Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

Moby's coonskin cap

Airdate November 9, 2005
Curriculum Science
Social Studies

Benjamin Franklin launched in BrainPOP Science and Social Studies November 9, 2005.



Transcript Edit

Quiz Edit

FYI Comics Edit

Quotables Edit


Benjamin Franklin's witty quotes and sayings, which he often published in Poor Richard’s Almanack, were well-known back in his own time. Here are a few memorable ones:

“Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.”

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self.”

“None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in an error.”

“Fish and Visitors stink in 3 days.”

“Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”

“He that cannot obey, cannot command.”

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

Real Life Edit


In the movie, Tim and Moby mention Ben Franklin’s journalistic career, which started when he helped his brother James publish The New England CourantThe Courant was more than just an ordinary paper; in fact, it was the first truly independent newspaper in the American colonies.

Prior to The Courant, American newspapers were just collections of news items that had been taken from London newspapers. By the time they reached print in America, the items were usually months out of date. But The Courant was something different: it gave American writers a chance to show off their wit through satirical essays and letters.

The paper’s “writers” were all fictional characters with names like Ichabod Henroost, Justice Nicholas Clodpate, and Abigail Afterwit, and they would exchange jokes about local trends, politics, and individuals. Needless to say, the paper was constantly in danger of being sued.

In the late 1720s, Franklin settled in Philadelphia and took over the Pennsylvania Gazette. In that paper—soon to become the most popular in the colonies—some scholars believe that Franklin established the foundation of modern American news coverage.

The Gazette would examine more than one side of a given issue and publish different points of view. When he was criticized for printing an opinion piece that clashed with popular sentiment, he wrote that it was his job to print the truth, no matter how unpopular it was. The paper also printed one of the very first political cartoons—drawn, of course, by Franklin himself.

Way Back When Edit


In 1778, a community of farmers established a new town outside of Boston. They had a problem, though: Their church—which in addition to serving as the town’s house of worship had also served as the town’s meeting house and cultural center—had no bell.

The town desperately needed a bell to call its citizens to worship and to alert them to fire, floods, or other dangers. So they came up with an ingenious scheme: They’d name the town Franklin, Massachusetts, and ask Ben Franklin to donate a bell!

The farmers wrote Franklin and asked him for a bell—but Franklin wouldn’t give them one. Instead, he sent them a crate of books, along with a letter that informed them that “sense was preferable to sound” and which implored them to start a town library.

The townspeople took Franklin’s advice, and the Franklin Public Library, America’s oldest public library, is still in operation today.

Trivia Edit

  • John Paul Jones, who led the U.S. Navy to several key victories in the Revolutionary War, named his ship the Bonhomme Richard—French for "Poor Richard"—in honor of Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack.”
  • As postmaster-general of the American colonies, Franklin developed the very first dead letter office (where mail gets sent when it can’t be delivered).
  • After the Boston Tea Party, Franklin promised to pay for the tea with his personal fortune—as long as Great Britain repealed the unpopular tax on tea.
  • Ben Franklin was the first person to propose the idea of daylight saving time, which he suggested in a 1784 letter to a Paris gazette.
  • In another 1784 letter (this one to his daughter), Ben Franklin complained about the bald eagle’s selection as America’s national bird, arguing that the turkey would’ve been a better choice.
  • Ben Franklin never sought public office.

FYI Comic Edit

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