5 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Benjamin Franklin

On June 10, 1752, Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm to demonstrate the connection between lightning and electricity. A brilliant inventor, publisher, politician, and ambassador, the founding father wore many different hats in his lifetime. Here are 5 amazing things about the man on the $100 bill.


He Never Patented Any Of His Inventions Despite being a prolific inventor, he never patented an invention. Franklin could have received monetary credit for all of the remarkable ideas of his lifetime, and yet he never sought a patent for any of his inventions. According to PBS, it was against his belief system. Franklin quipped, "As we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own... freely and gladly." A few of his amazing inventions include the lightning rod, bifocals, swim fins, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions.

His Son Was a Supporter of The British Along with the two children he had with his wife, Deborah Read, Franklin also fathered an illegitimate son named William around 1730. The two were once close friends and partners—William helped Franklin with his famous kite experiment—but they later had a major falling out over the American Revolution. Willian was a Tory who strongly supported Great Britain. William Franklin ultimately ended up in a colonial prison for being against the war for independence and later moved to England. The two never spoke again.


He Created The First Volunteer Fire Department In The U.S. Franklin did a lot to help others, including creating the first volunteer fire department in the United States. He believed that fire prevention methods needed improvement and even published many articles about the subject for the Pennsylvania Gazette. As a result, in 1736, the Union Fire Company was created and was even playfully dubbed as Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade.

He Was The Only Founding Father To Sign All Four Documents The US Used To Gain Independence It's no secret that Benjamin Franklin is one of the country's founding fathers, but he was the only one to sign all four documents used to gain independence from Britain: the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the US Constitution in 1787.To top that off, Franklin was also the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence, having added his "John Hancock" at the age of 70.

Franklin Is a Member of The Hall of Fame For Swimmers Franklin's love of swimming started when he was a child growing up in Boston.  A set of hand paddles was one of his first inventions, which he used to travel on the Charles River. A friend even noticed his swimming skills in the 1720s and proposed that Franklin open a swimming school. He did not, but he remained an outspoken advocate for children learning to swim. He later received an honorary induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

He Only Received Two Years Of Schooling, But Had Honorary Degrees From Harvard, Yale, And Oxford Franklin only had two years of formal education, which he received while attending Boston Latin School. He eventually left school to help his family make soap and candles, after which he joined his brother James as an indentured apprentice at a printing shop when he was 12 years old. He had an apparent thirst for knowledge and spent his meager wages on books, sometimes even forgoing meals in order to purchase them. Because of this, Franklin became recognized as an author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, activist, statesman, and diplomat. And in nearly all cases he was self-taught. Franklin was one of the co-founders of the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, the College of William and Mary, the University of St. Andrews, and Oxford.