Q. 68: What Is One Thing Benjamin Franklin Is Famous For?

100 dollar bills
Benjamin Franklin was added to the 100 dollar bill.

To pass the US citizenship test, you will have to answer 10 of a possible 100 questions. The following question is from the USCIS test.

Acceptable Answers:

  • U.S. diplomat
  • oldest member of the Constitutional Convention
  • first Postmaster General of the United States
  • writer of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”
  • started the first free libraries


The following is a full explanation of the USCIS question:

This is an interesting list to choose as possible answers for a few reasons. The first three are a pretty big deal, the fourth is a strange choice considering Benjamin Franklin’s other accomplishments, and the last isn’t 100% accurate. So, let’s take a closer look at these five achievements, some other notable facts about the man, and the one thing he is often falsely accredited with.

10 Things That Benjamin Franklin Is Famous For

He Was a U.S. Diplomat

The role of a diplomat was one of many undertaken by Franklin when working on behalf of the government. His work took place in France, where he was in charge of maintaining relationships to improve the likelihood of American independence from Great Britain. He set up the 1778 alliance with France to deliver America a stronger ally in the war while also continuing to negotiate with the British.

He Was the Oldest Member of the Constitutional Convention

This is an interesting fact because many forget that there was such a wide range of age groups at the Constitutional Convention. They weren’t all youngsters trying to shape the future of their homeland, as some were much more experienced and able to dispense wise advice. This was certainly true of Franklin, who was 81 when the convention met in 1787.

He Was the First Postmaster General of the United States

Benjamin Franklin has strong ties to the post office. He was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775 by the Second Continental Congress because of his previous experience. He had held the position of Postmaster of Philadelphia from 1737 to 1753 while also working as a columnist for the Pennsylvania Gazette.

He Was the Author of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”

This is a strange accomplishment to list because it means so little to people today. The work was an impressive piece of printing and an informative publication. The Almanac ran for twenty-five years under a pseudonym and offered updates on the weather, other scientific information, business advice, recipes, poems, and even divination.

He Started the First Free Libraries

This is the fact on that original list that isn’t wholly accurate. Benjamin Franklin did a lot of great work in creating libraries and set up an impressive city library in Philadelphia in 1731. However, this one required a subscription fee to fund it’s operation, so it wasn’t entirely free.

He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

Benjamin Franklin holds the honor of being the only Founding Father to sign four major documents that shaped the creation of the United States as an independent nation. His signature is found on both the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the United States Constitution (1787). The others were major treaties, including the following.

He Was Present at the Signing of the Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Paris was a seminal moment in the pursuit of American independence. America had declared its intentions in 1776 and made them abundantly clear during the Revolutionary War. However, the British didn’t concede until that meeting of minds in Paris in 1783. Franklin was there with two other dignitaries – John Adams and John Jay.

He Was the Inventor of the Lightning Rod

Benjamin Franklin was the inventor of many things, and the lightning rod is one of the most famous. He also created a more fuel-efficient stove than leading models at the time and bifocal lenses. Sadly, nothing was patented.

He Invented an Instrument That Caught the Attention of Mozart and Beethoven

This is one of the more unusual tidbits about Benjamin Franklin as an inventor. Another creation his was the glass harmonica. He came up with the concept of these glass instruments of various sizes and pitches and then formed an interesting new instrument. The sound was intriguing, and Mozart and Beethoven both composed pieces for it.

Being on the 100-Dollar Bill

This last one may be a little obvious and not the most highbrow answer, but at least it is undeniable. Benjamin Franklin’s achievements and place in American history are such that he was added to a dollar bill. This isn’t a bill that you will often see, unlike the smaller denominations bearing presidents’ faces, but it suggests affluence.

One Thing That Benjamin Franklin Is Not Famous For

There is often the assumption that Franklin was President of the United States. He was President of the Council of Pennsylvania but never the leader of the entire country. Franklin was not president, nor did he ever run for president. The simple reason for this was his age.

We must remember that he was the eldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, aged 81 in 1787. The first President of the United States, George Washington, was elected in 1789, when Fanklin was 83. By today’s standards, that may not be as much of an issue as President Biden is currently 79. But, Franklin was feeling his age and would die the following year, aged 84.

Benjamin Franklin Accomplished a Great Deal

The problem here is that this untrue presidency would be an obvious answer for those that didn’t study for the Naturalization Test. Thankfully, there is so much else that Franklin was responsible for that it isn’t hard to reel off a long list of achievements.

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