Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.
As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as a writer and spokesmen in London for several colonies, then as the first American ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation.
Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin, "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.
"Many men die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five."
"Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbor, will feel a pleasure in the reverse. And those who despair to rise in distinction by their virtues, are happy if others can be depressed to a level of themselves."