On April 17, 1790, the son of a poor candle-maker died. The 15th of 17 children, he apprenticed as a printer and published a popular almanac. He retired at age 42, then taught himself five languages, invented the rocking chair, a stove, bifocal glasses, and the lighting rod, which earned him degrees from Harvard and Yale. He helped found the University of Pennsylvania, a hospital, America’s first postal system and fire department.
His name was Ben Franklin.
Franklin wrote May 9, 1731: “There seems to me … to be great occasion for raising a United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body. … Whoever attempts this aright, and is well qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God and of meeting with success.”
When France and Spain were raiding the American colonies, Ben Franklin raised Pennsylvania’s first volunteer militia and