Can you answer this riddle?

Do you know the name of the famous American who had only two years of schooling but later was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law?
Who began reading the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch at age 11. Then at age 12, when Blackbeard was captured, wrote a ballad for the occasion.
And at age 83 wrote an anti-slavery treatise?
Who invented the lighting rod and founded the first American fire insurance company? The man you have to thank if you see clearly through your bifocal glasses.
The man who wrote, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Who was an inventor, philosopher, writer, and politician of such fame and popularity that there were 20,000 mourners at the time of his death.
If you haven’t guessed by now, his name was Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin was born Jan. 17, 1706—exactly 300 years ago this January. Ben was the 10th child of 17. His father wanted him to be a clergyman, but could only afford to pay for two years of school. So young Ben became an apprentice in his brother’s print shop.
This turned out to be a perfect fit.
Ben soon had his own print shop and at age 26, he began publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” It sold so well that when his brother died leaving his wife without any means of supporting herself, Ben sent 500 copies of his Almanack so his sister-in-law could make money by selling them.
For 25 years he published “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” creating hundreds of witty and wise sayings we still remember today: “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “God helps them that help themselves,” and “he that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”
After 300 years, almost everyone still knows Ben Franklin’s name and respects him. I’m not quite sure why, but it may be because of what Franklin himself once wrote, “If you would not be forgotten/As soon as you are dead and rotten/Either write things worth reading/Or do things worth the writing.”
He surely did both.
Franklin said he wished he had been born a century later. He was a man ahead of his time. But since he couldn’t change what era he lived in, he acted to help shape the future he longed for.
He was the first person to study electricity and lightning, and invented the lightning rod. And he was the first person to study the movement of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.
An early environmentalist, he protested the pollution from slaughter houses.
When Franklin saw a need, he filled it. As a result, in addition to his myriad of inventions, he pushed for daylight saving time, helped establish the two-house Congress that provides representation to both large and small states, and set up the first Dead-Mail Office.
Franklin was an innovator his whole life. At age 81, he was the oldest delegate in attendance at the Constitutional Convention. And at age 83, he was president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
Perhaps the greatest legacy Ben Franklin left us was a lesson in how to live fully throughout our lives: Stay actively involved in the present, but always with a goal of creating a better future.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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