Monday, February 26, 2007

Franklin's Choice

Printer, publisher, author, diplomat, statesman, eminent scientist and inventor, Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) had the versatility of a Renaissance man. That he was born into a community barely past the pioneer stage - early 18th-century Boston, Massachusetts - and left school at the age of ten makes his achievements all the more remarkable. He invented bifocal spectacles. Franklin was awarded honorary degrees by European universities for his work, and became known as 'Dr Franklin'. In 1783 he and his colleagues negotiated the Treaty of Paris by which Britain accepted American independence.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird of the United States to be the Wild Turkey, rather than the Bald Eagle. In a 1784 letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin wrote that the Bald Eagle "is a bird of bad moral character." By contrast, he accepted that the Wild Turkey was "a little vain & silly," but still saw it as "a Bird of Courage."

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