Franklin's scientific discoveries are possibly the most important and long- lasting achievement of his career. He discovered and described some of the basic properties of electricity. Without these discoveries, we would not have electric lights, streetcars, walkmans, or computers. We might still be using torches and oil lamps, as Franklin and his contemporaries did. He richly deserves his fame as a scientist.

Franklin's scientific experiments indicate that he was a genius, a man who thought far ahead of his contemporaries. However, they also tell us something about his era. Today, science is much more complicated; scientists spend their entire lives learning very specific things to push the boundaries of knowledge. In contrast, Franklin studied science more or less as a hobby. He lived in an era when an intelligent and educated person could learn a large portion of the world's knowledge. Today, not even Franklin could be a leading scientist, inventor, writer and politician. This fact does not make Franklin any less remarkable–it simply shows us how much the world has changed.

Franklin loved science first, but he also loved power. His experience with the militia helped to make his political reputation. He had never held an elected office and always referred to himself simply as "Benjamin Franklin, printer." With war looming, however, Franklin got more actively involved. Aware that some people, both within and outside the Pennsylvania, feared he would become too powerful, he tried to downplay his role in politics. This probably influenced his decision not to lead the militia. He knew better than most politicians in his era that sometimes the boss is not the most powerful person around–sometimes it is the boss's right-hand man. By the time Franklin finally took a seat in the Pennsylvania assembly, he was already one of the most powerful men in the state.

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