50 Interesting Facts About Benjamin Franklin

Last updated on June 3rd, 2023

38. Chess

Franklin began playing chess in his 20s. He loved it so much that he wrote an essay on the game. As a diplomat, he frequently visited London and Paris coffee houses to find strong opponents to raise his playing standard.

39. Language Learning

Franklin and his friend used chess as a tool to learn Italian. After each game, the winner could assign a task to the loser, like studying specific vocabulary or grammar rules.

40. Phonetic Alphabet

Franklin wanted to reform the spelling of the English language. He proposed the removal of the letters C, J, W, Q, X, and Y. In their place, he added new vowels and consonants.

Random facts about Benjamin Franklin

Facade of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Facts about Benjamin Franklin
Facade of the Library Company of Philadelphia located in the Historic District of Philadelphia, Pa. Facts about Benjamin Franklin. Photo © Garcef

41. Spreading Ideas

Franklin formed a discussion group called Junto. Since books were expensive, the members combined their collections to create a library. It later became the Library Company of Philadelphia — a research institution that still exists today.

42. Gone Too Soon

Benjamin Franklin lost his son Francis when the latter was barely four. His wife prevented early inoculation for smallpox out of fear. It may have caused the couple to drift apart.

43. The Prodigal Son

William Franklin was loyal to the British Crown. During the American Revolutionary War, his relationship with his father deteriorated as they found themselves on opposing sides. He fled to London and never returned to North America.

44. Franklin as a Mason

In 1730, Franklin entered the local Masonic lodge. He rose to the top as its grand master only four years later, reflecting his rising prominence in Pennsylvania. He remained a Freemason for the rest of his years.

45. A Novel Cooking Method

Franklin was unhappy about the lack of practical applications for his experiments. He proposed a dinner party with turkey slain via electric shock before roasting on an electrical spit. His trials resulted in uncommonly tender meat.

46. No Patents

Benjamin Franklin did not patent his inventions. He saw it as a way of giving back after enjoying the works of others. He was also a wealthy man, so he did not need to profit from them.

47. Safety Precautions

Many depictions of the kite experiment are inaccurate. Franklin was not running around in an open field. He stood on an insulator and stayed dry under a roof to avoid electric shock. Others who tried to replicate his experiment failed to protect themselves and suffered from electrocution.

48. Unit of Measurement

The electrostatic unit of charge bears his name. One franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb. He joins other famous scientists to receive this honor, such as Isaac Newton, Alessandro Volta, and James Watt.

49. Education Reform

In the past, classes were in Latin, led by a single tutor for four years. Franklin and other educators created a new model. They used English, hired experts for each subject, and scraped religious tests when they opened their schools.

50. Honorary Degrees

Franklin was a dropout who accomplished much more than his educated peers. Recognizing this, Harvard and Yale awarded him with honorary master’s degrees, while Oxford gave him an honorary doctorate.

Benjamin Franklin – quick facts

Also Known AsRichard Saunders
Born17 January 1706, Milk Street, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died17 April 1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
ParentsJosiah Franklin, Abiah Folger
SpouseDeborah Read (m. 1730–1774)
ChildrenWilliam Franklin, Francis Folger Franklin, Sarah Franklin Bache
Resting placeChrist Church Burial Ground Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
EducationBoston Latin School
FoundedAmerican Philosophical Society
Awards And HonorsHall of Fame (1900) Copley Medal (1753)