A Celebration of Benjamin Franklin:
The Year 1706 and Other Events of that Era
By Richard Kithil, President & CEO, NLSI
Please join me in a toast to Benjamin Franklin: printer, author, scientist,
statesman, diplomat, inventor, and philanthropist, born on Milk Street
- Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706.
- Other notables who were born same year included:
- John Baskerville, English printer and creator of typeface bearing
his name. (Jan. 28)
- Giovanni Martini, Italian composer and music theorist (April 24).
- John Dolland, English maker of optical and astronomic instruments,
made possible the first measurement of the sun's diameter (June 10).
- Gabrielle-Emille Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Chatelet. French
mathematician and physicist. Mistress of Voltaire (Dec. 17).
- Queen Anne's war (1702-1713) was continuing in the colonies
with French and Indian raids on Charleston SC in 1706. At war's end,
England got most of France's Canadian territory (Treaty of Utrecht,
- In Europe, Portugal invaded Spain in 1706 in the War of
the Spanish Succession. (1701-1714) Portuguese troops occupied Madrid,
holding it for four months before being driven out. In 1706, The Duke
of Marlboro defeated Duc de Villeroi's forces at the Battle of Ramillies.
Austrians, under Prince Eugene, defeated the French at Turin in 1706,
virtually ending the French war effort in Italy. In the Great Northern
War, Swedes invaded and defeated Saxony. (Gibralter was captured by
the English from the French in 1704.)
- In 1703 the construction of Buckingham Palace commences.
- In 1704, scientist Isaac Newton publishes "OPTICS",
propounding the corpuscular theory of light and explains his "Method
of Fluxions" a.k.a calculus.
- The use of jewels in watch movements is introduced this
- in 1705, Edmund Halley predicts the return of the 1682
comet will occur 76 years later. It does return on Christmas Day 1758.
- The Danish astronomer Olaus Roemer issues a new star catalog
- In 1707 England and Scotland are formally united.
- In 1709 British ironmaster Abraham Darby uses coked coal
to smelt iron at Coalbrookedale, Shropshire, pioneering a new technique.
- In 1710, engraver J.C. Lee from Germany invents the three
color printing process.
- In 1712, another ironmonger,Thomas Newcomen, invents an
early steam engine.
- In 1714, the German Gabriel Fahrenheit develops a mercury
- In music, during the early 1700s, the first clarinet is
developed in Nuerenberg; the slide trumpet is invented in England; the
Florentine harpsicord-maker Bartolomeo Christofori builds the first
- The Presbyterian church is established in America in 1706
by the Irishman Francis Makemie. Clemet XI is Pope; Thomas Tenison is
Archbishop of Canterbury; the Philadelphia Baptist Association is established
- The early 1700's saw the Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek
investigate the "toothworm," popularly believed the cause
of cavities. Using his microscope, he finds that worms lodged in cavities
came from eating worm-infested overripe cheese. The Chinese invented
the modern toothbrush, with bristles at right angles to the handle,
- It wasnt until 1726 that blood pressure was successfully
measured (on a horse), and the first successful appendectomy was ten
years after that in 1736.
- In Tokyo, Japan a 1703 earthquake kills 200,000 people.
1707 was the last eruption of Mt. Fuji.
- Franklin's birthday is commemorated each year at graveside
by the Poor Richard Club. In 1728 Franklin wrote a premature epitaph
for himself which first appeared in print in 1771 in Ames' Almanac:
"The body of Benjamin Franklin/printer, like an old
book, its contents torn out. And stripped of its lettering and gilding,
lies here. Food for worms. But the work shall not be lost. It will
(as he believed) appear once more, in a new and more beautiful edition,
corrected and amended by the Author."