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Benjamin Franklin is coming to East Central University on Feb. 26 [TUESDAY].

The newspaperman, scientist, inventor, philosopher, politician and diplomat will be portrayed by Ralph Archbold, an internationally acclaimed speaker who is the official Ben Franklin for the city of Philadelphia.

The program is free to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in the Wagner Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union. It is sponsored by ECU's Center for Advancement of American History and the Teaching American History grants, which is providing funding for the presentation.

Archbold has been called the leading Franklin portrayer in the world and has addressed more than 10,000 audiences in a 30-year career. His variety of costumes from Franklin's era, his gestures, thought-provoking comments and genuine charm, plus such physical features as wispy, shoulder-length hair, are said to convince even the most avid historians that this is the true Franklin.

Franklin, who lived from 1706 to 1790, moved to Philadelphia in 1723 where he started a newspaper, published his famous almanac, invented such items as the Franklin stove and bifocals, founded the first circulating library in America and helped launch projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia.

He worked with Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence, served in the Continental Congress, represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and played a major role in creating the final document.

As the alias of the elder statesman, Archbold also was the primary spokesman for America's Constitutional Bicentennial Celebration. He has been featured as Ben in "200 Years of Benjamin Franklin's Genius" and is the official Ben Franklin for the University of Pennsylvania, Freedom's Foundation, and The Franklin Institute.

He also was appointed by the President and Congress to a 15-member federal commission that oversaw the celebration of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday on Jan. 17, 2006.

Archbold has appeared as Franklin on the History Channel, the Today Show, Good Morning America and the CBS Constitutional Gala, and in Time, USA Today, the New Yorker and New York Times.

He is one of only 128 speakers who have earned the highest honor from the National Speakers Association.

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