Benjamin Franklin's been a hero of mine since I was a kid. My parents bought me a comicbook of his life and times (I swear) and he's been my idol ever since. I came this close to naming my son after him, but we decided on Alex instead... but if the next one's a boy, I'm pretty sure he'll be a Ben. Ben Beattie... you could be president with a name like that. ;-)
MetaFilter has a post about a group that Ben was a part of which I didn't know about before:
Ben Franklin was a member of a dinner club that evolved into a sort of secret society, think tank called The Junto. That group met every Friday from November, 1727 for several decades. Out of those meetings, the group invented the first subscription library in north america, the most advanced volunteer fire department of the time, the first public hospital in Pennsylvania, an insurance company, a constabulary, improved streetlights, paving and what became the University of Pennsylvania.