Massachusetts State Inventor
Adopted on November 16, 2006
On November 16, 2006, Benjamin Franklin became the official inventor of the Commonwealth.
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706. Best known for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he also had several famous inventions.
As a scientist, Franklin was a brilliant physicist and is responsible for the lightning rod which led to electricity, bifocals, the Franklin Stove
(fireplace), and the odometer. Franklin only attended school until was 10 years old, then began working at the age of 12, and left Boston for Philadelphia
when he was 17. Although he did much of his work in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was said to always be proud of his roots.
Benjamin Franklin FRS (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] - April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and in many ways
was "the First American". A world-renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, 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. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove,
among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university.
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as an author and spokesman
in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational
in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical 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 a 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."
Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies.
With two partners he published the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British
policies. He became wealthy publishing Poor Richard's Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin was also the printer of books for the Moravians
of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1742 on). Franklin's printed Moravian books (printed in German) are preserved, and can be viewed, at the Moravian Archives
located in Bethlehem. Franklin visited Bethlehem many times and stayed at the Moravian Sun Inn.
He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. Franklin
became a national hero in America when as agent for several colonies he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament in London repeal the unpopular Stamp
Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive
Franco-American relations. His efforts to secure support for the American Revolution by shipments of crucial munitions proved vital for the American
For many years he was the British postmaster for the colonies, which enabled him to set up the first national communications network. He was active
in community affairs, colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania.
Toward the end of his life, he freed his own slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.
His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin
honored on coinage and the $100 bill; warships, the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies, and, more than
two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.
The law designating Benjamin Franklin as the official Massachusetts state inventer is found in the General Laws of Massachusetts, Part 1, Title
1, Chapter 2, Section 56
PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
TITLE I JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH, THE GENERAL COURT, STATUTES AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS
CHAPTER 2 ARMS, GREAT SEAL AND OTHER EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH
Section 56 Inventor of the commonwealth
Section 56. Benjamin Franklin shall be the official inventor of the commonwealth.
represent things that are special to a particular state.
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