Step aside, Iron Man, Batman, Captain America, and Superman, Philadelphia’s favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin, was truly the original superhero. Here’s a rundown of his most superhuman accomplishments.
1. He Was the Original Aquaman
Benjamin Franklin was known to have been an avid swimmer throughout his life and an early advocate for the benefits of the sport. As a result of this passion, which Franklin developed early in his life, he invented swim fins when he was just 11 years old; they are regarded as being his earliest invention.
2. He Could Control Lightning
For colonial Americans, the threat of massive urban fires was very real thanks to the unpredictable and then mysterious meteorological phenomenon known as lightning. Lightning could, without warning, cause an entire village to erupt in fire until Franklin introduced the lightning rod, a simple device that directed the electrically charged lightning to the ground and prevented many fires as a result.
3. He Had Alter Egos
At several times in Franklin’s life, he wrote under pseudonyms. The most well known are Silence Dogood, a middle-age woman whose letters were published in Franklin’s own brother’s newspaper, and Poor Richard, a wise old man whose name graced the title of Franklin’s annual Poor Richard’s Almanack from 1732 to 1758.
4. He Was a Journalist When He Wasn’t Saving the World
Franklin undertook many different professions throughout his life, including periods as the first postmaster general of the United States and as one of the foremost American diplomats abroad in France and Britain. However, through his entire life, Franklin’s primary profession was as a printer. He bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, an important 18th-century publication from Philadelphia, in 1729 and was a regular contributor to its pages.
5. He Could Conjure a Storm
On his numerous ocean voyages between Europe and North America, Franklin began to notice a pattern with the prevailing weather patterns. Eventually, his research would lead to our modern understanding of the Gulf Stream, a prevailing ocean current that affects the weather on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
6. He Knew the Importance of a Good Costume
While in America, Franklin was the consummate urbanite. When he was sent to Paris to advocate for the fledgling United States at the French court, he took to wearing a fur hat iconic of the rugged frontier mentality that the French courtiers believed their American counterparts universally espoused. In large part because of Franklin’s charm, the French ultimately supported the American cause, leading to an eventual victory for the United States in the Revolutionary War.
7. He Was Dedicated to Saving Lives
In the 1750s, as urban populations in the New World began to rise, Franklin helped to found the first hospital in what would become the United States. Pennsylvania Hospital still exists and operates today in Philadelphia.
8. He Changed the World with The Power of His Pen
It’s important to note that Franklin was directly involved in many of the most important pieces of political writing of his time.He was directly involved with editing the Declaration of Independence, was a trusted voice at the Constitutional Convention, which led to the United States Constitution, and was integral to writing the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the Revolutionary War.
9. He Could Control Fire
Benjamin Franklin had numerous impacts upon the city of Philadelphia throughout his lifetime and was involved in the establishment of many important civic institutions. The Union Fire Company, one of the first organized firefighting groups in the world and the first in Philadelphia, was established by him in 1736.
10. He's the Gift that Keeps on Giving
While Franklin is well-known for his scientific accomplishments, he also was quite a successful businessman (although certainly not a billionaire). Upon his death in 1790, he left a large amount of his fortune to the cities of Boston, where he was born, and Philadelphia to be distributed over the subsequent two centuries. A reasonable portion of that money has gone on to support organizations including The Franklin Institute.
All illustrations were created and drawn by Rick Adams.