Best Known For
Benjamin Franklin is best known as one of the Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
A short biography on Benjamin Franklin, who's been famously called the "first Citizen of the 18th Century." A man of many trades, Franklin is famous for "Poor Richard's Almanac," as well as his work in electrical theory.
Aside from The Bible, Poor Richard's Almanac became the most read item in the new colonies.
After many revisions, Benjamin Franklin and the other founding fathers signed one of the most important documents in history.
Benjamin Franklin was known as many things: an author, politician, scientist, philosopher and inventor.
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He was also able to take Deborah Read as his common-law wife in 1730, after her husband disappeared after stealing a slave. Their first son, Francis, was born in 1732 (although he died four years later of smallpox).
Franklin’s prominence and success grew during the 1730s, especially with the publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack at the end of 1732. Franklin amassed real estate and businesses, organized the Union Fire Company to counteract dangerous fire hazards,
established a lending library so others could share his passion for reading, and was elected Grand Master of the Pennsylvania Masons, clerk of the state assembly and postmaster of Philadelphia.
The 1740s saw Franklin expanding into entrepreneurship with invention of the Franklin stove, and also into scientific pursuits. His pamphlet "A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge" underscored his interests. His beloved daughter Sarah was born in 1743. He became a soldier in the Pennsylvania militia at the age of 42, but his abiding interest in electricity was ignited at this time, too. He conducted the famous kite-and-key experiment in 1752 after some of his theories on electricity were published in England the previous year.
Franklin was tapped as a foreign diplomat and represented the Pennsylvania Assembly, and subsequently Massachusetts, Georgia and New Jersey, in England, but he continued to work toward colonial union and in 1766 supported the repeal of the Stamp Act.
In 1775, Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and as postmaster general for the colonies, having mapped the postal routes in 1762. And in 1776, he was one of five men to draft the Declaration of Independence. Franklin was also one of the 13 men who drafted the Articles of Confederation.
Much has been made of Franklin’s life in Paris as essentially the first U.S. ambassador to France, chiefly his romantic life. Deborah, his wife of 44 years, died in 1774, two years before he accepted the post, and Franklin had a rich romantic life in his nine years abroad. He even proposed marriage, to a widow named Madame Helvetius, at the age of 74, but she rejected him.
Franklin was embraced in France as much, if not more, for his intellectual standing in the scientific community and for his wit, as for his status as a political appointee from a fledging country. His reputation facilitated respect and entrees into closed communities, including that of King Louis XVI. And it was his adept diplomacy that led to the peace treaty with England in 1783 and other foreign alliances and trade treaties.
After almost a decade in France, Franklin returned to America in 1785. He was elected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, which drafted and ratified the new U.S Constitution, and participated in electing George Washington as the country’s first president, inaugurated in April 1789.
He also served as president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, wrote many tracts urging the abolition of slavery and petitioned the U.S Congress for it in 1790.
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They are American icons—they're on our dollars and coins, they are the subject of our monuments, and we live our daily lives in the world their ideas helped create. America's "Founding Fathers" include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and of course, Benjamin Franklin. These men, together with several other key players of their time, structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has shaped the world. But beyond their legends, these men were human beings who led complex and fascinating lives. Learning their stories helps us better understand what made them tick, as well as their influence on our world today.
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