For other uses, see Benjamin Franklin (disambiguation) and Franklin (disambiguation).
|6th President of Pennsylvania|
October 18, 1785 – November 5, 1788
|Vice President||Charles Biddle|
|Preceded by||John Dickinson|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Mifflin|
|United States Minister to Sweden|
September 28, 1782 – April 3, 1783
|Appointed by||Congress of the Confederation|
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Succeeded by||Jonathan Russell|
|United States Minister to France|
September 14, 1778 – May 17, 1785
Serving with Arthur Lee, Silas Deane, John Adams
|Appointed by||Continental Congress|
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Jefferson|
|1st United States Postmaster General|
July 26, 1775 – November 7, 1776
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Succeeded by||Richard Bache|
|Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly|
May – October 1764
|Preceded by||Isaac Norris|
|Succeeded by||Isaac Norris|
|Born||(1706-01-17)January 17, 1706|
Boston, Massachusetts Bay, British America
|Died||April 17, 1790(1790-04-17) (aged 84)|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Cause of death||Pleurisy|
|Spouse(s)||Deborah Read (m. 1730; d. 1774)|
Benjamin FranklinFRSFRSE (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, 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. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."
Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders". After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of British policies.
He pioneered and was first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when 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 proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.
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. During the Revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750s, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.
His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.
Benjamin Franklin's father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler, a soap-maker and a candle-maker. Josiah was born at Ecton, Northamptonshire, England on December 23, 1657, the son of Thomas Franklin, a blacksmith-farmer, and Jane White. Benjamin's mother, Abiah Folger, was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1667, to Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher, and his wife, Mary Morrell Folger, a former indentured servant.
Benjamin's father and all four of his grandparents were born in England.
Josiah had seventeen children with his two wives. He married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated with her to Boston in 1683; they had three children before immigrating, and four after. Following her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689 in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin's fifteenth child and tenth and last son.
Benjamin's mother, Abiah, was born into a Puritan family that was among the first Pilgrims to flee to Massachusetts for religious freedom, when King Charles I of England began persecuting Puritans. They sailed for Boston in 1635. Her father was "the sort of rebel destined to transform colonial America." As clerk of the court, he was jailed for disobeying the local magistrate in defense of middle-class shopkeepers and artisans in conflict with wealthy landowners. Ben Franklin followed in his grandfather's footsteps in his battles against the wealthy Penn family that owned the Pennsylvania Colony.
|Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin|
Early life in Boston
Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, and baptized at Old South Meeting House. 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.
When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of "Silence Dogood", a middle-aged widow. Mrs. Dogood's letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courant's readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother. Franklin was an advocate of free speech from an early age. 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." 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. 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.
Junto and library
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." 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 had 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:
A proposition was made by me that since our books were often referr'd to in our disquisitions upon the inquiries, it might be convenient for us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we lik'd to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole.
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. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library.
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. 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, Pennsylvania 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.
Franklin saw the printing press as a device to instruct colonial Americans in moral virtue. In Benjamin Franklin's Journalism, Ralph Frasca argues he saw this as a service to God, because he understood moral virtue in terms of actions, thus, doing good provides a service to God. Despite his own moral lapses, Franklin saw himself as uniquely qualified to instruct Americans in morality. He tried to influence American moral life through construction of a printing network based on a chain of partnerships from the Carolinas to New England. Franklin thereby invented the first newspaper chain. It was more than a business venture, for like many publishers since, he believed that the press had a public-service duty.
When Franklin established himself in Philadelphia, shortly before 1730, the town boasted two "wretched little" news sheets, Andrew Bradford's The American Weekly Mercury, and Samuel Keimer's Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences, and Pennsylvania Gazette. This instruction in all arts and sciences consisted of weekly extracts from Chambers's Universal Dictionary. Franklin quickly did away with all this when he took over the Instructor and made it The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette soon became Franklin's characteristic organ, which he freely used for satire, for the play of his wit, even for sheer excess of mischief or of fun. From the first, he had a way of adapting his models to his own uses. 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. 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.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, like most other newspapers of the period, was often poorly printed. Franklin was busy with a hundred matters outside of his printing office, and never seriously attempted to raise the mechanical standards of his trade. Nor did he ever properly edit or collate the chance medley of stale items that passed for news in the Gazette. His influence on the practical side of journalism was minimal. On the other hand, his advertisements of books show his very great interest in popularizing secular literature. Undoubtedly his paper contributed to the broader culture that distinguished Pennsylvania from her neighbors before the Revolution. Like many publishers, Franklin built up a book shop in his printing office; he took the opportunity to read new books before selling them.
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. 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. 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. However, Franklin's Connecticut Gazette (1755–68) proved unsuccessful.
In 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic lodge. 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'sConstitutions of the Free-Masons. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.
Common-law marriage to Deborah Read
At age 17 in 1723, 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 she 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 her behind. Rodgers's fate was unknown, and because of bigamy laws, Deborah was not free to remarry.
Franklin established a common-law marriage with Deborah Read on September 1, 1730. They took in Franklin's recently acknowledged young illegitimate son William and raised him in their household. They had two children together. Their son, Francis Folger Franklin, was born in October 1732 and died of smallpox in 1736. Their daughter, Sarah "Sally" Franklin, was born in 1743 and grew up to marry Richard Bache, have seven children, and look after 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, and another possible reason why they spent so much time apart is that he may have blamed her for preventing their son Francis from being vaccinated against the disease that subsequently killed him. Deborah 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. Deborah Read Franklin died of a stroke in 1774, while Franklin was on an extended mission to England; he returned in 1775.
See also: William Franklin
In 1730, 24-year-old Franklin publicly acknowledged the existence of his son William, who was deemed "illegitimate," as he was born out of wedlock, and raised him in his household. His mother's identity is unknown. 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. Later in 1762, William 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. He settled in London, never to return to North America. In the preliminary peace talks in 1782 with Britain, "... Benjamin Franklin insisted that loyalists who had borne arms against the United States would be excluded from this plea (that they be given a general pardon). He was undoubtedly thinking of William Franklin."
Success as an author
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. 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.
Daylight saving time (DST) is often erroneously attributed to a 1784 satire that Franklin published anonymously. Modern DST was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895.
Inventions and scientific inquiries
Further information: Social contributions and studies by Benjamin Franklin
Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod, glass harmonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography he wrote, "... 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."
Franklin started exploring the phenomenon of electricity in 1746 when he saw some of Archibald Spencer's lectures using static electricity for illustrations. Franklin proposed that "vitreous" and "resinous" electricity were not different types of "electrical fluid" (as electricity was called then), but the same "fluid" under different pressures. (The same proposal was made independently that same year by William Watson.) Franklin was the first to label them as positive and negative respectively, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge. In 1748 he constructed a multiple plate capacitor, that he called an "electrical battery" (not to be confused with Volta'spile) by placing eleven panes of glass sandwiched between lead plates, suspended with silk cords and connected by wires.
In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1753, and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th-century Americans elected as a Fellow of the Society. He received honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale
Benjamin Franklin, born in 1706, was an author, diplomat, American printer, philosopher, and scientist. He contributed to two different things. They are the American Revolution and the new form of federal government.
Benjamin grew up in Boston, along with his sixteen other siblings. When he was fifteen years old, he delivered newspapers during the day and wrote articles for the newspapers at night. But, in 1792, James Franklin was imprisoned for writing an ‘offensive article’, and was mistaken under Benjamin Franklin’s name.
In October 1723, Benjamin decided to leave Boston because of James Franklin, and all the disagreements he had with him. He then moved to Philadelphia. He was pretty worried and concerned because when he came there, he only had three cents in his pocket. There, he met the governor of Pennsylvania, Sir William Keith, and they became friends. Keith convinced Benjamin to complete his training in becoming a printer, in London. Benjamin listened to what he had to say, and agreed with him. When he was eighteen years old, he worked at two different printing houses.
Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society, which is an organization of the promotion of science, in 1743. Also, in 1744 he invented a stove, which furnished more heat with a reduced consumption of fuel. He called the stove the Franklin Stove. Another thing he invented was swimming fins, since he loved swimming. He also invented the lightning rod, and received honorary degrees from two universities. They were the University of Saint Andrews and the University of Oxford. Benjamin was very talented in Mathematics, but mostly science.
Benjamin decided that he was going to sell his printing press business in 1748. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1750. In 1754 he was the delegate that went to Albany to discuss different ways of dealing with the threat of the French and Indian War. In 1757, Benjamin Franklin went to England to petition the king for the right to levy taxes on proprietary lands.
Suffering many great hardships, Benjamin traveled to Canada in the effort to enlist the support and also the cooperation in the Revolutionary War. When he came back to Pennsylvania, he was one of the five people that were chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin made this statement: “We must all hang together, or assuredly shall all hang separately.
Benjamin left all his responsibilities and duties in France and went back to Philadelphia. He was picked right away to become the president of the Pennsylvania executive council. Two months after encouraging the abolition of slavery, Benjamin died at home. He was eighty-four years old. He was known for contributing to the formation of the United States and representing the country. He was also known for experimenting with electricity and developing inventions.
Today, we honor Benjamin Franklin as one of our Founding Fathers and also as one of America’s greatest citizens. Although people think of Benjamin Franklin as a genius, he only had less than three years of good education. His curiosity is what kept challenging him to learn more about things. He was a very talented and skilled diplomat, that negotiated treaties with many places, such as Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and France. He was also a well-respected scientist.
As you can see, Benjamin Franklin was many different things in his lifetime. Along with many other jobs and things, he was a publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette. He created a new style of journalism. That style quickly became the foundation for all of American news coverage. It became the most successful newspaper in all of the colonies. The Pennsylvania Gazette printed the first political cartoon, done by Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin also had a part in the signing of the constitution. He gave his final speech in the constitutional convention. He said that he did not entirely approve of the constitution. After awhile he finally said that he will agree in the signing of the constitution, because he thought that a general government would be a good and necessary thing for us.
Franklin also loved reading and writing things. He would read every book that he could get his hands on. He organized the country’s first subscription library. Reading and writing so many things is part of why he became so smart.
Benjamin Franklin had so many accomplishments in his life. One of his accomplishments was establishing the first fire company and the first fire insurance company so that people would be safer. Other accomplishments include all of his inventions, which were the invention of bifocal glasses, the Franklin Stove, the lightning rod, and swimming fins. Some other great accomplishments are being elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, being chose president of the Pennsylvania executive council, his great skill in diplomacy, and being a framer of the Constitution.
One of Benjamin’s quotes on the Constitution is “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. Another famous quote said by him is “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve liberty nor safety.”
An interesting fact about Benjamin Franklin is that when he was sixteen years old, he became a vegetarian so that he could save money in order to buy more books to read. Another interesting thing about him was that he was the oldest delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence, which took place on July 2, 1776. He was seventy years old when he signed it.
Experiments with electricity are mostly what brought Benjamin Franklin fame from around the world. His experiment of flying a kite in a thunderstorm, that showed and proved that lightning is an electrical discharge, plus his invention of the lightning rod, are the two most inventions that got him all his recognition in his experimenting with different things.
Another thing Franklin did was hold local public offices. He served as the deputy postmaster general of all of the colonies. He changed the postal system for the better. One thing he changed about the postal system was that he reorganized it. That made it more efficient and also more profitable.
So as you can probably see, Benjamin Franklin took part in so many different things throughout his lifetime. He had many accomplishments along with some hardships and challenges as well. He’s known as one of the greatest citizens in the world.
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