Was Benjamin Franklin Deaf?

The short of it is no, Benjamin Franklin was not deaf and the picture above is of hard of hearing man in the 1800's. Then why do so many ask the question: Was Benjamin Franklin deaf? And is there evidence that he wasn't deaf? We think we have answers.

Why did I think Benjamin Franklin was deaf?

Benjamin Franklin was not deaf and this question might come from the confusion that the name Benjamin and the name Beethoven both start with a B. It’s a stretch, for sure, but Beethoven did have difficulty with hearing loss.

🤷 Sometimes figures in history are confused with others, especially if you were the type of person to try cramming every bit of information right before the big history test, and then leave it all by the wayside once the test was over. After a few of those, you bet your tuchus people’s stories are going to start bleeding into each other.

There are also some tidbits of information and small details of his life that may also lead to the belief he was deaf. This includes the fact that Benjamin Franklin wrote about various medical subjects, one of which was deafness. Another one of those bits of Benny Franklin trivia is that he learned a little bit of sign language. It was very cold as he was learning it, which made his hands shake making it difficult to sign properly, so what did he do? He invented the pot-bellied stove so he could keep his hands warm for sign language. Inventors, I tell ya. What an interesting bunch.

Is there evidence that he wasn’t deaf?

To start off, the man was very involved in politics, among many other things. You can imagine that engaging in a lively debate would have been very difficult in that time when hard of hearing accommodations were practically non-existent and you have to be able to hear your debate opponent in order to respond.

Another point to consider is that Benjamin Franklin was very well educated, having earned honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, University of Oxford, and the University of St. Andrews. Education for the hearing impaired didn’t start until the 1800s, so that would have been a very difficult feat. Granted, most of his degrees he earned by self-education, but the point stands that he would have needed his hearing to get this level of education.

He also spoke multiple languages. Fluently. That’s not easy to do if you can’t hear how words are supposed to be spoken. He was known to have engaged in some spoken arguments in France about the effects of night air or drafts on health. Can't argue if you can't hear, now, can you?

Beethoven was deaf

It’s quite a stretch to assume someone simply mistook Benjamin Franklin with Beethoven, but let’s roll with it. Beethoven is another prominent figure in history. Many people learned some trivia on Beethoven by watching cartoons and other media. And if something random like that rattles around in your brain for long enough, you’ll start to believe it of other people. Beethoven didn’t start off deaf, however, he went deaf over time. In his late 20s is when he started noticing that he had a little difficulty with his hearing, but he could still hear. It progressively got worse until somewhere in his mid-40s when he was completely deaf and would have been unable to hold a conversation if it wasn’t for simple pieces of paper he would write on to communicate with others.

About the Authors picture
We love researching weird and interesting topics everyday. We then write what we find out in short articles that get rid of all the fluff and leave only the most relevant information to answer your question. 
Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy
Weird Known Fact ® 2022 All Rights Reserved.