Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a polymath and American revolutionary. He grew up in a Puritan community in Boston. He admired native Americans’ way of conducting politics and spoke out when white settlers massacred them. He was also an opponent of slavery, and petitioned Congress to free enslaved people in 1790 – a fact that is often overlooked today, because it doesn’t “fit the narrative” that there were even influential people who knew slavery was evil over seven decades before it was finally abolished there.

Franklin was also a proponent of English spelling reform, and put forward his own proposal which replaced six of the letters from the Latin alphabet (c j q w x y) with six new ones to represent the vowels /ɒ~ɔː/ and /ʌ/, and the consonants /ʃ/, /ŋ/, /θ/ and /ð/. Four of the letters look like variations of “h”.

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