Ben Franklin Re-Invented

Very nice article and video about David Mitchell of Crossville (TN?): school presentation with armonica music.


Swim fins, bifocals and the glass harmonica are just a few of the inventions Benjamin Franklin showed off when he visited the Spring Hill Public Library Tuesday.

The politician, inventor and newspaper publisher — portrayed by David Mitchell of Crossville —stopped by as part of the library’s summer reading program to educate children — and adults — about his scientific contributions. From demonstrations on typesetting to static electricity, participants learned about Franklin’s experiments, his love for books and how he developed his first invention at the age of nine.

Children’s Library Marsha Gallardo said Mitchell does the presentation through Mobile Ed Productions, a company that provides interactive programs for schools, libraries and other groups. Gallardo said Franklin’s love of science and inventing goes hand-in-hand with the theme for this year’s summer reading program: Fizz, Boom Read.

“We are super excited to have such high quality entertainment for our community,” Gallardo said. “It’s amazing how many things you didn’t realize after watching the presentation. It’s really great to see history come to life.”

Mitchell has portrayed Franklin for 10 years, and while he does four other programs for Mobile Ed, Mitchell said the Benjamin Franklin presentation is the only one he does in character. The program has taken him from New Hampshire to California in previous years.

“I have been involved in teaching my entire adult life,” Mitchell said. “This brings history to life. History can be boring, and was for me in school. This lets kids meet a character and learn he was a lot like them. Franklin, in particular, inspired a lot of patriotism. He was one of this country’s first rags-to-riches stories and was a real self-starter.”

Though he has portrayed Franklin for years, Mitchell said he is always learning something new about one of the nation’s most famous Founding Fathers.

“I have about 50 books about Franklin, and I am always learning new things,” he said. “He was called the American DaVinci because he was so multi-faceted. He was a man who loved to learn.”

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Constitutional Convention: Elizabeth Powell?

Franklin’s quote about “a republic, if you can keep it” is cited daily somewhere on the Internet, it seems. This posting is the first I’ve noticed that identified the woman who asked Franklin the question:

At the close of America’s Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked by George Washington’s friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Powell of Philadelphia, “Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”


Franklin’s Death

A nice posting on the anniversary of Dr. Franklin’s Death here, by Scott Bomboy, editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.


Madison asked his colleagues in the House of Representatives to wear symbols of mourning for one month and they agreed.

The Senate declined. The chamber was influenced by John Adams, who disliked Franklin, as did Richard Henry Lee. The Senate also ignored tributes about Franklin sent by France. Franklin, in his lifetime, had been critical of a government that had two houses of legislature, and his grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, was a newspaper publisher openly critical of the Federalists who controlled the Senate.

Jefferson lost an argument with President George Washington for the executive branch to wear mourning symbols. Washington feared the act would set a precedent for all Founding Fathers and that it was too similar to how royalty was honored in Europe.

The first official eulogy for Franklin in the United States didn’t happen until 1791.


The 1791 Eulogy might be referring to the graduation exercises of the Philadelphia Academy, with Ye Sages, Contending in Virtue’s Fair Cause…”


Alexander D. Bache, Great-Grandson


from an Article in, 4/14/2014.

Bache Stones


Granite monuments set more than 150 years ago mark a baseline surveyed on the Outer Banks. A ceremony on April 11, 2014, honored the work done by survey team leader Alexander D. Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. (Courtesy of the National Park Service)


By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot


A nearly 7-mile string of granite monuments set on Bodie Island in 1848 – all still in place – mark one of the first official surveys of the Outer Banks.

The markers formed a baseline for mapping the coast and its waterways, from ocean to inland rivers.

“They knew they were setting the foundations for American geodesy,” said Bobby Stalls, a retired surveyor from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Geodesy is the science of measuring the Earth.

Stalls spoke Friday to about 50 people gathered in a clearing around the northernmost monument deep in the brush near a National Park Service rest stop. Representatives from the National Geodetic Survey, the North Carolina Geodetic Survey and the North Carolina Society of Surveyors attended along with other guests, standing among pines and wax myrtles during the ceremony dedicating and celebrating the original work.

President Thomas Jefferson in 1807 set up the Survey of the Coast to establish safe passage into U.S. ports and along the coastline. First mapped were Maine, New York, Maryland, the Outer Banks, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bodie Island markers are the only complete set remaining, Stalls said. Alexander D. Bache, a great grandson of Benjamin Franklin, led the project.

The original Survey of the Coast was the predecessor of the National Geodetic Survey, the agency responsible for mapping the nation. Brass and bronze markers placed all over the country serve as base points for surveyors locating bridges and buildings.

The 1846 storm that opened Oregon Inlet interrupted the Bodie Island survey, according to a history provided by the North Carolina Society of Surveyors. Eleven sailors – including Bache’s brother – were washed overboard and lost.

The inlet severed the original line. Bache considered building a bridge. Instead, he moved the baseline, running it 6.75 miles from the new shoreline north to the monument where Friday’s group gathered. He set granite markers about 1 mile apart.

“They wanted it to last,” Stalls said. “They needed it to last.”

A 2000 mapping project by the state Department of Transportation rediscovered the granite marker 36 inches square at the north end of the original baseline for the first time since the 1970s. Another monument sits close by, marked with Bache’s name. A team of volunteers cleared brush and found the other markers along the line two years later.

Park Service workers cleared a path of about a third of a mile from the rest stop to the monument. A modern survey of the baseline found the measurements were accurate within 5 inches, Stalls said.

“That’s amazing,” he said.

Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159,


Play – Silas Deane, Franklin and Edward Bancroft

New comedy at West End Theater this weekend

PORTSMOUTH — George Hosker-Bouley’s new comedy “Silas Deane – Not Just a Highway’’ will play June 6, 7 and 8 at the West End Theater.

Performances are Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m.

Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (978) 683-7745,

Norm Smith, George Hosker-Bouley and Meg Oolders
Norm Smith, George Hosker-Bouley and Meg Oolders

This is a revolutionary comedy regarding accused spy Silas Deane of Connecticut. The spy has been portrayed by Hosker-Bouley for the last 10 years as part of the Portsmouth Underbelly Tour but his story has never been told.

Deane along with Benjamin Franklin and aide Edward Bancroft were instrumental in creating the Treaty of Alliance, which allowed France to help out America in its war for independence.

This new comedy, however, is far more than a history lesson.

Much like the Portsmouth Underbelly Tour, “Silas Deane – Not Just a Highway” is told in anecdotal form, which is closer to vaudeville than a class in school.

The play centers on Deane’s apparent murder, and because the book has never been closed, many possibilities are explored as Deane’s story is told through the eyes of a bumbling Franklin, a boozy Betsy Ross, a stuck-up Bancroft and a King George who would look more at home on top of a wedding cake than the throne of England.

The comedy features Norm Smith, Meg Oolders, Anne Rehner, Richard DiMario, Ken Stiles and George Hosker-Bouley.

Source: The Union Leader.

Norm Smith, George Hosker-Bouley and Meg Oolders

Franklin’s Musical Life – at Rutgers

Acclaimed Soprano Julianne Baird to Perform ‘Benjamin Franklin’s Musical Life’ June 11 at Rutgers

Julianne Baird
Julianne Baird

Free concert, narrated by Edward Mauger, examines founding father’s tastes.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Benjamin Franklin wore many hats during his 84 years. Among the best known: pamphleteer, printer, inventor, philosopher, politician, sage, soldier and statesman. But there is another hat he shared with many of his fellow founding fathers: that of a music lover.

An appreciation of music was common among the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson was an avid violinist and practiced up to three hours a day. A young Col. George Washington once paid the equivalent of $300 for a ticket to a concert in Philadelphia. But arguably, Franklin was the most enthusiastic music lover of them all, and his appreciation will be the focus of Benjamin Franklin’s Musical Life, a free public concert Wednesday, June 11, 4 p.m. at Rutgers.

Internationally renowned soprano Julianne Baird, distinguished professor of music in the Department of Fine Arts, Rutgers University-Camden, will perform a program that encompasses the full range of Franklin’s 18th century world. His eclectic tastes ranged from simple Scottish folk songs, tavern tunes and political satires to Handel’s Messiah and French opera. Baird, one of the world’s 10 most recorded women and an admired musical scholar, will be accompanied by Rebecca Cypess, assistant professor at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Edward A. Mauger, founder of Philadelphia on Foot and author of several books and articles on Philadelphia and colonial life, will serve as narrator, and the narration is taken from Franklin’s own words. The concert has been performed in such venues as Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan and in London for the Benjamin Franklin House Museum.

The 90-minute concert will take place in the Schare Recital Hall (second floor), Marryott Music Building, 81 George St. in New Brunswick. It is presented by the New Brunswick Summer Session.

“What can you learn about the founding fathers from their musical tastes?” Mauger asks. “The multifaceted, brilliant Franklin was perhaps the most enthusiastic music lover of them all. Of his many inventions, the one that brought him the greatest personal satisfaction was his glass armonica.”

Franklin invented a radically new arrangement for the instrument, which was played by rubbing water-filled glass or crystal goblets or bowls.

Source: Rutgers website, Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Media Contact:
Steve Manas

Waterbury Library Statue

Announcement from CT Trust for Historic Preservation (from Facebook):

We will be writing a State Register nomination for the Benjamin Franklin statue located in front of the Silas Bronson Library in Waterbury for our Creative Places Trail. The statue was created by Connecticut sculptor, Paul Wayland Bartlett and completed in 1921. It was cast in Baltimore and went on a 22-city tour before ending in Waterbury’s library park. The sculpture was commissioned post-WWI to promote patriotism.

Bethlehem, PA: Sun Inn

The list of famous guests who visited the Historic Sun Inn in Bethlehem in the 18th century reads like a “Who’s Who” of the American Revolution — George Washington, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Ethan Allen.

Read more: here