In Puritan times, to be born on a Sunday was interpreted as a sign of great sin. Puritans believed that children born on the Sabbath Day were conceived on this sacred day. Sexual intercourse on Sundays was a sacrilege in this austere society. As a result, Benjamin Franklin's birth on Sunday, January 6, 1706, had the potential to cause the young Franklin ignominious shame for life. To remove suspicion and eschew the scandal of having a "child of the Devil", Josiah, Benjamin's father, had Franklin quickly baptized on the same day of his birth.
During Benjamin's childhood, he could remember a time when there were thirteen siblings at the dinner table. In fact, the difference in years between Josiah Franklin's eldest and youngest children was an entire generation.
As a young lad, Benjamin Franklin wrote his name in a fancy manner. However, once a venerable old man saw the pompous signature and replied, "What fool's name is this?" After that incident, Benjamin autographed in a plain and efficient style.
Having already seen one son leave to serve on a ship, Josiah sought to discourage Benjamin's inclination for the sea, getting him apprenticed to his brother instead.
Inspired by his namesake uncle Benjamin, young Ben composed historical ballads (one was about the pirate Blackbeard) that were printed by his brother James in his fledgling print shop. The poems sold well.
Benjamin attributed his love of independence to the many years he spent as an apprentice to his autocratic brother James. Franklin wrote that his brother's "harsh and tyrannical treatment of me might be a means of impressing me with that aversion to arbitrary power that has stuck to me through my whole life."
When Benjamin was sixteen, he experimented
with vegetarianism in order to save money to buy more books.
When Benjamin Franklin first arrived in Philadelphia, he had nothing but a Dutch shilling and three cents to his name. In many respects, he had severed his ties with his family back in Boston.
While working in a print shop during his first voyage to England, Franklin consumed large amounts of water, even though his European counterparts primarily drank beer. Thus, Franklin earned the nickname, "Water American."
During the American Revolution, Benjamin's own illegitimate son, William, refused to join the patriotic rebellion against royal authority. The elder Franklin had in fact used his influence to make his son royal governor of New Jersey in 1767. However, William was unwilling to repay his father's generosity. "Nothing ever affected me with such keen sensations," Benjamin later wrote.
At the age of 70, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.
John Paul Jones, who became the premier American naval hero by raiding British merchant and military ships, named his vessel Bonhomme Richard -- French for "Poor Richard" -- in honor of Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack.
Jean Antoine Houdon, the legendary French sculptor, created a bust of Benjamin Franklin in 1778. The sculpture was so realistic and won such acclaim that Benjamin invited Houdon to come to the United States and execute a similar bust of George Washington.
At the Constitutional Convention, Franklin, by now 81, was once again the most senior delegate. In fact, the wise Philadelphian, suffering from so many ailments, was often transported to the meetings by means of a sedan chair, the burden of which was supported by the sturdy shoulders of four convicts.
In the 1780's, part of Wrentham, Massachusetts split off from Wrentham. As was common, this group of rural Massachusetts farmers used their church as the cultural, social, religous and governmental center of the town. Unfortunately, they had no bell in the church. There was no way to summon the farmers for services, or for emergencies such as fire. As a result, they came up with a clever plan. They named their new town "Franklin", and wrote a letter to Benjamin Franklin asking him to donate a bell. However, Dr. Franklin was not so inclined. "Sense being preferable to sound," Dr. Franklin sent the good farmers a crate of books instead, and suggested they start a library. They did. It's still operating. It is the oldest public library in the United States. You can get more info at: