tech on Modern Marvels." --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling 03:55, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Environmentalism is a movement that post-dates Franklin by at least 100 years. His stove was designed to concentrate home heat in a particular area of a room and prevent fires, not to reduce wood usage. He already had an interest in science, which includes meteorology. The lightning rod was designed to prevent building fires as a result of lightning. He was not an environmentalist in the 21st Century version of the term. Equinox137 (talk) 03:45, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

ben franklin was not a vegetarian

Ben was a vegetarian. False. Evidence suggests young Franklin was adverse to killing animals for food. He also figured vegetables cost less than meat, so he could spend more of his earnings on books. His diet wasn’t completely meat and fish free, though.

According to his autobiography, he shifted back and forth on the issue. After reading a book stating how a "vegetable diet" (the term he used) was beneficial, he decided to follow such eating habits until one day he saw a fish that had been caught which had other fish inside its stomach. After that, he said he occasionally held a "vegetable" diet. VincentValentine29 18:59, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

ben franklin was way cool!

LeMay sums up Franklin this way: “He tried hard, and he meant to do good. He wanted to improve himself, others and the world he lived in.”

Latin language interwiki

Please add [[la:Beniaminus Franklin]]. Thanks. 03:27, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

adest. --Nlu (talk) 18:09, 1 December 2007 (UTC)


Although Benjamin Franklin did ultimately have 13 virtues, he originally only came up with the first 12. Says Walter Isaacson in his biography, "A Quaker friend 'kindly' informed him that he hand left something off: Franklin was often guilty of 'pride,' the friend said...So Franklin added 'humility' to be the thirteenth virtue on his list." B.F. was by nature a very proud man, later in life showing off his list of virtues to his friends, so it should come as no surprise that he "forgot" to include humility on his list! May want to put a mention of this in the virtues section!

Also it may be pertinent to include some evidence that B.F. was not really a "family man"--during his extensive time spent in Britain and France, he adopted "surrogate families," with whom he socialized more easily and seemed to care more about. He spent 15 of the last 17 years of his wife's life away from home, and was not with her when she died. Also, although he missed both of his children's weddings, he made sure not to miss the wedding of Polly Stevenson, a member of his English "surrogate family."

Franklin on Immigration and Nordic Racial Superiority

I noticed this in the Wikipedia article on the Nordic theory of Racial Superiority:

Benjamin Franklin proposed a clear distinction between "white" Europeans and "swarthy" Europeans, stating that immigration to the newly-born United States should favor the "white" Saxons and Englishmen rather than the "swarthy" Germans (except for the German Saxons), Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes. See link below. Franklin believed the white Europeans to be more "lovely", at least to his taste. Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc

Should this be included in this article? -- 15:29, 29 July 2007 (UTC)


Read the quote completely, and you will see that the tenor is very different. The suggestion that Swedes were swarthy was likely made to make fun of those who, not knowing where Sweden was, would pronounce on the Swedes' inferiority upon hearing they were swarthy. Franklin was the satirist of his day and was known to employ satire in his attacks on the slave trade.

"The Colonial War Against Islam," by Andrew Walden, FrontPageMagazine, 1/5/2007,{A6EBD0E7-C3FF-4D27-94B6-282C1174D2D8} "On the Slave-Trade," To the Editor of the Federal Gazette, March 23d, 1790, /s/ Historicus,

If you read the "Peopling of Countries" essay in its entirety, you see that Franklin is saying that we should preserve the English culture from Germanization and also protect the native White and Red races from being darkened by the importation of slaves. The only mention of anyone being superior is that of some "Inhabitants in Mars or Venus" who might remark on the lightening of the continent by deforestation followed by its darkening with slaves. Franklin appealed to an innate preference for one's own complexion to argue for abolishing the slave trade just as others did in arguing for maintaining it.--JoeFriday 00:01, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

"Franklin Award" of the frozen food industry

I've looked far and wide on google for any mention of a yearly Franklin Award given by the frozen food industry. The two frozen food industry organizations I found American Frozen Food Industry and National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association make no mention of such an award. I've removed the statement. Akriasas 21:44, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

General Misquotations

Hello everybody, what do you think of including a section commenting on a few of the most common spurious sayings and quotations attributed to B.F. and clarifing them there? I saw that something like that was mentioned just above. I happen to know of two alleged quotations by B.F. on Jews and Catholics which have been proven to be fakes, and another one about a comment on Paine's "Age of Reason". What are your opinions, would that make sense? Cheers, Trigaranus 13:11, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Franklin Benjamin Richards

It is note worthy to mention that the prodigious son of reed richards and susan richards is named franklin benjamin richards as a homage to the original ben franklin. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:39, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Quality of writing

While the article contains a lot of information, it's hard not to question the accuracy of it due to the less-than-authoritative tone the writing quality imparts. For example:

When denied the option to write to the paper, Franklin invented the pseudonym of 'Mrs. Silence Dogood' who was ostensibly a middle-aged widow. The letters were published in the paper and became a subject of conversation around town.

The leap from creating a pseudonym to sending letters to the paper under the guise of the pseudonym is implied, leading to a poor flow and a jarring experience for the attentive reader. Another example:

The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library because of its 500,000 rare books, pamphlets, and broadsides, more than 160,000 manuscripts, and 75,000 graphic items.

Use of the word "because" may be technically allowable, but it's also jarring because there is no need to justify the statement that the library a great one. "The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library containing 500,000 rare books..." would be a more appropriate way to impart the information.

I don't have the time or interest to go in and start cleaning this stuff up, but I do hope someone who shares my opinion that this reads like a very good research paper by a sixth grader does have the time to do it. Franklin deserves better representation than this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

External Link Video Add

I would like to add a video dedicated to the life and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin as explained by Prof. Philip Krider of University of Arizona. The link is (this does not automatically open the video). Please let me know what you think. --ResearchChannel 03:51, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


Someone needs to include in how Benjamin Franklin was into vegetarianism, and was a vegetarian for the most part of his young life?. Sources: [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] --Sugarcubez 08:54, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Someone (not me) has created such a paragraph, but the 2 references cited seem to contradict each other on whether or not he was in fact a vegetarian. clariosophic 01:31, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe it's best to reference that various historical sources disagree on the possibility that he was a vegitarian. Once source used to claim that ( in fact stated the opposite:
  • Ben was a vegetarian. False. Evidence suggests young Franklin was adverse to killing animals for food. He also figured vegetables cost less than meat, so he could spend more of his earnings on books. His diet wasn’t completely meat and fish free, though. Equinox137 (talk) 05:13, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
On (link: he's referred to as a vegetarian... but I believe Equinox137 is correct; I remember reading somewhere else that he was a flexitarian.

1337wesm (talk) 22:26, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

benjamin franklin

Is Benjamin Franklin a patriot loyalist or british? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

"As a political writer and activist he, more than anyone, invented the idea of an American nation" - "more than anyone" is just plain bothersome. sure, his is one of the more important roles, but to decide that franklin played the most important role in the development of the idea of america is not very encyclopaedic.

Bold text BEN FRANKLIN WAS A WEIRDO! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:51, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Was Poor Richard's Almanac published in England?

The article states "He spent many years in England and published the famous Poor Richard's Almanac and the Pennsylvania Gazette." I always thought the almanac and gazette were published in Philadelphia. Some clarification might be in order. Chris the speller 03:06, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

When did his apprenticeship end?

Two apparently conflicting sentences:

"In 1718, at the age of 12, Benjamin Franklin began in apprentice service to his half-brother, James, in the printing business and continued until he was twenty-one."

"At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city."

Was James right behind him? ;-) Perhaps someone can resolve this. Chris the speller 03:12, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Banjamin Franklin invented swim paddles?

Just starting a new article - paddles (swimming). I found some sources that suggest that Benjamin Franklin invented the swimming paddle and fins. I think it's true because I've found two sites to do with it and also a couple of books - take a look at this and this paragraph 8. Thanks Fattyjwoods (talk) 01:26, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

It doesn't mention anything about Boston being part of Britain during the early 1700's

Why doesn't it mention that during the early 1700's Boston was part of Britain and that the United States does not exist during the time of hs birth that could be valuable information —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:44, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Boston is not a part of Britain and never has been. The British Isles are a part of the continent of Europe, on the east side of the Atlantic Ocean, and Boston, Massachusetts, is on the continent of North America, on the west side of the the Atlantic Ocean.
If you wish to refer to where Franklin was born, it is questionable whether he was born in the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, and Wales, because that that established in 1706. In any case, all 13 of the well-known American Colonies belonged to the British or English Kingdom during the lifetime of Franklin, until the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the subsequent Revolutionary War, ending with the Treaty of Paris of 1783 which recognized the independence of the 13 colonies and the establishement of the United States of America. The British Empire was not established until later on. (talk) 08:29, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Start of the article

Maybe just me, but "Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790)" make the date of birth look awfully gaudy. How about just a note, that references the differences between Old and New styles. It sure doesn't look encycledia like. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jamesklyne (talkcontribs) 07:38, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't know - it seems a reasonable way to abbreviate the widespread and inconsistent notes that already exist (or the repeated edit reversions according to taste, whether to use old/new style). Tedickey (talk) 15:08, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Typo: "God" missing?

Section on "Virtue, religion...", paragraph beginning "At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when the convention seemed headed for disaster due to a vitoral debate, the elderly Franklin displayed his conviction that was intimately involved in human affairs..." Seems to need "God" before "intimately". I class this as a non-minor edit, because Franklin is said to be major deist, but IMHO the best definition of "deist" is someone who believes that God is *not* involved in human affairs.

KWRegan (talk) 02:26, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Aaron Dolan 4 tits —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:02, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

To further this point, the end of the quote about Jesus states "I see no harm in its being believed, if that belief has the good Consequence, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Unbelievers in his Government of the world with any peculiar Marks of his Displeasure." In Ben Franklin's letters to Ezra Stiles, Franklin explicitly states something that sounds like a shift away from outright deism "Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good to his other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them."--maybe just clarifying further that his religious views changed later in life would quell some debates about whether or not Franklin's deist beliefs were as non-Christian as some are led to believe by this page.

First Sentence

The first sentence of the page says that Benjamin Franklin was one of the most important and influental founding fathers. it should be changed to influential. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:47, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Done. Next time you find a mistake, have a try a fixing it yourself. You don't need anyone's approval as long a you edit with a sincere intent to improve the article. It's actually fun once you get the hang of it. ike9898 (talk) 18:03, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
I don't see any reason why so many people should be so lazy as to refuse to capitalize letters, such as in the name "Benjamin Franklin". Don't they also realize that in not capitalizing proper nouns, they are pushing English to look like Chinese or something? We have a language that has long-established and useful features that ought to be stubbornly defended, and the capitalization of proper nouns is one of them. Are you too lazy to use the shift key? That is what it was put there on the keyboard for - don't be an Ignoramus. (talk) 08:36, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Death and legacy section question

It was very interesting to read about the money Franklin put in trust for 200 years. However, the lead section of this paragraph reads, "Franklin bequeathed £1,000 (about $4,400 at the time) ... ", and this statement is referenced to an article from 1993. It seems that this statement is probably significantly out of date. We need someone to recalculate the equivalent of £1,000 in 1790 with $ in 2008. Do you know how to do this? ike9898 (talk) 18:00, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Pennies on grave

I am interested in the tradition of tossing pennies on Franklin's grave. Can anyone add any info regarding this to article? ike9898 (talk) 18:13, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Sovereignty of the people

Franklin wrote, "In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns." As a powerful, prominent and ultimately successful advocate of the concept, ought we not to be explaining Franklin's significant contribution to the development of popular sovereignty at his biog article? --Mais oui! (talk) 08:44, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Franklin and Pennsylvania Milita

In 1748 Franklin helped raise the "Associators of Philadelphia" and was elected to the rank of Colonel-which he had to decline; Pennsylvania Records show that on 26 Oct 1786 "Franklin, B. Esqure {His Excelleny}" was issued a Certificate # 12,883 for 1 Pd 5 shillings and 7 pence! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:03, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Area of Birth

I was wondering, was Ben Franklin really born on Milk street or is that just someone who edited the page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:11, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

It's easy to find reliable sources which say this (bear in mind that talk pages are not a reliable source) Tedickey (talk) 11:07, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

13 Virtues typo

Tranquility is misspelled with 2 'l's instead of one. Unless this was intentional... Sarinae (talk) 23:31, 19 March 2008 (UTC)sarinae

Golly - don't you know that the past tense of "have" is "had"? Also, you tend to write English like Chinese, with no verb tenses, no plurals on nouns, and no possessives on nouns. Also, commas and periods always need spaces after them. Furthermore, writing in All Caps is like SHOUTING at people and is positively rude. Maybe the all caps is your way to make it look more Chinese. This is an English language section of the Wikipedia, so if you can't deal with English properly - go somewhere else. (talk) 08:46, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Firesign Theatre

I'd like to place the following in the Popular Culture section:

Benjamin Franklin appears in several of the skits of the celebrated radio theatre group Firesign Theatre, which has labeled him "The only President of the United States who was NEVER President of the United States."Coffeehog (talk) 23:48, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Adding more items to the popular culture section is not appropriate. That section is way to long as it is. Please see WP:Trivia for more info on trivia sections. The items in that section need to be worked into the prose of the article if appropriate or removed completely if not. Jons63 (talk) 12:09, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Like most of the trivia sections, a small fraction of the material is generally useful, but most should simply be deleted. Tedickey (talk) 12:19, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

OS dating is incorrect

The Opening sentence: "Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1706] – April 17, 1790) ..." shows the Old Style date as January 6, 1706 but the Julian calendar used in the colonies started the new year on March 25; therefore his birth date in the old style should read, January 06, 1705 because the year 1706 didn't begin until March 25, some two and a half months after he was born. —Preceding unsigned comment added by AWatts649 (talkcontribs) 03:05, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

That is just a triviality, even if it is true, and confusing to boot! Why bother with it? (talk) 08:48, 18 October 2008 (UTC)


To be comprehensive, this article should probably mention Ben Franklin's use of laudanum late in life to alleviate the pain of kidney stones.[7] He likely became addicted to opium as a result.—RJH (talk) 16:00, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

What is the role that Father Abraham plays?

What is the role that Father Abraham plays? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:57, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Distant Husband

I tried adding under the Deborah Read section that his wife wrote him in 1769 blaming her illness on their separation, but my edits were removed. Even though I provided a link to the History Channel program where this is said. (talk) 19:08, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Common-law relationship

The article at present states "Franklin established a common-law marriage with Deborah Read on 1 September 1730." This seems improbably precise; I doubt that anything in particular happened on that date, as a common-law relationship is established when a single man and single woman living together for some period of time with the intent of being husband and wife rather than by ceremony. (It's also not clear that a common-law marriage can be established if one already has a living certainly can't in most jurisdictions. I think this "common-law" thing may be a convenient lie told to school children to avoid the mentioning that Franklin was "living in sin".) In any case, we need some sort of citation for this date. - Nunh-huh 01:27, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I whole-heartedly agree - "common law" marriages are not established in a certain precise date, not like ceremonial marriages are. There is also the open question of what happened to Deborah's orginal husband. Perhaps since he had vanished, he was declared to be dead by some court. The where and when of that is well worth mentioning, and it surely should be part of the public records of court judgements. (talk) 08:53, 18 October 2008 (UTC)


Is the portrait by Benjamin Wilson in 1759 the oldest known image of Franklin? It'd be nice to get an older one if one exists. Kingturtle (talk) 15:52, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

"The Frenchman"

I wonder why Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour is referred to as "The Frenchman" two times after his name is stated. It is true he mocked Poor Richard's Almanac, but is it only me or referring to him as to the "Frenchman" has a slightly mocking tone to it? Maxolius (talk) 02:32, 29 September 2008 (UTC)


"The city of Philadelphia contains around 5,000 likenesses of Benjamin Franklin, about half of which are located on the University of Pennsylvania campus."

When I first read that, I thought it to be a joke--the part about half of them being located on the university campus. Does that need to be included? Is it even true? Are there that many likenesses of him on the campus? I just found it odd that that was included. It seemed trivial and I thought perhaps it was a tongue in cheek thing. Killiondude (talk) 07:02, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Franklin the Physicist

The fact that Franklin was a physicist (re: his researches and discoveries in electricity) needs to be mentioned much earlier in the article, in the list of his many occupations. I'm an electical engineer, and Franklin's work is described as being pivotal in the study of electrictity. Electrical engineering did not exist until well after his lifetime, and so, he was a member of the predecessor of the field - a physicist. That is a much more suitable term than merely "scientist", as is there now. Franklin also received an honorary doctorate in physics from an English university - back when honorary doctorates ment much more that they came to mean in the 20th Century and continuing to today.
Franklin originated the practice of labeling the two "poles" of an electical device with a "+" sign and a "-" sign - and to make any progress in the study of electricity, that is an absolutely necessary step - even if you do it backwards, as Franklin was later shown to have done. Let me repeat myself: it is necessary to make an assumption about the "+" sign and the "-" sign. Even if the assumption is backwards, then the mathematics will work out to show that it is backwards.
Franklin thought that in an electric current, positive charges flowed from the "+" terminal to the "-" terminal, but as we have found out later, it is actually negative charges that flow from the "-" terminal to the "+" terminal. The best and original way of detecting it is by using the Hall effect, and electical phenomenon that was discovered by another American, Edwin Hall of Maryland - at the Johns Hopkins University. (talk) 09:08, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

When was the term physicist first used? It is usually better to refer to someone and something with a term used during their lifetime. Although he may have done all of the things that you have mentioned, (I'll take your word for it), was physicist a term commonly used during his lifetime? If yes, then go ahead and make the edit. If no, then I would be for leaving it the way it is.--Jojhutton (talk) 13:07, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

religion section accuracy

The religion section seems unfocused. Quotes and attitudes from various periods in Franklin's life are jumbled together, giving no clear picture of anything. It seems to me that arranging the section chronologically would show a clear progression from his Presbyterian upbringing, through his deist beliefs, to his decidedly anti-christian attitude of later years. I won't have time to make such a revision myself for a couple of months; perhaps another editor will.

Since many of his religious quotes (and those of his contemporaries) sound half-hearted, the section might also reference the illegality and social stigma associated with atheism and the propensity for atheists to profess themselves deists to avoid same. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thebiggnome (talkcontribs) 23:42, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Charles I

Being of a certain religious bent, I would agree that Charles I persecuted Protestants. Hwever, in an objective historical sense, that statement is stupid. He was against Puritans, but he would have considered himself a Protestant. He may have married a Catholic, and his grandmother may have been Mary Queen of Scots, but when his father James I wanted to ascend the English throne at the end of the Tudor dynasty he was prudent enough to convert. Charles I was widely suspected of Catholic leanings, but he was a Protestant and head of the Church of England. This section should read "persecution of Puritans".


A colleague of mine likes to quote that Benjamin Franklin is responsible for "The best decision is no decision". I cannot find any articles that attribute the quote to him, including this page, and would like confirmation either for or against if anyone can provide a source. (talk) 16:50, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

His Wikiquote entry is the place to look. That quote isn't on the page (or at least the word "decision" doesn't appear on the page). I doubt that he said it. Misattribution of quotes to highly quotable people like Franklin is incredibly common. -- BenRG (talk) 22:23, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

I think there is a typing error

In 1.1 Ancestory it says

"Josiah Franklin had seventeen children by his two wives. His first wife was Anne Child, whom he married about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated to Boston with in 1683; they had three children before immigrating, and four after. After her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689 in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin's fifteenth child and tenth and last son."

Where it says

"whom he married about 1677"

It should read "whom he married in about 1677 in Ecton, and later immigrated to Boston with in 1683."


"whom he married in about 1677 in Ecton. Which he later immigrated to Boston with in 1683." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eddie.simones (talkcontribs) 03:51, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Ben's Oxford honorary degree ... +ve and -ve

The article (and a few others on the internet) says that when Ben Franklin arrived back in England in 1756 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and that:

"At Oxford University Franklin was awarded an honorary doctorate for his scientific accomplishments and from then on went by "Doctor Franklin."

I can't find any independent sources of the claim that Oxford gave him an honorary degree, and I suspect that this is a confusion with a later Honorary Degree awarded by St Andrews in Scotland. My reference says:

"1759 February 12: University of St. Andrews Scotland awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws to Franklin in absentia; Franklin was subsequently referred to as Dr. Franklin. "

I would also challenge the claim that Franklin invented the +ve and -ve concepts used in electricity, and that he invented the flat-glass battery.

Both of these ideas came from William Watson and John Bevis in England. John Bevis made the first multi-cell 'battery' stack using 'tin' sheeting and window glass, These were actually condensors or capacitors -- like flat versions of the Leyden Jar which Watson and Bevis had radically improved by lining the inside and outside with metal (The Abbe Nollet and others had used water inside, and the cupped hand outside).

Members of Franklin's group (mainly Kinnersley and Franklin) were constantly in correspondence with Watson/Bevis, and they happily exchanged information.

Ben Franklin and his group contributed a lot to understanding how the Leyden Jar and flat condensor worked, but the single-fluid idea which gradually evolved, was a collaborative effort of a half-dozen people in Britain and America. Also, it was no more" correct" in its original form than the two-fluid ideas of DuFay in France. What we have today is an amalgam of the single- and two-fluid ideas, but where we differ from both is that we now think of electrons as an integral component of the matter being electrified ... not as a single-or-double fluid entity which is permiating the electrifiable matter.

Also, when you think of electricity as an extraneous "fluid", and you believe that there is only one fluid, not two -- then automatically you have, what amounts to the concept of the "conservation of energy" (except that they didn't have the concept of "energy'). ie. If I take a cup of water out of a bowl, then it is obvious to me that the amount in the cup exactly equals the amount lost from the bowl. This is not an earth-shattering conceptual leap. The giant leap is in developing the concept of "energy" (as distinct from fluids) - and that this can have -ve and +ve forms.

A lot of the credit paid to Franklin was due to the fact that he was a first-class journalist and explainer of ideas. So his name became attached to the collaborative ideas formulated by his group in America, with the work done in Britain. Franklin was also starved for recognition in scientific circles (whereas Watson and Bevis had plenty), so he was keen to be published and be recognised.

Many American histories of Franklin claim that Watson was a "competitor" of Franklin - and portray their electrical research as a fiercely-fought race between the colonials and the English aristocrats, with one side or the other "winning". But in fact they were all happy collaborators until the outbreak of the War of Independence. It is very likely, in fact, that they continued to exchange information via Masonic channels during the war.

Many of the Royal Society's "Honest Whigs" were tacit supporters of the colonialists (and also Masons), but I don't know whether Watson and Bevis fell into this category or not. For Joseph Banks and Franklin (in Paris), we know that this scientific exchange of information extended through the war years.