The Benjamin Franklin Quiz

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Where was Benjamin Franklin born?

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706.

Was Franklin ever president of the United States?

People often assume that Franklin was one of the early presidents. Understandable, because he did just about everything else, but he was never president.

What was his father's occupation?

Josiah Franklin was a soap and candle maker.

How many siblings did he have?

Franklin was the 15th of his father's 17 kids (with two wives).

How many years of formal education did Franklin complete?

Franklin was sent to school when he was 8 and pulled out when he was 10.

What was Franklin's worst subject in his brief stint at school?

A brilliant mathematician in later years, Franklin actually failed math twice.

What did Franklin want to be when he grew up?

Young Ben had dreams of being a sailor like one of his brothers, but his father wouldn't hear of it.

At the age of 12, Franklin was apprenticed to his brother in what kind of shop?

He went to work as a typesetter at his brother's newspaper, the New England Courant.

While working for his brother, Franklin secretly wrote letters to the newspaper under this name.

A teenage Franklin took on the persona of a widow named Silence Dogood and wrote 14 letters to the paper, which turned out to be wildly popular.

Where did Franklin go when he quit the print shop?

James wasn't too happy when he found out who Silence Dogood was, so Ben took off and escaped to Philadelphia.

What was the name of the newspaper that Franklin ran in Philadelphia?

Franklin didn't found the Gazette, but he and a partner bought it in 1729 and made it the most successful paper in the colonies.

In 1737, the Pennsylvania Gazette published Franklin's list of more than 200 synonyms for this word.

"The Drinkers Dictionary" listed synonyms for "drunk" -- like "crack'd," "glaiz'd" and "pidgeon ey'd."

Did Franklin own slaves?

Franklin owned two slaves, George and King, who worked in his house. But he eventually freed them and became an abolitionist.

Which of these terms did Franklin NOT coin?

Franklin came up with many electricity-related terms, but telephone wasn't one of them.

Franklin devised a new phonetic alphabet that would do away with the letters C, J, W, Y, Q and __.

Franklin considered C, J, W, Y, Q and X to be redundant letters.

For how many years of his life did Franklin live overseas?

Franklin lived in London and Paris for a total of 27 years, crossing the Atlantic 20 times.

What discovery did Franklin make that cut two weeks off travel time across the Atlantic?

Franklin studied the currents on his many trips across the ocean. He noticed the warm current flowing like "a river in the ocean" and realized that ships traveling to Europe could go much faster if they followed it.

Which bird did Franklin argue might be a better national symbol than the eagle?

In a letter to his daughter, Franklin wrote, "I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character…. the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird."

In 1775, Franklin became the first person to hold this position in the United States.

Franklin was made the first postmaster general of the United States.

What was the name of the philosophical club that Franklin started in Philadelphia?

Junto was a group of men from all different occupations that met on Friday nights.

In 1747, Franklin anonymously wrote a fictional story about this woman, who was prosecuted for having a child out of wedlock.

"The Speech of Polly Baker" was an indictment of the judicial system, which persecuted unwed mothers but not men.

Franklin had quite a fondness for pseudonyms. What was another?

The character of Richard Saunders was the namesake of "Poor Richard's Almanack," which Franklin published for 25 years.

Most of Franklin's famous sayings were first published in the almanac. This was NOT one of them.

"United we stand" does apply to the situation, but that's actually Aesop, not Franklin.

Bach and Beethoven composed pieces on this now-obscure instrument that Franklin invented.

The glass armonica is long out of vogue, but Franklin was very proud of it.

Franklin was an unlikely trendsetter when he moved to Paris toward the end of his life. What was one item that he made fashionable?

The French were ga-ga for the elderly Franklin's fur hats.

In 1783, Franklin negotiated this treaty, which ended the Revolution.

Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and Henry Laurens represented the United States in the Treaty of Paris negotiations.

Franklin's son William was the governor of this state.

Franklin himself had an illegitimate son, William, who was the last colonial governor of New Jersey.

At what age did Franklin become a self-proclaimed "gentleman of leisure?"

By 42, Franklin had made enough money to retire, and he literally printed all of the money for Pennsylvania and Delaware. Of course, he did more in "retirement" than 99.9 percent of other people.

Which college did Franklin NOT have a hand in founding?

Franklin helped start the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin & Marshall, but not Penn State.

In 1968, Franklin was inducted into the hall of fame for this sport.

Franklin was quite the swimmer, covering miles of the Thames River when he lived in London and also inventing his own swim fins.

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About This Quiz

Inventor, statesman, writer and notorious prankster Benjamin Franklin is often called "the first American" for his myriad contributions to life in the early United States. Can you ace our quiz on Ben?

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