Franklin’s public career began when he organized Pennsylvania’s first volunteer militia during threatened attacks from Spanish and French ships.
He then proposed a general fast, which was approved by the Colony’s Council and printed in his Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 12, 1747: “As the calamities of a bloody War … seem every year more nearly to approach us … there is just reason to fear that unless we humble ourselves before the Lord & amend our Ways, we may be chastized with yet heavier Judgments, We have, therefore, thought fit … to appoint … a Day of Fasting & Prayer, exhorting all, both Ministers & People, to observe the same with becoming seriousness & attention, & to join with one accord in the most humble & fervent Supplications; That Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the Rage of War among the Nations & put a stop to the effusion of Christian Blood.”
Franklin published evangelist George Whitefield’s sermons, thereby spreading the Great Awakening revival. He established a volunteer fire department, a circulating public library, an insurance company, a city police force, a night watch and a hospital. He set up the lighting of city streets and was the first to suggest Daylight Savings Time. He invented bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, swim fins, the lightning rod and coined the electrical terms “positive” and “negative.”