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Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American scientist, inventor and statesman. Franklin was a major figure in the Enlightenment and the history of physics. He showed that lightning is electricity by flying a kite during a thunderstorm, collecting the current that passed along the kite string through a key into a Leyden jar. Among his many inventions were the lightning rod, fins for swimming, bifocal glasses and a urinary catheter. He was the first to show that evaporation cooled objects, and he opened the first public lending library in America. As a political writer he supported unity of the states based on puritan ethics mixed with the science and tolerance of the Enlightenment. He was one of the five statesmen who drafted the US Declaration of Independence.
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