History Podcast 44 – Ben Franklin’s 300th Birthday.mp3 22:29 – 20.7MB
This podcast was produced in parts. Only my part is listed below.
On April 30th, 1762, at the age of 56 Franklin receives a honoary Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford. In the same year he invented probably his least known invention the glass armonica. He had a glassmaker create 37 hemispheres made of glass, with each hemisphere being a different size and thickness to produce different pitches. Franklin ran an iron rod through a hole in the top of each hemisphere so that they could nest together from largest to smallest. He linked all of this to an apparatus like a spinning wheel, with a foot treadle that turned the rod, making the glass hemispheres rotate. Franklin moistened his fingers and held them against the rims of the glass hemispheres as they turned, producing a sound similar to musical glasses. The instrument gained popularity with many including Marie Antoinette, Beetohven and Mozart, but by the early nineteenth century the popularity of the instrument had faded.
In 1763 Franklin sent a letter to an English friend where he stated that he felt black people were equal to whites. In that same year he worked with charity schools for blacks in Philidelphia. Later in 1772 Franklin releases all slaves in his service.
During the stamp act, which Franklin was opposed. He made the mistake of purchasing stamps to sell at his print shop. His wife Deborah, fearing her house would be mobbed called on her male realitives to guard her home. In 1764 Franklin travelled to London to act as an agent for the Assembly to oppose the Stamp Act in parliament.
In 1768 proving to be a true renassiance man Franklin wrote a brief history of the relations between the American Colonies and Britian. In that same year he published charts showing the course of the gulf stream in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sadly in 1769, his wife suffers a stroke and her health begins to dterrioate. She later dies in December of 1774.
In 1773 and 74 Franklin was involved in the “Hutchinson Affair.” Thomas Hutchinson was an English-appointed governor of Massachusetts. Although he pretended to take the side of the people of Massachusetts in their complaints against England, he was actually still working for the King. Franklin got a hold of some letters in which Hutchinson called for “an abridgment of what are called English Liberties” in America. He sent the letters to America where much of the population was outraged. After leaking the letters Franklin was called to Whitehall, the English Foreign Ministry, where he was condemned in public.
In November of 1775, the Second Continental Congress created the Committee of Secret Correspondence for the purpose of furthering the American cause in England and Europe. This was the colonies’ first foreign intelligence operation. The committee conducted covert operations, devised ciphers and codes, employed secret agents, and paid for propaganda activities. Benjamin Franklin was one of the five original members of this committee.
And of course as we all know in 1776 Franklin helped draft and signed the Decleration of independence. Later in 1785 he invents bi-focal lenses and is elected to his last public office, President of the Supreme Executive Coucil of Pensyvania. The next year he becomes the presidnet of the Pensyvania Society of Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. In 1789 he takes it a step further writing and signing a formal protest aganist slavery given to American Congress.
In 1790 Franklin dies at his home to Pleurisy on April 17. Buried April 21 beside wife, Deborah, and son Francis in Christ Church burial ground, Philadelphia.