6. Benjamin Franklin Statue

 


Statues of Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Henry, created by Daniel Chester French, flank the old front entrance of Palmer Hall. 

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most eminent early American public servants, as well as an important scientist, inventor and philosopher.  He is the only Founding Father to have signed all four documents crucial to the creation of the country—the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain, and the Constitution of the United States. His successful diplomacy in France was central to that nation’s support of the American Revolution.  The civic-minded Franklin also organized the first fire department in Philadelphia, improved the mail delivery system in the colonies and new states while serving as postmaster, and helped establish an academy for higher education now known as the University of Pennsylvania. 

The placement of Franklin’s statue on the Palmer Physical Laboratory paid homage to his scientific and intellectual achievements.  One of the first to study electricity, Franklin’s famous kite experiment demonstrated the electrical properties of lightning and led to his creation of the lightning rod.  He also invented bifocal eyeglasses, the iron furnace “Franklin” stove, the odometer and the catheter.  He was the first scientist to study the Atlantic Gulf Stream during his frequent trips to Europe, and while there he proposed the implementation of daylight-savings time in the summer.  Beyond the endless list of his accomplishments, Franklin was one of the greatest American thinkers of all time. His publication Poor Richard’s Almanack abounded with wisdom, wit and pithy sayings that are still repeated today.

  • To learn more about Benjamin Franklin, see Café Vivian picture #19.

  • To learn more about the history of science at Princeton, see icon #2, 5, and 7, quotation #9, 27, 34, and 39, and Café Vivian picture #14, 15, 22, 25, 32, 35, 41, 43, 51, 64, 75, 78, 83, 87, 90, 114, and 131.

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