“There never was a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.”

—Benjamin Franklin

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you're dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing," said Benjamin Franklin. The United States has never forgotten Benjamin Franklin because he did both. He lived these words of wisdom by writing prolifically and pursuing work as a scientist, inventor, statesman, printer, philosopher and economist.

Franklin was born on Jan. 17, 1706. He attended school for only a few years before becoming an apprentice printer to his older brother at the age of 12. Soon he learned that his brother's newspaper was looking for original stories, but Franklin was too young to submit articles. Clever Franklin got around this challenge by devising a fictional widow who slipped "her" stories under the door at night so no one knew who “she” was. After several stories had been published, and were very popular, Franklin admitted he wrote them—a revelation that displeased his brother.

After troubles continued to grow between the two brothers, at age 17, Franklin ran away, an act that was illegal at the time. Despite his youthful rebelliousness, he continued working as a printer’s apprentice, a career he sustained for many years in his new home of Philadelphia. Later, he married and with his wife ran a print shop, book store and general store. During these years, Franklin thrived on work and eventually printed an almanac and a newspaper, contributing a great deal of the material himself. His paper carried the first political cartoon.

In the 1730s and 1740s, Franklin worked to improve life in Philadelphia. He was constantly bursting with ideas and put the effort into accomplishing these ideas, becoming the force behind the first public hospital, lending library, fire-fighting company and fire insurance. His numerous inventions included bifocal eyeglasses and a heat-efficient stove. He refused to take out patents so that the items would be available to all.

In the 1750s, retired from the printing business, Franklin became very interested in electricity. In June 1752, he conducted his famous kite experiment. He suspected that lightning was an electrical current and wanted to see if it could be transferred via a metal object. He put a metal key on a kite to prove his theory. Fortunately, he was holding onto a dry silk ribbon, not the key, and so he was unharmed by the electrical energy. He did get a small shock, which in true inventive fashion, gave him an awareness of lightning’s danger and led him to design the lightning rod, which is still in use today (and saved Franklin’s own house from a later lightning strike).

Also in the 1750s, Franklin became active in politics. He served as the Colonial representative for several states in England from 1757 to 1775. After his return to the colonies, he worked actively for independence. Franklin participated on a committee of five that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, Franklin signed the Declaration and then went to France to represent the United States. In his late 70s, Franklin returned to America and served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance, Amity and Commerce with France (1778), the Treaty of Peace among England, France and the United States (1782), and the Constitution (1787).

Franklin died on April 17, 1790, at age 84. Twenty thousand people attended the funeral of the man who was called "the harmonious human multitude." No other individual was more involved in the birth of our nation—but perhaps most memorably, his legacy is filled with act after act of bold curiosity, brash risk-taking and more than anything, raw ingenuity.

Ingenuity. Pass It On!

This billboard about Ingenuity features Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790); author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, diplomat..

Pass It On®

  email   Print

Your Comments
Fang Lixin from Beijing, China OCTOBER 30, 2021
this is the best legacy which a father can pass onto his child.

Sonny from Casa Grande Arizona MAY 4, 2020
I really like his story of life.

leonado from ohio SEPTEMBER 18, 2015
your a great person i want to be you when i get older

Zach from wisconsin DECEMBER 12, 2012
This man was amazing!

Eleanor Lynch from Bellflower, CA MAY 12, 2012
Only he has the right to tell someone to go fly a kite. My first thought after seeing this billboard. Great Man.

zach lane from indianapolis MARCH 22, 2012
it was a very informational piece and pretty interesting.

Bill from Omaha, Nebraska JANUARY 26, 2012
Ben Franklin is a very smart man.

Cattttt! from Nebraska JANUARY 26, 2012
Benjamin Franklin is a good person with a big thing.

angel from nebraska JANUARY 25, 2012
That is a good creation. To make electricity

Maddie from Omaha.Ne JANUARY 25, 2012
Awwwwww so nice ...................... Whenever I travel to a place that I feel like there is no hope, I see this certain billboard out of the hundreds of them and it makes me feel like I can do anything!

Andrew M from Towson, MD APRIL 5, 2011
Lets go fly a kite and send it soaring!

Pat from Russia, New York NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Mr. Franklin, a true American genius.

Antonio Martins from San Antonio, TX APRIL 15, 2010
Not in the too distant past, the brain had the world to explore; however, today it seems as though it is mostly confined to a small space where it relies on technology to entertain it in place of it entertaining ideas for a better world.

Scott C. from New Castle, Indiana AUGUST 29, 2009
Benjamin Franklin was the kind of man whose genius could be little dreamed of today. He was also a giant of a statesman. Without him at our founding, there can be little doubt that our nation would have been the poorer for it.

Al S. from Mesa, AZ APRIL 30, 2009
A great reminder of what this country is all about!

Mark from Michigan FEBRUARY 1, 2009
Franklin and "Ingenuity" stopped me in my tracks today. I got off the freeway just read the website name and look up your site. Thank you for the encouragement during layoffs and reinventing ourselves here in Michigan.

Pat P from Wayne, NJ OCTOBER 25, 2008
"Go Fly A Kite" Ingenuity, pass it on. That was one of the greatest billboards I've ever seen. Thanks!

Jim M. from North Carolina AUGUST 2, 2008
As a member of the American Kitefliers Association who has been blessed with the opportunity to fly kites in many parts of the world, my attention was drawn to this billboard in particular. Dr. Franklin was one of the truly great Americans as well as our most famous kite flier. I know he would be proud to be associated with your message and outreach.

Charitha from Sri Lanka FEBRUARY 2, 2008
This site is breath taking; it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your effort in making our lives much more meaningful.

Teri K. from Payson, Arizona USA NOVEMBER 9, 2007
Ben Franklin & Leonardo Di Vinci woulda been great pals! They're both considered household saints in my book.

Dawn V. from San Diego, California USA AUGUST 17, 2007
That is one of the most creative things I have ever seen. Honestly, that's my happy song. When I saw that on the side of the freeway I was happy the rest of the day...and had that wonderful song in my head.

Neibu from Nagaland, India AUGUST 1, 2007
He had lived to its fullness. Wow!

Chris from Brazil MAY 18, 2007
Absolutely lovely!!!!!! cheers hugs

Lisa R. from The Windy City, Chicago MAY 7, 2007
Thank you for your efforts! It's great to see someone making a difference, without strings attatched.

George B. from Tacoma Washington APRIL 9, 2007
Oh let's go... fly a kite!

Kim from NJ APRIL 8, 2007
Whenever I travel to a place that I feel like there is no hope, I see this certain billboard out of the hundreds of them and it makes me feel like I can do anything!

Mary P. from Albequerque, NM APRIL 8, 2007
Up to the highest height

Here are some other billboards you might like.
We use cookies or similar technologies to process data when you visit our site. This data may relate to your use of our site, your preferences, your device, or other information about you. We and third parties may use this information for a variety of purposes, such as enabling the sites to function, to personalize your experience when using our sites, and for analytical purposes. Read our privacy policy and terms of use for details. close

Reject All Accept All