Benjamin Franklin

Founding Father of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), excelled in numerous fields owing to his vast interests. His contributions to the American Revolution and the building of a new nation were only one part of a highly distinguished career. In his 84 years he was a printer, a postmaster, an ambassador, an author, a scientist, a philosopher, a writer, a statesman and, above all, an inventor. By the age of 11, he was inventing solutions to common problems, including a ‘Long Arm’ to grab books from the top shelf and swimming fins to help him swim more easily. He even made life a bit more musical with the invention of a glass harmonica. His most famous work was in the field of electricity, even inventing a new type of battery in 1748. The University of St Andrews awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1759 for his Writings on Electricity and the town of St Andrews granted him ‘Freedom of the Burgh’. Grateful, he made the journey to accept this honour and later wrote “I believe Scotland would be the country I should choose to spend the remainder of my days in.” Franklin valued academia highly, saying: “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”