Benjamin Franklin
American printer, writer, politician
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity.
Biography
Benjamin Franklin's personal information overview.
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College tuition: Learning's steep curve - HeraldNet (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Benjamin Franklin talked of two certainties in life: death and taxes. Add tuition hikes to the list. The cost of attending college -- be it public, private, two-year, four-year or online -- is going up every year. Never down
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Homes still pay on the Cote d'Azur - CITY A.M.
Google News - over 5 years
WHAT with European economic chaos, earthquakes and hurricanes pummelling the US and the most valuable company in the world losing its CEO, one rather can't help but recall Benjamin Franklin's saying: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain,
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History Made Personal: book from Benjamin Franklin's personal library - The Unionville Times
Google News - over 5 years
An actual book from Benjamin Franklin's personal library — part of the permanent collection at the Sanderson Museum. One of the best known and loved of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was a
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Tree DNA tests prove that Benjamin Franklin isn't ruining the Gulf Coast - io9
Google News - over 5 years
And, until now, people figured it was that big jerk Benjamin Franklin's fault. While Franklin was living in Europe, he arranged to have some of these tallow trees shipped to friends of his in Georgia. Franklin and his business partners were intrigued
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Los Angeles Gallery Features Amazing 'Harry Potter' Fan Art - Yidio TV & Movie News
Google News - over 5 years
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "In this world only three things are certain: death, taxes, and fan art." Whenever there is a cultural phenomenon on the level of Harry Potter, you can bet that fans will be making art inspired by it
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Fixing the one dumb thing done by Benjamin Franklin - Mother Nature Network
Google News - over 5 years
FOUNDING FATHER: The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial inside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Penn. (Photo: MikeParker/Flickr) I used to feel like an underachiever on the Fourth of July. Somehow my day of parade going, book reading,
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Benjamin Franklin and Hurricanes: the answer to our Hurricane trivia question - WNCT
Google News - over 5 years
On Wednesday?s Morning Edition we asked which element of hurricane science did Benjamin Franklin NOT study extensively? (more) By Gannon Medwick GREENVILLE, NC – On Wednesday's Morning Edition we asked which element of hurricane science did Benjamin
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Massillon resident brings Benjamin Franklin to life - Massillon Independent
Google News - over 5 years
Wise eyes framed by wire-rimmed spectacles, look back at Dennis Harbert when he peers into the looking glass — the eyes of a ghost of a Fourth of July past. The eyes, of course, are Harbert's own, but they sparkle with passion and
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Briefly... CITY/REGION | Philadelphia Daily News | 2011-07-01 - Philadelphia Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
Just in time for Fourth of July holiday weekend travel, tolls on the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry bridges are being raised to $5 for cars and small trucks. The Delaware River Port Authority raised tolls at 2 this
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Barnes Collection Readies for Move to New Home by Williams/Tsien - Architectural Record
Google News - over 5 years
The new Barnes, now under construction on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway, has an internal court topped with an etched glass canopy. Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it?
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Barnes passes $200m mark for new home | Philadelphia Inquirer | 2011-06-28 - Philadelphia Inquirer
Google News - over 5 years
The Barnes Foundation announced today that it has surpassed the $200 million fund-raising target for construction of its new facility on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The foundation, which has struggled financially
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Benjamin Franklin
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1790
    Age 84
    Benjamin Franklin died from pleuritic attack at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790, at age 84.
    More Details Hide Details Approximately 20,000 people attended his funeral. He was interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. In 1728, aged 22, Franklin wrote what he hoped would be his own epitaph: The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author. Franklin's actual grave, however, as he specified in his final will, simply reads "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin". In 1773, when Franklin's work had moved from printing to science and politics, he corresponded with a French scientist, Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, on the subject of preserving the dead for later revival by more advanced scientific methods, writing:
  • 1787
    Age 81
    Franklin suffered from obesity throughout his middle-aged and later years, which resulted in multiple health problems, particularly gout, which worsened as he aged. In poor health during the signing of the US Constitution in 1787, he was rarely seen in public from then until his death.
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    Franklin, however, refused to publicly debate the issue of slavery at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin tended to take both sides of the issue of slavery, never fully divesting himself from the institution.
    Moreover, because of his proposal that prayers be said in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, many have contended that in his later life Franklin became a pious Christian.
    More Details Hide Details At one point, he wrote to Thomas Paine, criticizing his manuscript, The Age of Reason: If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. According to David Morgan, Franklin was a proponent of religion in general. He prayed to "Powerful Goodness" and referred to God as "the infinite". John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: "The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker." Whatever else Franklin was, concludes Morgan, "he was a true champion of generic religion." In a letter to Richard Price, Franklin stated that he believed that religion should support itself without help from the government, claiming, "When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig'd to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
    It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:
    More Details Hide Details In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. – Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor.... And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance. I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel:... I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
    In that capacity he served as host to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.
    More Details Hide Details Like the other advocates of republicanism, Franklin emphasized that the new republic could survive only if the people were virtuous. All his life he explored the role of civic and personal virtue, as expressed in Poor Richard's aphorisms. Franklin felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended religious services himself. When Franklin met Voltaire in Paris and asked his fellow member of the Enlightenment vanguard to bless his grandson, Voltaire said in English, "God and Liberty", and added, "this is the only appropriate benediction for the grandson of Monsieur Franklin." Franklin's parents were both pious Puritans. The family attended the Old South Church, the most liberal Puritan congregation in Boston, where Benjamin Franklin was baptized in 1706. Franklin's father, a poor chandler, owned a copy of a book, Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good, by the Puritan preacher and family friend Cotton Mather, which Franklin often cited as a key influence on his life. Franklin's first pen name, Silence Dogood, paid homage both to the book and to a widely known sermon by Mather. The book preached the importance of forming voluntary associations to benefit society. Franklin learned about forming do-good associations from Cotton Mather, but his organizational skills made him the most influential force in making voluntarism an enduring part of the American ethos.
  • 1785
    Age 79
    Shortly after his initial election he was reelected to a full term on October 29, 1785, and again in the fall of 1786 and on October 31, 1787.
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    Special balloting conducted October 18, 1785, unanimously elected Franklin the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, replacing John Dickinson.
    More Details Hide Details The office was practically that of governor. Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the constitutional limit of three full terms.
    When he returned home in 1785, Franklin occupied a position only second to that of George Washington as the champion of American independence.
    More Details Hide Details Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Duplessis, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. After his return, Franklin became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves. He eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. In 1787, Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. He held an honorary position and seldom engaged in debate. He is the only Founding Father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris and the United States Constitution. In 1787, a group of prominent ministers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, proposed the foundation of a new college named in Franklin's honor. Franklin donated £200 towards the development of Franklin College (now called Franklin & Marshall College).
  • 1783
    Age 77
    On December 1, 1783, Franklin was seated in the special enclosure for honoured guests when La Charlière took off from the Jardin des Tuileries, piloted by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert.
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    On August 27, 1783, in Paris, Franklin witnessed the world's first hydrogen balloon flight.
    More Details Hide Details Le Globe, created by professor Jacques Charles and Les Frères Robert, was watched by a vast crowd as it rose from the Champ de Mars (now the site of the Eiffel Tower). This so enthused Franklin that he subscribed financially to the next project to build a manned hydrogen balloon.
    Franklin also served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country. He negotiated a treaty that was signed in April 1783.
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  • 1781
    Age 75
    In 1781, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin's advocacy for religious tolerance in France contributed to arguments made by French philosophers and politicians that resulted in Louis XVI's signing of the Edict of Versailles in November 1787. This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleau, which had denied non-Catholics civil status and the right to openly practice their faith.
  • 1779
    Age 73
    During his stay in France, Benjamin Franklin was active as a Freemason, serving as Venerable Master of the Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs from 1779 until 1781.
    More Details Hide Details He was the 106th member of the Lodge. In 1784, when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of "animal magnetism" which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it. These included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, the physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly, and Benjamin Franklin.
  • 1778
    Age 72
    He conducted the affairs of his country toward the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in 1778 and negotiating the Treaty of Paris (1783).
    More Details Hide Details Among his associates in France was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau—a French Revolutionary writer, orator and statesman who in early 1791 would be elected president of the National Assembly. In July 1784, Franklin met with Mirabeau and contributed anonymous materials that the Frenchman used in his first signed work: Considerations sur l'ordre de Cincinnatus. The publication was critical of the Society of the Cincinnati, established in the United States. Franklin and Mirabeau thought of it as a "noble order", inconsistent with the egalitarian ideals of the new republic.
  • 1776
    Age 70
    In December 1776, Franklin was dispatched to France as commissioner for the United States.
    More Details Hide Details He took with him as secretary his 16-year-old grandson, William Temple Franklin. They lived in a home in the Parisian suburb of Passy, donated by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, who supported the United States. Franklin remained in France until 1785.
  • 1775
    Age 69
    On July 26, 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, the first appointed under the Continental Congress.
    More Details Hide Details It established a postal system that became the United States Post Office, a system that continues to operate today.
    On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position. He had just returned from England and was appointed chairman of a Committee of Investigation to establish a postal system. The report of the Committee, providing for the appointment of a postmaster general for the 13 American colonies, was considered by the Continental Congress on July 25 and 26.
    By the time Franklin arrived in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, after his second mission to Great Britain, the American Revolution had begun – with fighting between colonials and British at Lexington and Concord.
    More Details Hide Details The New England militia had trapped the main British army in Boston. The Pennsylvania Assembly unanimously chose Franklin as their delegate to the Second Continental Congress. In June 1776, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several "small but important" changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson. At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by Hancock that they must all hang together: "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."
    He returned to Philadelphia in March 1775, and abandoned his accommodationist stance.
    More Details Hide Details In 1763, soon after Franklin returned to Pennsylvania from England for the first time, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac's Rebellion. The Paxton Boys, a group of settlers convinced that the Pennsylvania government was not doing enough to protect them from American Indian raids, murdered a group of peaceful Susquehannock Indians and marched on Philadelphia. Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob. He met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse. Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice of the Paxton Boys. "If an Indian injures me", he asked, "does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?" He provided an early response to British surveillance through his own network of counter-surveillance and manipulation. "He waged a public relations campaign, secured secret aid, played a role in privateering expeditions, and churned out effective and inflammatory propaganda."
  • 1774
    Age 68
    While he was living in London in 1774, he was present at the birth of British Unitarianism, attending the inaugural session of the Essex Street Chapel, at which Theophilus Lindsey drew together the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in England; this was somewhat politically risky, and pushed religious tolerance to new boundaries, as a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity was illegal until the 1813 Act.
    More Details Hide Details Although Franklin's parents had intended for him to have a career in the Church, Franklin as a young man adopted the Enlightenment religious belief in deism, that God's truths can be found entirely through nature and reason. "I soon became a thorough Deist." As a young man he rejected Christian dogma in a 1725 pamphlet A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain, which he later saw as an embarrassment, while simultaneously asserting that God is "all wise, all good, all powerful." He defended his rejection of religious dogma with these words: "I think opinions should be judged by their influences and effects; and if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded that he holds none that are dangerous, which I hope is the case with me." After the disillusioning experience of seeing the decay in his own moral standards, and those of two friends in London whom he had converted to Deism, Franklin turned back to a belief in the importance of organized religion, on the pragmatic grounds that without God and organized churches, man will not be good.
    Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, 1774.
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    Deborah Read Franklin died of a stroke in 1774, while Franklin was on an extended mission to England; he returned in 1775.
    More Details Hide Details In 1730, at the age of 24, Franklin publicly acknowledged the existence of William, his son, who was deemed 'illegitimate' as he was born out of wedlock, and raised him in his household. His mother's identity is not known. He was educated in Philadelphia. Beginning at about age 30, William studied law in London in the early 1760s. He fathered an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, born February 22, 1762. The boy's mother was never identified, and he was placed in foster care. Franklin later that year married Elizabeth Downes, daughter of a planter from Barbados. After William passed the bar, his father helped him gain an appointment in 1763 as the last Royal Governor of New Jersey. A Loyalist, William and his father eventually broke relations over their differences about the American Revolutionary War. The elder Franklin could never accept William's position. Deposed in 1776 by the revolutionary government of New Jersey, William was arrested at his home in Perth Amboy at the Proprietary House and imprisoned for a time. The younger Franklin went to New York in 1782, which was still occupied by British troops. He became leader of the Board of Associated Loyalists — a quasi-military organization, headquartered in New York City. They initiated guerrilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city. When British troops evacuated from New York, William Franklin left with them and sailed to England.
  • 1773
    Age 67
    In June 1773 Franklin obtained private letters of Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, that proved they were encouraging the Crown to crack down on the rights of Bostonians.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin sent them to America, where they escalated the tensions. The British began to regard him as the fomenter of serious trouble.
    In 1773, Franklin published two of his most celebrated pro-American satirical essays: "Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One", and "An Edict by the King of Prussia".
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  • 1770
    Age 64
    By 1770, Franklin had freed his slaves and attacked the system of slavery and the international slave trade.
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  • 1769
    Age 63
    He organised and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin became a national hero in America when, as an agent for several colonies, he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts to secure support for the American Revolution by shipments of crucial munitions proved vital for the American war effort. He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. After the Revolution he became the first US Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs, colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. Although he initially owned and dealt in slaves, by the 1750s he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1766
    Age 60
    One line of argument in Parliament was that Americans should pay a share of the costs of the French and Indian War, and that therefore taxes should be levied on them. Franklin became the American spokesman in highly publicized testimony in Parliament in 1766.
    More Details Hide Details He stated that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire. He said local governments had raised, outfitted and paid 25,000 soldiers to fight France—as many as Britain itself sent—and spent many millions from American treasuries doing so in the French and Indian War alone.
    Franklin spent two months in German lands in 1766, but his connections to the country stretched across a lifetime.
    More Details Hide Details He declared a debt of gratitude to German scientist Otto von Guericke for his early studies of electricity. Franklin also co-authored the first treaty of friendship between Prussia and America in 1785. In September 1767, Franklin visited Paris with his usual traveling partner, Sir John Pringle. News of his electrical discoveries was widespread in France. His reputation meant that he was introduced to many influential scientists and politicians, and also to King Louis XV.
  • 1765
    Age 59
    In London, Franklin opposed the 1765 Stamp Act.
    More Details Hide Details Unable to prevent its passage, he made another political miscalculation and recommended a friend to the post of stamp distributor for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians were outraged, believing that he had supported the measure all along, and threatened to destroy his home in Philadelphia. Franklin soon learned of the extent of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act, and he testified during the House of Commons proceedings that led to its repeal. With this, Franklin suddenly emerged as the leading spokesman for American interests in England. He wrote popular essays on behalf of the colonies. Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts also appointed him as their agent to the Crown. Franklin lodged in a house in Craven Street, just off The Strand in central London. During his stays there, he developed a close friendship with his landlady, Margaret Stevenson, and her circle of friends and relations, in particular her daughter Mary, who was more often known as Polly. Their house, which he used on various lengthy missions from 1757 to 1775, is the only one of his residences to survive. It opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House museum in 2006.
  • 1764
    Age 58
    Because of these fears, and because of political attacks on his character, Franklin lost his seat in the October 1764 Assembly elections.
    More Details Hide Details The anti-proprietary party dispatched Franklin to England again to continue the struggle against the Penn family proprietorship. During this trip, events drastically changed the nature of his mission.
    At this time, many members of the Pennsylvania Assembly were feuding with William Penn's heirs, who controlled the colony as proprietors. After his return to the colony, Franklin led the "anti-proprietary party" in the struggle against the Penn family, and was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House in May 1764.
    More Details Hide Details His call for a change from proprietary to royal government was a rare political miscalculation, however: Pennsylvanians worried that such a move would endanger their political and religious freedoms.
  • 1757
    Age 51
    In 1757, he was sent to England by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a colonial agent to protest against the political influence of the Penn family, the proprietors of the colony.
    More Details Hide Details He remained there for five years, striving to end the proprietors' prerogative to overturn legislation from the elected Assembly, and their exemption from paying taxes on their land. His lack of influential allies in Whitehall led to the failure of this mission.
  • FORTIES
  • 1756
    Age 50
    In 1756, Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia (see "Associated Regiment of Philadelphia" under heading of Pennsylvania's 103rd Artillery and 111th Infantry Regiment at Continental Army).
    More Details Hide Details He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Native American uprisings that beset the American colonies. Reportedly Franklin was elected "Colonel" of the Associated Regiment but declined the honor. From the mid 1750s to the mid 1770s, Franklin spent much of his time in London. Officially he was there on a political mission, but he used his time to further his scientific explorations as well, meeting many notable people.
  • 1754
    Age 48
    In 1754, he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress.
    More Details Hide Details This meeting of several colonies had been requested by the Board of Trade in England to improve relations with the Indians and defense against the French. Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union for the colonies. While the plan was not adopted, elements of it found their way into the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
    Johnson went on to found King's College (now Columbia University) in New York City in 1754, while Franklin hired Smith as Provost of the College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1755.
    More Details Hide Details At its first commencement, on May 17, 1757, seven men graduated; six with a Bachelor of Arts and one as Master of Arts. It was later merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to become the University of Pennsylvania. The College was to become influential in guiding the founding documents of the United States: in the Continental Congress, for example, over one third of the college-affiliated men who contributed the Declaration of Independence between September 4, 1774, and July 4, 1776, were affiliated with the College. In 1753, both Harvard and Yale awarded him honorary degrees.
  • 1753
    Age 47
    In June 1753, Johnson, Franklin, and Smith met in Stratford.
    More Details Hide Details They decided the new-model college would focus on the professions, with classes taught in English instead of Latin, have subject matter experts as professors instead of one tutor leading a class for four years, and there would be no religious test for admission.
  • 1752
    Age 46
    Franklin solicited, printed in 1752, and promoted an American textbook of moral philosophy from the American Dr. Samuel Johnson titled Elementa Philosophica to be taught in the new colleges to replace courses in denominational divinity.
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  • 1751
    Age 45
    He pioneered and was first president of the The Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania.
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  • 1750
    Age 44
    Between 1750 and 1753, the "educational triumvirate" of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the American Dr. Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut, and the immigrant Scottish schoolteacher Dr. William Smith built on Franklin's initial scheme and created what Bishop James Madison, president of the College of William & Mary, called a "new-model" plan or style of American college.
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  • 1749
    Age 43
    He was appointed president of the Academy on November 13, 1749; the Academy and the Charity School opened on August 13, 1751.
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  • 1748
    Age 42
    Franklin became involved in Philadelphia politics and rapidly progressed. In October 1748, he was selected as a councilman, in June 1749 he became a Justice of the Peace for Philadelphia, and in 1751 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly.
    More Details Hide Details On August 10, 1753, Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster-general of British North America, (see below). His most notable service in domestic politics was his reform of the postal system, with mail sent out every week. In 1751, Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital in what was to become the United States of America.
  • 1747
    Age 41
    In 1747, Franklin (already a very wealthy man) retired from printing and went into other businesses.
    More Details Hide Details He created a partnership with his foreman, David Hall, which provided Franklin with half of the shop's profits for 18 years. This lucrative business arrangement provided leisure time for study, and in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with educated persons throughout Europe and especially in France.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1746
    Age 40
    For three decades Franklin maintained a close business relationship with her and her son Peter who took over in 1746. The Gazette had a policy of impartiality in political debates, while creating the opportunity for public debate, which encouraged others to challenge authority. Editor Peter Timothy avoided blandness and crude bias, and after 1765 increasingly took a patriotic stand in the growing crisis with Great Britain.
    More Details Hide Details However, Franklin's Connecticut Gazette (1755–68) proved unsuccessful.
  • 1745
    Age 39
    "Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress" is a letter written by Benjamin Franklin, dated June 25, 1745, in which Franklin gives advice to a young man about channeling sexual urges.
    More Details Hide Details Due to its licentious nature, the letter was not published in collections of Franklin's papers during the nineteenth century. Federal court decisions from the mid-to-late twentieth century cited the document as a reason for overturning obscenity laws, using it to make a case against censorship. "The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin and the Age of Enlightenment" exhibition opened in Philadelphia in February 2006 and ran through December 2006. Benjamin Franklin and Dashkova met only once, in Paris in 1781. Franklin was 75 and Dashkova was 37. Franklin invited Dashkova to become the first woman to join the American Philosophical Society; she was the only woman so honored for another 80 years. Later, Dashkova reciprocated by making him the first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. As a founding father of the United States, Franklin's name has been attached to many things. Among these are:
  • 1743
    Age 37
    In 1743, Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories.
    More Details Hide Details He began the electrical research that, along with other scientific inquiries, would occupy him for the rest of his life, in between bouts of politics and moneymaking.
    As he matured, Franklin began to concern himself more with public affairs. In 1743, he first devised a scheme for The Academy, Charity School, and College of Philadelphia.
    More Details Hide Details However, the person he had in mind to run the academy, Rev. Richard Peters, refused and Franklin put his ideas away until 1749, when he printed his own pamphlet, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania.
  • 1737
    Age 31
    Well known as a printer and publisher, Franklin was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, holding the office until 1753, when he and publisher William Hunter were named deputy postmasters–general of British North America, the first to hold the office. (Joint appointments were standard at the time, for political reasons.) Franklin was responsible for the British colonies as far as the island of Newfoundland, opening Canada's first post office at Halifax, Nova Scotia, while Hunter became postal administrator in Williamsburg, Virginia and oversaw areas south of Annapolis, Maryland. Franklin reorganized the service's accounting system, then improved speed of delivery between Philadelphia, New York and Boston. By 1761, efficiencies lead to the first profits for the colonial post office.
    More Details Hide Details When the lands of New France were ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the new British province of Quebec was created among them, and Franklin saw mail service expanded between Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, and New York. For the greater part of his appointment, Franklin lived in England (from 1757 to 1762, and again from 1764 to 1774) – about three-quarters of his term. Eventually, his sympathies for the rebel cause in the American Revolution led to his dismissal on January 31, 1774.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1736
    Age 30
    In 1736, Franklin created the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, he printed a new currency for New Jersey based on innovative anti-counterfeiting techniques he had devised. Throughout his career, Franklin was an advocate for paper money, publishing A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency in 1729, and his printer printed money. He was influential in the more restrained and thus successful monetary experiments in the Middle Colonies, which stopped deflation without causing excessive inflation. In 1766 he made a case for paper money to the British House of Commons.
  • 1733
    Age 27
    Franklin was an avid chess player. He was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies.
    More Details Hide Details His essay on "The Morals of Chess" in Columbian magazine in December 1786 is the second known writing on chess in America. This essay in praise of chess and prescribing a code of behavior for the game has been widely reprinted and translated. He and a friend also used chess as a means of learning the Italian language, which both were studying; the winner of each game between them had the right to assign a task, such as parts of the Italian grammar to be learned by heart, to be performed by the loser before their next meeting. Franklin was able to play chess more frequently against stronger opposition during his many years as a civil servant and diplomat in England, where the game was far better established than in America. He was able to improve his playing standard by facing more experienced players during this period. He regularly attended Old Slaughter's Coffee House in London for chess and socializing, making many important personal contacts. While in Paris, both as a visitor and later as ambassador, he visited the famous Café de la Régence, which France's strongest players made their regular meeting place. No records of his games have survived, so it is not possible to ascertain his playing strength in modern terms.
    In 1733, Franklin began to publish the noted Poor Richard's Almanack (with content both original and borrowed) under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, on which much of his popular reputation is based.
    More Details Hide Details Franklin frequently wrote under pseudonyms. Although it was no secret that Franklin was the author, his Richard Saunders character repeatedly denied it. "Poor Richard's Proverbs", adages from this almanac, such as "A penny saved is twopence dear" (often misquoted as "A penny saved is a penny earned") and "Fish and visitors stink in three days", remain common quotations in the modern world. Wisdom in folk society meant the ability to provide an apt adage for any occasion, and Franklin's readers became well prepared. He sold about ten thousand copies per year—it became an institution. In 1741 Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America, the first such monthly magazine of this type published in America. In 1758, the year he ceased writing for the Almanack, he printed Father Abraham's Sermon, also known as The Way to Wealth. Franklin's autobiography, begun in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the classics of the genre.
  • 1732
    Age 26
    The first, Francis Folger Franklin, born October 1732, died of smallpox in 1736.
    More Details Hide Details Their second child, Sarah Franklin, familiarly called Sally, was born in 1743. She eventually married Richard Bache, had seven children, and cared for her father in his old age. Deborah's fear of the sea meant that she never accompanied Franklin on any of his extended trips to Europe, despite his repeated requests. She wrote to him in November 1769 saying she was ill due to "dissatisfied distress" from his prolonged absence, but he did not return until his business was done.
  • 1731
    Age 25
    In 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic Lodge.
    More Details Hide Details He became Grand Master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania. That same year, he edited and published the first Masonic book in the Americas, a reprint of James Anderson's Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life. In 1723, at the age of 17, Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read while a boarder in the Read home. At that time, Read's mother was wary of allowing her young daughter to marry Franklin, who was on his way to London at Governor Sir William Keith's request, and also because of his financial instability. Her own husband had recently died, and Mrs. Read declined Franklin's request to marry her daughter. While Franklin was in London, his trip was extended, and there were problems with Sir William's promises of support. Perhaps because of the circumstances of this delay, Deborah married a man named John Rodgers. This proved to be a regrettable decision. Rodgers shortly avoided his debts and prosecution by fleeing to Barbados with her dowry, leaving Deborah behind. Rodgers's fate was unknown, and because of bigamy laws, Deborah was not free to remarry.
    Franklin had mixed success in his plan to establish an inter-colonial network of newspapers that would produce a profit for him and disseminate virtue. He began in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1731.
    More Details Hide Details After the second editor died, his widow Elizabeth Timothy took over and made it a success, 1738–46. She was one of the colonial era's first woman printers.
    This did not suffice, however. Franklin conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731.
    More Details Hide Details In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library.
  • 1730
    Age 24
    Franklin established a common-law marriage with Deborah Read on September 1, 1730.
    More Details Hide Details They took in Franklin's young, recently acknowledged illegitimate son, William, and raised him in their household. In addition, they had two children together.
  • 1729
    Age 23
    The series of essays called "The Busy-Body", which he wrote for Bradford's American Mercury in 1729, followed the general Addisonian form, already modified to suit homelier conditions.
    More Details Hide Details The thrifty Patience, in her busy little shop, complaining of the useless visitors who waste her valuable time, is related to the ladies who address Mr. Spectator. The Busy-Body himself is a true Censor Morum, as Isaac Bickerstaff had been in the Tatler. And a number of the fictitious characters, Ridentius, Eugenius, Cato, and Cretico, represent traditional 18th-century classicism. Even this Franklin could use for contemporary satire, since Cretico, the "sowre Philosopher", is evidently a portrait of Franklin's rival, Samuel Keimer. As time went on, Franklin depended less on his literary conventions, and more on his own native humor. In this there is a new spirit—not suggested to him by the fine breeding of Addison, or the bitter irony of Swift, or the stinging completeness of Pope. The brilliant little pieces Franklin wrote for his Pennsylvania Gazette have an imperishable place in American literature.
  • 1728
    Age 22
    Upon Denham's death, Franklin returned to his former trade. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredith; the following year he became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette.
    More Details Hide Details The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations. Over time, his commentary, and his adroit cultivation of a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man, earned him a great deal of social respect. But even after Franklin had achieved fame as a scientist and statesman, he habitually signed his letters with the unpretentious 'B. Franklin, Printer.' In 1732, Ben Franklin published the first German language newspaper in America – Die Philadelphische Zeitung – although it failed after only one year, because four other newly founded German papers quickly dominated the newspaper market. Franklin printed Moravian religious books in German. Franklin often visited Bethlehem staying at the Moravian Sun Inn. In a 1751 pamphlet on demographic growth and its implications for the colonies, he called the Pennsylvania Germans "Palatine Boors" who could never acquire the "Complexion" of the English settlers and to "Blacks and Tawneys" as weakening the social structure of the colonies. Although Franklin apparently reconsidered shortly thereafter, and the phrases were omitted from all later printings of the pamphlet, his views may have played a role in his political defeat in 1764.
  • 1727
    Age 21
    In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community."
    More Details Hide Details The Junto was a discussion group for issues of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia. The Junto was modeled after English coffeehouses that Franklin knew well, and which should become the center of the spread of Enlightenment ideas in Britain. Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library initially assembled from their own books after Franklin wrote:
  • TEENAGE
  • 1726
    Age 20
    Following this, he returned to Philadelphia in 1726 with the help of Thomas Denham, a merchant who employed Franklin as clerk, shopkeeper, and bookkeeper in his business.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1722
    Age 16
    When his brother was jailed for three weeks in 1722 for publishing material unflattering to the governor, young Franklin took over the newspaper and had Mrs. Dogood (quoting Cato's Letters) proclaim: "Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech."
    More Details Hide Details Franklin left his apprenticeship without his brother's permission, and in so doing became a fugitive. At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city. When he first arrived, he worked in several printer shops around town, but he was not satisfied by the immediate prospects. After a few months, while working in a printing house, Franklin was convinced by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London, ostensibly to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith's promises of backing a newspaper empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer's shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in the Smithfield area of London.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1706
    Age 0
    Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, and baptized at Old South Meeting House.
    More Details Hide Details He was one of seventeen children born to Josiah Franklin, and one of ten born by Josiah's second wife, Abiah Folger; the daughter of Peter Foulger and Mary Morrill. Among Benjamin's siblings were his older brother James and his younger sister Jane. Josiah wanted Ben to attend school with the clergy, but only had enough money to send him to school for two years. He attended Boston Latin School but did not graduate; he continued his education through voracious reading. Although "his parents talked of the church as a career" for Franklin, his schooling ended when he was ten. He worked for his father for a time, and at 12 he became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade. When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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