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Massachusetts State Inventor

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

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.

Massachusetts State Inventor: Benjamin Franklin

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 war effort.

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.

Massachusetts Law

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.

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