Bringing statues to life: Benjamin Franklin

1705 – 1790

American politician, scientist, writer and inventor. As well as inventing the lightning conductor and bifocal glasses, he also pioneered refrigeration through evaporation and developed a glass harmonica for which both Mozart and Beethoven wrote compositions.

The first American known to have played chess, he also invented a phonetic alphabet, was one of five who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was the American ambassador to France, and was a frequent visitor to the notorious Hellfire Club while living in London.

He was a fervent vegetarian, despite which his obesity led to gout. His Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress was deemed too licentious to be published.

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