Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This week, I chose as my subject not an invention, but an inventor — the extraordinary Benjamin Franklin. In December, 1776, Franklin travelled to Paris as the America's first ambassador to France. There, he circulated amongst the French aristocracy, cementing an alliance which would eventually help America win the Revolutionary War. Franklin was a much loved figure in France, so much so that a portrait of him could be found gracing many a French home. Biographer Claude-Ann Lopez writes that Franklin "was temperamentally suited for France. The streak of irreverence that ran through his entire life found a congenial reception in Paris, as did his love of laughter and desire to amuse. He did not shock the French, nor did his interest in women, which was considered perfectly normal." (Thanks to PBS for the quote)
To better tie it all in with this week's topic, here is Wikipedia's list of things invented by Franklin:
-the lightning rod
-the glass harmonica
-the Franklin Stove
He also founded the first public library and the first volunteer fire department in the U.S.
So, grade school history lesson aside, here he is enjoying some much deserved attention from a pair of adoring French ladies — a symbol of good international relations many of us could benefit to learn from today.