A Quick Biography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. His father intended for Benjamin to enter the clergy, but couldn’t afford to send him to school. Benjamin helped his brother James, who was a printer, by composing pamphlets and setting type.

Benjamin decided to run away to Philadelphia when he was 17. Franklin borrowed some money and set himself up in the printing business. Franklin worked all the time, and the citizens of Philadelphia began to notice the diligent young businessman. Soon he began getting government contracts and his business grew.

Benjamin married his childhood sweetheart, Deborah Read. The Franklins ran their own store, with Deborah selling everything from soap to fabric. Ben also ran a bookstore. They were quite enterprising.

In 1729, Benjamin bought a newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, which became the most successful newspaper in the colonies. He was a very busy man socially. In 1733, he started publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack. It contained things like weather reports, recipes, predictions, and homilies.

Franklin helped launch projects to pave, clean, and light Philadelphia streets. He organized Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company, the first in the city.

By 1749 he retired from business and started concentrating on science, experiments, and inventions. In 1743, he had already invented a heat-efficient stove—called the Franklin Stove. In the early 1750’s he began to study electricity.

In the 1750s he became interested in politics. He went to England in 1757 to represent Pennsylvania in its fight with the descendants of the Penn family over who should represent the colony. In his time abroad, Franklin considered himself a loyal Englishman. England had many of the amenities that America lacked. The country also had fine thinkers and theater.

Franklin came home. He started working actively for Independence. He was elected to the Second Continental Congress and he helped to draft the Declaration for Independence.

In 1776 Franklin signed the Declaration, and then sailed to France as an ambassador. The French loved Franklin. He was the man who had tamed lightning, a humble American who dressed like a backwoodsman, but a match for any wit in the world.

Partly because of Franklin's popularity, the government of France signed a Treaty of Alliance with the Americans in 1778. Franklin also helped secure loans from France. Franklin was at the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783,which ended the Revolutionary War.

In his late seventies, Franklin returned to America. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. One of his last public acts was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.

Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84.

Source: A Quick Biography of Benjamin Franklin
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