Bullet-Point Bio: Benjamin Franklin

-Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston Massachusetts.

-Benjamin’s parents sent him to the Boston Latin School for 2 years.  After two years, he was taken out of school because they didn’t have enough money to have him continue.  At age 12 he became an apprentice for his brother James, who was a printer.

-When his brother started The New-England Courant, Franklin was not allowed to submit a letter for publication in the paper.  He started using the pseudonym “Silence Dogood” to get his writings published.  His writings under this pseudonym were well-known around town and often discussed.

-At the age of 17, Benjamin went to Philadelphia looking for a new start.  He started working with several printers in town but was not happy with the work.  He worked with others until he decided to return to Philadelphia in 1726.

-Franklin was an avid reader and came up with the idea of a subscription library.  It was called The Library Company of Philadelphia.

-Franklin became the publisher of The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1728.  He gained much social respect through his publication.

-In 1732 Franklin published the first edition of his magazine Poor Richard’s Almanack.  It included a variety of topics covering the weather, poetry, witty sayings, etc.

-In the 1730s Franklin became a free mason and remained one for the rest of his life.  Click here to learn how free-masonry was different in the founding era from what it is today.

-Benjamin married Deborah Read and together they had two children.  Their first son, Francis Folger Franklin, died of smallpox at the age of 4.  Their daughter lived into adulthood and married Richard Bache.  They also raised Benjamin’s son from a previous relationship.

-Franklin invented the lightening rod, bifocal glasses, the glass harmonica, along with many other inventions.  He never patented any of his inventions and said the following regarding that: “… as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

-In 1748, Franklin became a member of the city council of Philadelphia.

-In 1752, when the French and Indian War started Franklin rallied together the colonies through the well-known picture of a cut apart snake captioned “Join or Die”.

-Then, in 1757, he was elected by the Pennsylvania Assembly to be the colony’s agent to England to solve several land disputes. Over the next 2 decades of his life he would spend much time in London.

-In 1764 he lost his seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly and became a full time agent between Pennsylvania and Great Britain.  Life was tense between the colonies and Great Britain as new taxes were being imposed.  Later he would become agents for Massachusetts, Georgia, and New Jersey as well.

-He was elected to the Second Continental Congress and appointed as the first postmaster general for the colonies in 1775.  Then in 1776 he was one of six men to help draft the Declaration of Independence.

-After signing The Declaration of Independence, he was elected as the first ambassador to France.

-On October 18, 1785, he was unanimously elected as the sixth president (or governor) of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania.  He held the office for a little over three years.

-In 1787 Franklin was elected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention.  At that convention he helped to draft and ratify the new US Constitution.

-Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790.  He was 84 years old.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”




Photo credit: Public Domain


Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Benjamin Franklin Biography

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