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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

(1706 - 1790)

Benjamin Franklin's interest in the scientific culture of the 18th century drew him into many positive acquaintances and associations. It was Franklin's friendship with Dr. Thomas Bond that inspired him to assist in the founding of Pennsylvania Hospital.

During the 18th century, Philadelphia was the largest English speaking city in the world except for London. Out of civic pride, Philadelphians thought they should have institutions equal to those of the mother country. The addition of a hospital to the city would also alleviate the colonists' dependence on the English medical establishment.

With Franklin's talent for popularizing an idea, funds were obtained from both the Pennsylvania legislature and private citizens in 1751; Franklin received a promise from the legislature to match whatever he collected from the public. This fundraising method, now known as a matching fund drive, was a new technique. Another fundraising idea of Franklin's was the sale of a promotional booklet, Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital (1756); this served as an early "development report" and came complete with a contribution form on the last page! Further financial service was rendered by Franklin when he assisted Dr. John Fothergill in obtaining an Act of British Parliament and a favorable decision of the Lord Chancellor of England - the Hospital was made a recipient of the proceeds from the defunct Pennsylvania Land Company. This act benefited the hospital by several thousand pounds.

In addition to his monetary contributions to Pennsylvania Hospital, Benjamin Franklin was also elected to and served on the Board of Managers of Pennsylvania Hospital from 1751 until his resignation in 1757. He was the first Secretary of the original Board, and its second President.

As a member of Pennsylvania General Assembly and afterwards as President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, Franklin was able, through his wide acquaintance and powerful influence, to assist the hospital in many ways. Up to the time of his death, April 17, 1790, he remained supportive of the hospital, which owes -- to a great extent -- its very existence to his efforts.

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