It cannot be denied that Benjamin Franklin was a great man. He was a writer, a scientist, an inventor, and a diplomat. His experiments with lightning and electricity made him world famous. He also played an important role in our nation’s fight for independence. Yes, Ben Franklin was a great man, but how was he able accomplish all these things by himself? According to author Robert Lawson, Franklin may have had a little help in the form of a wise mouse named Amos.
“Since the recent death of my lamented friend…Ben Franklin,” Amos writes, “many so-called historians have attempted to write accounts of his life and his achievements. Most of these are wrong in so many respects that I feel the time has now come for me to take pen in paw and set things right…For many years I was his closest friend and adviser and, if I do say it, was in great part responsible for his success and fame.”
In Amos’ account, it is he who gives Franklin the idea to build the first indoor stove. In exchange for cheese and a warm home in his friend’s fur cap, Amos does not object to the human receiving all the credit for the invention of the “Franklin stove.” In addition, he plays a major role in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. If that isn’t enough history-making, while he is in Paris with Franklin, Amos manages to touch off a mouse-sized version of the French Revolution!
Despite all of his accomplishments, though, Amos’ source of pride is simply keeping Ben Franklin out of mischief. This is not always an easy task. Despite Amos’ objections, Franklin regularly went swimming. “[A] dangerous, unsanitary and barbarous custom,” complains the mouse, that one day leads to trouble. Then there is Franklin’s interest with lightning and electricity, two things that are “both annoying, horrid, dangerous nuisances that should be let strictly alone,” states Amos. Of course, the great inventor’s experiments cause problems (and singed fur) for the ever-patient mouse.
“Ben was undoubtedly a splendid fellow, a great man, a patriot and all that,” summarizes Amos after Franklin’s death, “but he was undeniably stupid at times, and had it not been for me-well, here’s the true story, and you can judge for yourself.”
In Ben and Me: an Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, find out the true story of a genius and patriot, and the man that he helps out.