Franklin’s (Benjamin) Birthday
This holiday is a commemoration of the birth of Benjamin Franklin—printer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, writer,editor, wit, and aphorist. Born in Boston on this day in 1706, Franklin helped edit, and was a signer of, the Declaration ofIndependence. He also helped to frame the Constitution. The commonsense moralities of his Poor Richard’s Almanacbecame catch-phrases in his time and are still quoted today—for example, “Make haste slowly”; “Fish and visitors smell inthree days”; “He that goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing.”
Franklin invented bifocals, proposed Daylight Saving Time in 1786, and unsuccessfully recommended the wild turkey ratherthan the bald eagle as the national bird. When he died in 1790 in Philadelphia, he was given the most impressive funeral thatcity had ever seen: 20,000 people attended.
Since 1991, the Bower Award and Prize in Science—a cash prize of more than $300,000—has been presented on Jan. 17by the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to a person who has made a scientific contribution of a practical nature in the mannerof Franklin. Also in Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute Science Museum holds a two-day “birthday bash” that often involvespeople dressing as Franklin. The celebration takes place on the weekend preceding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is theMonday after Jan. 15.
Franklin Institute Science Museum
222 N. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20540
202-707-5000; fax: 202-707-8366
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 65
AnnivHol-2000, p. 10
DictDays-1988, p. 44