Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Overview
Dr. Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

. A noted polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician
Politics of the United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States , Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.The executive branch is headed by the President...

, postmaster
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat
Timeline of United States diplomatic history
The diplomatic history of the United States oscillated among three positions: isolation from diplomatic entanglements of other nations ; alliances with European and other military partners; and unilateralism, or operating on its own sovereign policy decisions...

. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment
American Enlightenment
The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century, especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other...

 and the history of physics
History of physics
As forms of science historically developed out of philosophy, physics was originally referred to as natural philosophy, a term describing a field of study concerned with "the workings of nature".-Early history:...

 for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod
Lightning rod
A lightning rod or lightning conductor is a metal rod or conductor mounted on top of a building and electrically connected to the ground through a wire, to protect the building in the event of lightning...

, bifocals
Bifocals
Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. Bifocals are most commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia who also require a correction for myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.-History:...

, the Franklin stove
Franklin stove
The Franklin stove is a metal-lined fireplace named after its inventor, Benjamin Franklin. It was invented in 1741.L.W. Labaree, W. Bell, W.B. Willcox, et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin , vol. 2, page 419...

, a carriage odometer
Odometer
An odometer or odograph is an instrument that indicates distance traveled by a vehicle, such as a bicycle or automobile. The device may be electronic, mechanical, or a combination of the two. The word derives from the Greek words hodós and métron...

, and the glass 'armonica'.
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Quotations

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.

Letter to his parents (c. 1728) as quoted in Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003) by Walter Isaacson|Walter Isaacson

I believe there is one Supreme most perfect being. ... I believe He is pleased and delights in the happiness of those He has created; and since without virtue man can have no happiness in this world, I firmly believe He delights to see me virtuous.

"Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion" (1728)

Remember that time is money.

Advice to a Young Tradesman (1748)

Much less is it adviseable for a Person to go thither [to America], who has no other Quality to recommend him but his Birth. In Europe it has indeed its Value; but it is a Commodity that cannot be carried to a worse Market than that of America, where people do not inquire concerning a Stranger, What is he? but, What can he do?

Information to Those Who Would Remove to America

Every Body cries, a Union is absolutely necessary, but when they come to the Manner and Form of the Union, their weak Noddles are perfectly distracted.

Letter to Peter Collinson (29 December 1754); published in The Writings of Benjamin Franklin (1905), edited by Albert Henry Smyth, Vol. III, p. 242
Encyclopedia
Dr. Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

. A noted polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician
Politics of the United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States , Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.The executive branch is headed by the President...

, postmaster
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat
Timeline of United States diplomatic history
The diplomatic history of the United States oscillated among three positions: isolation from diplomatic entanglements of other nations ; alliances with European and other military partners; and unilateralism, or operating on its own sovereign policy decisions...

. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment
American Enlightenment
The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century, especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other...

 and the history of physics
History of physics
As forms of science historically developed out of philosophy, physics was originally referred to as natural philosophy, a term describing a field of study concerned with "the workings of nature".-Early history:...

 for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod
Lightning rod
A lightning rod or lightning conductor is a metal rod or conductor mounted on top of a building and electrically connected to the ground through a wire, to protect the building in the event of lightning...

, bifocals
Bifocals
Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. Bifocals are most commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia who also require a correction for myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.-History:...

, the Franklin stove
Franklin stove
The Franklin stove is a metal-lined fireplace named after its inventor, Benjamin Franklin. It was invented in 1741.L.W. Labaree, W. Bell, W.B. Willcox, et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin , vol. 2, page 419...

, a carriage odometer
Odometer
An odometer or odograph is an instrument that indicates distance traveled by a vehicle, such as a bicycle or automobile. The device may be electronic, mechanical, or a combination of the two. The word derives from the Greek words hodós and métron...

, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library
Lending library
A lending library is a library from which books are lent out. The earliest reference to or use of the term "lending library" yet located in English correspondence dates from ca. 1586; C'Tess Pembroke Ps. CXII. v, "He is .....

 in America and the first fire department
Fire department
A fire department or fire brigade is a public or private organization that provides fire protection for a certain jurisdiction, which typically is a municipality, county, or fire protection district...

 in Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

; as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France
United States Ambassador to France
This article is about the United States Ambassador to France. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution. The United States sent its first envoys to France in 1776, towards the end of the four-centuries-old Bourbon dynasty...

, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education
Education in the United States
Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Child education is compulsory.Public education is universally available...

, community spirit
Community spirit
Community spirit is a phrase used to describe local people working together for a mutually positive and sometimes pleasurable result. This could be apparent at a community fair, a school fete, or in more practical situations where a local is in need of help and the community rally round to provide...

, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager
Henry Steele Commager
Henry Steele Commager was an American historian who helped define Modern liberalism in the United States for two generations through his forty books and 700 essays and reviews...

, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson is a writer and biographer. He is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. He has been the Chairman and CEO of CNN and the Managing Editor of TIME...

, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."

Franklin, always proud of his working class roots, became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies. He was also partners with William Goddard and Joseph Galloway
Joseph Galloway
Joseph Galloway was an American Loyalist during the American Revolution, after serving as delegate to the First Continental Congress from Pennsylvania.-Early life:...

 the three of whom published the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British monarchy
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 in the American colonies. He became wealthy publishing Poor Richard's Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (newspaper)
The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States' most prominent newspapers from 1728, before the time period of the American Revolution, until 1815...

. Franklin gained international renown as a scientist for his famous experiments in electricity and for his many inventions, especially the lightning rod. He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

 and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

. Franklin became a national hero in America when he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 repeal the unpopular Stamp Act
Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act 1765 was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp...

. 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. For many years he was the British postmaster for the colonies, which enabled him to set up the first national communications network. 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. Toward the end of his life, he freed his slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money
United States one hundred-dollar bill
The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

; warships
USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640)
|...

; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

Ancestry


Franklin's father, Josiah Franklin
Josiah Franklin
Josiah Franklin was an English-born businessman best known as the father of Benjamin Franklin.Josiah was born in the tiny town of Ecton, Northamptonshire, England on December 23, 1657. Josiah was the ninth and the last child of his parents, Thomas Franklin, blacksmith and farmer, and his wife Jane...

 was a tallow
Tallow
Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.In industry,...

 chandler, a soap-maker and a candle-maker. Josiah was born at Ecton
Ecton
Ecton is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, England. The village is just east of Northampton, just off the A4500 road. It was one of the first villages in Northamptonshire to be given conservation status...

, Northamptonshire, England, on December 23, 1657, the son of Thomas Franklin, a blacksmith-farmer, and Jane White. His mother, Abiah Folger, was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket is an island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the United States. Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, it constitutes the town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the coterminous Nantucket County, which are consolidated. Part of the town is designated the Nantucket...

, on August 15, 1667, to Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher and his wife Mary Morrill
Mary Morrill
Mary Morrill was the grandmother of Benjamin Franklin, American printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, statesman and inventor.Mary immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant probably belonging to...

, a former indentured servant
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

.

Josiah Franklin had 17 children with his two wives. He married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and emigrated with her to Boston in 1683; they had three children before emigrating, and four after. After her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689, in the Old South Meeting House
Old South Meeting House
The Old South Meeting House , in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston, Massachusetts, gained fame as the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. 5,000 colonists gathered at the Meeting House, the largest building in Boston at the time.-Church :The church, with its 56 m ...

 by Samuel Willard
Samuel Willard
Reverend Samuel Willard was a Colonial clergyman. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts; graduated at Harvard in 1659; and was minister at Groton from 1663 to 1676, whence he was driven by the Indians during King Philip's War. The Reverend Willard was pastor of the Third Church, Boston, from...

. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin's 15th child and tenth and last son.

Ben Franklin's mother, Abiah Folger, was born into a Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 family among those that fled to Massachusetts to establish a purified Congregationalist Christianity in New England, when King Charles I of England
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 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
Court clerk
A court clerk is an officer of the court whose responsibilities include maintaining the records of a court. Another duty is to administer oaths to witnesses, jurors, and grand jurors...

, 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
Province of Pennsylvania
The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in British America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II...

.

Early life



Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street
Milk Street
Milk Street is a street in the financial district of Boston, Massachusetts.Milk Street was one of Boston's earliest highways. The name "Milk Street" was given to the street in 1708 due to the milk market at the location...

, in Boston, Massachusetts
Province of Massachusetts Bay
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England and Scotland...

, on January 17, 1706 and baptized
Infant baptism
Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child." The practice is sometimes contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism", or...

 at Old South Meeting House. 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
Boston Latin School
The Boston Latin School is a public exam school founded on April 23, 1635, in Boston, Massachusetts. It is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States....

 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 then worked for his father for a time and at 12 he became an apprentice
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade. When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant
The New-England Courant
The New-England Courant is one of the oldest and the first truly independent American newspapers. It was founded in Boston on August 7, 1721 by James Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's older brother. The newspaper participated in several controversies and was suppressed in 1727...

, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies
History of American newspapers
The history of American newspapers goes back to the 17th century with the publication of the first colonial newspapers.-Colonial period:-The New England Courant:...

. When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of "Mrs. Silence Dogood", a middle-aged widow. "Mrs. Dogood"'s letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courants readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother. Franklin left his apprenticeship without 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. However, 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
William Keith (Colonial Governor)
Sir William Keith, Bt was a lieutenant-governor of colonial Pennsylvania and Delaware.Keith was born in Boddam Castle near Peterhead, Scotland to Sir William Keith, Baronet, of Ludquhairn, Scotland and Lady Jean Keith. He was baptised on 16 February 1680. As eldest son, he stood to inherit the...

 to go to London, ostensibly to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith's promises of backing a newspaper to be empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer's shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great
St Bartholomew-the-Great
The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great is an Anglican church located at West Smithfield in the City of London, founded as an Augustinian priory in 1123 -History:...

 in the Smithfield
Smithfield, London
Smithfield is an area of the City of London, in the ward of Farringdon Without. It is located in the north-west part of the City, and is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market, today the last surviving historical wholesale market in Central London...

 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.

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.

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. This did not suffice, however. Franklin then conceived the idea of a subscription library
Subscription library
A subscription library is a library that is financed by private funds either from membership fees or endowments...

, 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
Library Company of Philadelphia
The Library Company of Philadelphia is a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded by Benjamin Franklin as a library, the Library Company of Philadelphia has accumulated one of the most significant collections of historically valuable manuscripts and printed material in...

: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee
Louis Timothee
Louis Timothee was a prominent Colonial American printer in the Colony of Pennsylvania, who worked for Benjamin Franklin. He was the first American librarian.-Early life:...

.
Originally, the books were kept in the homes of the first librarians, but in 1739 the collection was moved to the second floor of the State House of Pennsylvania, now known as Independence Hall. In 1791, a new building was built specifically for the library. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library
Research library
A research library is a library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects . A research library will generally include primary sources as well as secondary sources...

 with 500,000 rare books, pamphlets, and broadsides, more than 160,000 manuscripts, and 75,000 graphic items.
Upon Denham's death, Franklin returned to his former trade. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredith and the following year became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (newspaper)
The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States' most prominent newspapers from 1728, before the time period of the American Revolution, until 1815...

. 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 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 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's Constitutions of the Free-Masons
Masonic manuscripts
There are a number of masonic manuscripts that are historically important in the development of Freemasonry.-The Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem:...

. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.

Common-law marriage to Deborah Read



At the age of 17, Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read
Deborah Read
Deborah Read Franklin was the spouse of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and a prominent inventor, printer, thinker, and revolutionary.-Life Before Second Marriage:...

 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
William Keith (Colonial Governor)
Sir William Keith, Bt was a lieutenant-governor of colonial Pennsylvania and Delaware.Keith was born in Boddam Castle near Peterhead, Scotland to Sir William Keith, Baronet, of Ludquhairn, Scotland and Lady Jean Keith. He was baptised on 16 February 1680. As eldest son, he stood to inherit the...

 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
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 with her dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

, leaving Deborah behind. Rodgers's fate was unknown, and because of bigamy laws, Deborah was not free to remarry.

Franklin established a common-law marriage
Common-law marriage
Common-law marriage, sometimes called sui juris marriage, informal marriage or marriage by habit and repute, is a form of interpersonal status that is legally recognized in limited jurisdictions as a marriage even though no legally recognized marriage ceremony is performed or civil marriage...

 with Deborah Read on September 1, 1730, and besides taking in Franklin's young, recently acknowledged illegitimate son, William, together they had two children. The first, Francis Folger Franklin, born October 1732, died of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 in 1736. Their second child, Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin Bache
Sarah Franklin “Sally” Bache was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read.Known as "Sally" throughout her life, she was an ardent American patriot during the Revolutionary War through relief work and as her father's political hostess...

, familiarly called Sally, was born in 1743. She eventually married Richard Bache
Richard Bache
Richard Bache , born in Yorkshire, England, was the son-in-law of Benjamin Franklin. After arriving in Philadelphia from Yorkshire, England, in 1761, Bache prospered as a marine insurance underwriter and importer. In 1767, misfortune struck; debts contracted by him were repudiated by his London...

, 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. However, Franklin did not leave London to visit Deborah even after she wrote to him in November 1769 saying her illness was due to “dissatisfied distress” from his prolonged absence. Deborah Read Franklin died of a stroke in 1774, while Franklin was on an extended trip to England.

Illegitimate son William



In 1730, at the age of 24, Franklin publicly acknowledged an illegitimate son named William
William Franklin
William Franklin was an American soldier and colonial administrator. He served as the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey. Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American War of Independence, despite his father Benjamin Franklin's role as one of the most prominent Patriots during the...

, who would eventually become the last Loyalist governor of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. While the identity of William's mother remains unknown, perhaps the responsibility of an infant child gave Franklin a reason to take up residence with Deborah Read. William was raised in the Franklin household but eventually broke with his father over opinions regarding the treatment of the colonies by the British government. The elder Franklin could never accept William's decision to declare his loyalty to the crown.

Any hope of reconciliation was shattered when William Franklin became leader of The Board of Associated Loyalists—a quasi-military organization, headquartered in British-occupied New York City, which, among other things, launched guerilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city. In the preliminary peace talks in 1782 with Britain "...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." William left New York along with the British troops. He settled in England, never to return.

Success as an author


In 1733, Franklin began to publish the famous 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 (a circulation equivalent to nearly three million today).

In 1758, the year he ceased writing for the Almanack, he printed Father Abraham's Sermon, also known as The Way to Wealth
The Way to Wealth
"The Way to Wealth" is an essay written by Benjamin Franklin in 1758. It is a collection of adages and advice presented in Poor Richard's Almanac during its first 25 years of publication, organized into a speech given by "Father Abraham" to a group of people. Many of the phrases Father Abraham...

. Franklin's autobiography
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs...

, begun in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the classics of the genre. Daylight saving time
Daylight saving time
Daylight saving time —also summer time in several countries including in British English and European official terminology —is the practice of temporarily advancing clocks during the summertime so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less...

 (DST) is often erroneously attributed to a 1784 satire that Franklin published anonymously
Anonymity
Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.There are many reasons why a...

. Modern DST was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson
George Vernon Hudson
George Vernon Hudson was an English-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer.Born in London, Hudson was the sixth child of Charles Hudson, an artist and stained-glass window designer. By the age of 14 he had built up a collection of British insects, and had published a paper in The Entomologist...

 in 1895.

Inventions and scientific inquiries


Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod
Lightning rod
A lightning rod or lightning conductor is a metal rod or conductor mounted on top of a building and electrically connected to the ground through a wire, to protect the building in the event of lightning...

, glass armonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove
Franklin stove
The Franklin stove is a metal-lined fireplace named after its inventor, Benjamin Franklin. It was invented in 1741.L.W. Labaree, W. Bell, W.B. Willcox, et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin , vol. 2, page 419...

, bifocal glasses
Bifocals
Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. Bifocals are most commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia who also require a correction for myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.-History:...

 and the flexible urinary catheter
Urinary catheterization
In urinary catheterization , a latex, polyurethane or silicone tube known as a urinary catheter is inserted into a patient's bladder via his or her urethra. Catheterization allows the patient's urine to drain freely from the bladder for collection. It may be used to inject liquids used for...

. Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs...

 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."

His inventions also included social innovation
Social innovation
Social innovation refers to new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds - from working conditions and education to community development and health - and that extend and strengthen civil society....

s, such as paying forward
Pay it forward
The expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead. In contract law, typically there are two parties but there is the concept of third party beneficiaries. Pay it forward merely applies this contract law concept...

. Franklin's fascination with innovation could be viewed as altruistic; he wrote that his scientific works were to be used for increasing efficiency and human improvement. One such improvement was his effort to expedite news services through his printing presses.

Atlantic Ocean currents


As deputy postmaster, Franklin became interested in the North Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 Ocean circulation patterns. While in England in 1768 he heard a complaint from the Colonial Board of Customs: Why did it take British packet ships carrying mail several weeks longer to reach New York than it took an average merchant ship to reach Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

 – despite the merchantmen having a longer and more complex voyage because they left from London, while the packets left from Falmouth
Falmouth, Cornwall
Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

 in Cornwall?

Franklin put the question to his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket whaler captain, who told him that merchant ships routinely avoided a strong eastbound mid-ocean current while the mail packet captains sailed dead into it, thus fighting an adverse current of 3 miles per hour (5 km/h). Franklin worked with Folger and other experienced ship captains, learning enough to chart the current and name it the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

, by which it is still known today.

Franklin published his Gulf Stream chart in 1770 in England, where it was completely ignored. Subsequent versions were printed in France in 1778 and the U.S. in 1786. The British edition of the chart, which was the original, was so thoroughly ignored that everyone assumed it was lost forever until Phil Richardson, a Woods Hole Oceanographer
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility dedicated to the study of all aspects of marine science and engineering and to the education of marine researchers. Established in 1930, it is the largest independent oceanographic research...

 and Gulf Stream expert, discovered it in Bibliothèque Nationale
Bibliothèque nationale de France
The is the National Library of France, located in Paris. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The current president of the library is Bruno Racine.-History:...

 in Paris in 1980. This find received front page coverage in the New York Times.

It took many years for British sea captains finally to adopt Franklin's advice on navigating the current; once they did, they were able to trim two weeks from their sailing time. In 1853, oceanographer and cartographer Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury , United States Navy was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator....

 reminded that Franklin only charted and codified the Gulf Stream, he did not actually discover it:

No longer a printer


In 1743, Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

 to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories. 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.
In 1747, he retired from printing and went into other businesses. 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.

Electricity


His discoveries resulted from his investigations of electricity. Franklin proposed that "vitreous" and "resinous" electricity were not different types of "electrical fluid
Aether theories
Aether theories in early modern physics proposed the existence of a medium, the aether , a space-filling substance or field, thought to be necessary as a transmission medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves...

" (as electricity was called then), but the same electrical fluid under different pressures. He was the first to label them as positive and negative
Electric charge
Electric charge is a physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when near other electrically charged matter. Electric charge comes in two types, called positive and negative. Two positively charged substances, or objects, experience a mutual repulsive force, as do two...

 respectively, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge
Charge conservation
In physics, charge conservation is the principle that electric charge can neither be created nor destroyed. The net quantity of electric charge, the amount of positive charge minus the amount of negative charge in the universe, is always conserved...

.

In 1750 he published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm
Kite experiment
The kite experiment was a scientific experiment proposed and later conducted by Benjamin Franklin with assistance from his son William Franklin...

 that appeared capable of becoming a lightning
Lightning
Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

 storm. On May 10, 1752 Thomas-François Dalibard
Thomas-François Dalibard
Thomas-François Dalibard was born in Crannes-en-Champagne, France in 1709 and died in 1799.-Relationship with Ben Franklin:He first met U.S. scientist Benjamin Franklin in 1767 during one of Franklin's visits to France and it is said that they became friends.In 1750, Benjamin Franklin published a...

 of France conducted Franklin's experiment using a 40 feet (12.2 m)-tall iron rod instead of a kite, and he extracted electrical sparks from a cloud. On June 15 Franklin may possibly have conducted his famous kite experiment in Philadelphia, successfully extracting sparks from a cloud. Franklin's experiment was not written up with credit until Joseph Priestley's
Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, FRS was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works...

 1767 History and Present Status of Electricity; the evidence shows that Franklin was insulated (not in a conducting path, where he would have been in danger of electrocution
Electric shock
Electric Shock of a body with any source of electricity that causes a sufficient current through the skin, muscles or hair. Typically, the expression is used to denote an unwanted exposure to electricity, hence the effects are considered undesirable....

). Others, such as Prof. Georg Wilhelm Richmann
Georg Wilhelm Richmann
Georg Wilhelm Richmann was a German physicist who lived in Russia....

 were indeed electrocuted during the months following Franklin's experiment.

In his writings, Franklin indicates that he was aware of the dangers and offered alternative ways to demonstrate that lightning was electrical, as shown by his use of the concept of electrical ground
Ground (electricity)
In electrical engineering, ground or earth may be the reference point in an electrical circuit from which other voltages are measured, or a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the Earth....

. If Franklin did perform this experiment, he may not have done it in the way that is often described, flying the kite and waiting to be struck by lightning, as it could have been dangerous. The popular television program MythBusters
MythBusters
MythBusters is a science entertainment TV program created and produced by Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. The series is screened by numerous international broadcasters, including Discovery Channel Australia, Discovery Channel Latin America, Discovery Channel Canada, Quest...

 simulated the alleged "key at the end of a string" Franklin experiment and established with a degree of certainty that, if Franklin had indeed proceeded thus, he would undoubtedly have been killed. Instead he used the kite to collect some electric charge from a storm cloud, which implied that lightning was electrical.

On October 19 in a letter to England explaining directions for repeating the experiment, Franklin wrote:
Franklin's electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod. He noted that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point were capable of discharging silently, and at a far greater distance. He surmised that this knowledge could be of use in protecting buildings from lightning by attaching "upright Rods of Iron, made sharp as a Needle and gilt to prevent Rusting, and from the Foot of those Rods a Wire down the outside of the Building into the Ground;...Would not these pointed Rods probably draw the Electrical Fire silently out of a Cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible Mischief!" Following a series of experiments on Franklin's own house, lightning rods were installed on the Academy of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in 1752.

In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society's
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 Copley Medal
Copley Medal
The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences"...

 in 1753 and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th century Americans to be elected as a Fellow of the Society. The cgs
Centimetre gram second system of units
The centimetre–gram–second system is a metric system of physical units based on centimetre as the unit of length, gram as a unit of mass, and second as a unit of time...

 unit of electric charge has been named after him: one franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb
Statcoulomb
The statcoulomb or franklin or electrostatic unit of charge is the physical unit for electrical charge used in the centimetre-gram-second system of units and Gaussian units. It is a derived unit given by...

.

Wave theory of light


Franklin was, along with his contemporary Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

, the only major scientist who supported Christiaan Huygens' wave theory of light, which was basically ignored by the rest of the scientific community
Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...

. In the 18th century Newton's
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 corpuscular theory was held to be true; only after Young's
Thomas Young (scientist)
Thomas Young was an English polymath. He is famous for having partly deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics before Jean-François Champollion eventually expanded on his work...

 famous slit experiment (1803) were most scientists persuaded to believe Huygens' theory.

Meteorology


On October 21, 1743, according to popular myth, a storm moving from the southwest denied Franklin the opportunity of witnessing a lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

. Franklin was said to have noted that the prevailing winds
Prevailing winds
Prevailing winds are winds that blow predominantly from a single general direction over a particular point on Earth's surface. The dominant winds are the trends in direction of wind with the highest speed over a particular point on the Earth's surface. A region's prevailing and dominant winds...

 were actually from the northeast, contrary to what he had expected. In correspondence with his brother, Franklin learned that the same storm had not reached Boston until after the eclipse, despite the fact that Boston is to the northeast of Philadelphia. He deduced that storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, a concept that greatly influenced meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

.

Concept of cooling


Franklin noted a principle of refrigeration
Refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. This work is traditionally done by mechanical work, but can also be done by magnetism, laser or other means...

 by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one. To understand this phenomenon more clearly Franklin conducted experiments. In 1758 on a warm day in Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, England, Franklin and fellow scientist John Hadley
John Hadley (chemist)
John Hadley was a British chemist and physician.John Hadley was appointed in 1756 as the fourth Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge University, the oldest continuously occupied chair of Chemistry in the UK. During his time there he co-operated in 1758 with Benjamin Franklin on a series of...

 experimented by continually wetting the ball of a mercury thermometer
Thermometer
Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer is a device that measures temperature or temperature gradient using a variety of different principles. A thermometer has two important elements: the temperature sensor Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer (from the...

 with ether
Diethyl ether
Diethyl ether, also known as ethyl ether, simply ether, or ethoxyethane, is an organic compound in the ether class with the formula . It is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid with a characteristic odor...

 and using bellows
Bellows
A bellows is a device for delivering pressurized air in a controlled quantity to a controlled location.Basically, a bellows is a deformable container which has an outlet nozzle. When the volume of the bellows is decreased, the air escapes through the outlet...

 to evaporate the ether. With each subsequent evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

, the thermometer read a lower temperature, eventually reaching 7 °F (−14 °C). Another thermometer showed the room temperature to be constant at 65 °F (18 °C). In his letter Cooling by Evaporation, Franklin noted that "one may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on a warm summer’s day."

Temperature's effect on electrical conductivity


According to Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

, Franklin's experiments on the non-conduction of ice are worth mentioning although the law of the general effect of liquefaction on electrolytes is not attributed to Franklin. However, as reported in 1836 by Prof. A. D. Bache of the University of Pennsylvania, the law of the effect of heat on the conduction of bodies otherwise non-conductors, for example, glass, could be attributed to Franklin. Franklin writes, "...A certain quantity of heat will make some bodies good conductors, that will not otherwise conduct..." and again, "...And water, though naturally a good conductor, will not conduct well when frozen into ice."

Oceanography findings


An aging Franklin accumulated all his oceanographic findings in Maritime Observations, published by the Philosophical Society's transactions in 1786. It contained ideas for sea anchor
Sea anchor
A sea anchor, is a device external to the boat, attached to the bow used to stabilize a boat in heavy weather. It anchors not to the sea floor but to the water itself, as a kind of brake. Sea anchors are known by a number of names, such as drift anchor, drift sock, para-anchor, and boat brakes...

s, catamaran
Catamaran
A catamaran is a type of multihulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls, or vakas, joined by some structure, the most basic being a frame, formed of akas...

 hulls, watertight compartments, shipboard lightning rods and a soup bowl designed to stay stable in stormy weather.

Economics


Benjamin Franklin, in his capacity as a farmer, wrote at least one critique about the negative consequences of price controls, trade restrictions and subsidy of the poor. This is succinctly preserved in his letter to the London Chronicle published November 29, 1766 titled 'On the Price of Corn, and Management of the poor'. Economics was only generally recognized as a science with the publishing of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

 which was published 9 years later.

Musical endeavors


Franklin is known to have played the violin, the harp
Harp
The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

, and the guitar. He also composed music, notably a string quartet
String quartet
A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string players – usually two violin players, a violist and a cellist – or a piece written to be performed by such a group...

 in early classical style
Classical period (music)
The dates of the Classical Period in Western music are generally accepted as being between about 1750 and 1830. However, the term classical music is used colloquially to describe a variety of Western musical styles from the ninth century to the present, and especially from the sixteenth or...

, and invented a much-improved version of the glass armonica, in which the glasses rotate on a shaft, with the player's fingers held steady, instead of the other way around; this version soon found its way to Europe.

Chess


Franklin was an avid chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 player. He was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies. 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 it has been widely reprinted and translated. He and a friend also used chess as a means of learning the Italian language
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, 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 posthumously inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame
World Chess Hall of Fame
The World Chess Hall of Fame is a museum in St. Louis, Missouri dedicated to honoring achievements in the game of chess. It is run and organized by the United States Chess Trust, a charitable arm of the United States Chess Federation. Its past locations include New York, Washington D.C., and...

 in 1999.

Public life


In 1736, Franklin created the Union Fire Company
Union Fire Company
Union Fire Company, sometimes called Benjamin Franklin's Bucket Brigade, was a volunteer fire department formed in Philadelphia in 1736 with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin. The first fire fighting organization in Philadelphia, though followed within the year by the Fellowship Fire Company...

, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In the same year, he printed a new currency for New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 based on innovative anti-counterfeit
Counterfeit
To counterfeit means to illegally imitate something. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product...

ing techniques he had devised. Throughout his career, Franklin was an advocate for paper money
Banknote
A banknote is a kind of negotiable instrument, a promissory note made by a bank payable to the bearer on demand, used as money, and in many jurisdictions is legal tender. In addition to coins, banknotes make up the cash or bearer forms of all modern fiat 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.

As he matured, Franklin began to concern himself more with public affairs. In 1743, he set forth a scheme for The Academy and College of Philadelphia
The Academy and College of Philadelphia
The Academy and College of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, is considered by many to have been the first American academy. It was founded in 1749 by Benjamin Franklin....

. He was appointed president of the academy on November 13, 1749, and it opened on August 13, 1751. At its first commencement, on May 17, 1757, seven men graduated; six with a Bachelor of Arts and one as Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

. It was later merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to become the University of Pennsylvania.

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
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 for Philadelphia, and in 1751 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly. On August 10, 1753, Franklin was appointed joint deputy postmaster-general of North America. 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
Thomas Bond (physician)
Thomas Bond was an American physician and surgeon. In 1751 he co-founded the Pennsylvania Hospital, the first medical facility in the American colonies, with Benjamin Franklin, and also volunteered his services there as both physician and teacher.-Education and professional life:Bond was born in...

 obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital
Pennsylvania Hospital
Pennsylvania Hospital is a hospital in Center City, Philadelphia, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Health System . Founded on May 11, 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, it was the first hospital in the United States...

 was the first hospital in what was to become the United States of America.
In 1753, both Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 and Yale awarded him honorary degrees.

In 1754, he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress
Albany Congress
The Albany Congress, also known as the Albany Conference and "The Conference of Albany" or "The Conference in Albany", was a meeting of representatives from seven of the thirteen British North American colonies in 1754...

. This meeting of several colonies had been requested by the Board of Trade
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 in England to improve relations with the Indians and defense against the French. Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union
Albany Plan
The Albany Plan of Union was proposed by Benjamin Franklin at the Albany Congress in 1754 in Albany, New York. It was an early attempt at forming a union of the colonies "under one government as far as might be necessary for defense and other general important purposes" during the French and...

 for the colonies. While the plan was not adopted, elements of it found their way into the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

 and the Constitution.

In 1756, Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia (see "Associated Regiment of Philadelphia" under heading of Pennsylvania's 103rd Artillery and 111th Infantry Regiment
111th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 111th Infantry Regiment is represented in the U.S. Army by 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry assigned to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division...

 at Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

). He used Tun Tavern
Tun Tavern
Tun Tavern was a tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which served as a founding or early meeting place for a number of notable groups. It is traditionally regarded as the site where the United States Marine Corps held its first recruitment drive...

 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.
Also in 1756, Franklin became a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (now Royal Society of Arts or RSA, which had been founded in 1754), whose early meetings took place in coffee shops
Coffeehouse
A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

 in London's Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

 district, close to Franklin's main residence in Craven Street.

The Craven street residence is the only of his residences to survive. It opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House
Benjamin Franklin House
Benjamin Franklin House is a museum in a terraced house in Craven Street, London, close to Trafalgar Square. It is the only surviving former home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The house dates from circa 1730 and Franklin lived and worked there for sixteen...

 museum on January 17, 2006.

After his return to America, Franklin became the Society's Corresponding Member and remained closely connected with the Society. The RSA instituted a Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1956 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Franklin's birth and the 200th anniversary of his membership of the RSA.


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. 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
Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

 led to the failure of this mission.

Whilst in London, Franklin became involved in radical politics. He was a member of the Club of Honest Whigs, alongside thinkers such as Richard Price
Richard Price
Richard Price was a British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution. He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the...

, the minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church
Newington Green Unitarian Church
Newington Green Unitarian Church in north London is one of England's oldest Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years, and is London's oldest Nonconformist place of worship still in use...

 who ignited the Revolution Controversy
Revolution Controversy
The Revolution Controversy was a British debate over the French Revolution, lasting from 1789 through 1795. A pamphlet war began in earnest after the publication of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France , which surprisingly supported the French aristocracy...

. During his stays at Craven Street between 1757 and 1775, Franklin 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.

In 1759, he visited Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 with his son, and recalled his conversations there as "the densest happiness of my life". In February 1759, the University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews
The University of St Andrews, informally referred to as "St Andrews", is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world after Oxford and Cambridge. The university is situated in the town of St Andrews, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It was founded between...

 awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree and in October of the same year he was granted Freedom of the Borough
Freedom of the City
Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by some municipalities in Australia, Canada, Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Rhodesia to esteemed members of its community and to organisations to be honoured, often for service to the community;...

 of St. Andrews.

In 1762, Oxford University awarded Franklin an honorary doctorate for his scientific accomplishments and from then on he went by "Doctor Franklin." He also managed to secure a post for his illegitimate son, William Franklin, as Colonial Governor of New Jersey
Governor of New Jersey
The Office of the Governor of New Jersey is the executive branch for the U.S. state of New Jersey. The office of Governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four year terms. While individual politicians may serve as many terms as they can be elected to, Governors cannot be...

.

He also joined the influential Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 based Lunar Society
Lunar Society
The Lunar Society of Birmingham was a dinner club and informal learned society of prominent figures in the Midlands Enlightenment, including industrialists, natural philosophers and intellectuals, who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham, England. At first called the Lunar Circle,...

 with whom he regularly corresponded and on occasion, visited in Birmingham in the West Midlands.

At this time, many members of the Pennsylvania Assembly were feuding with William Penn's heirs, who controlled the colony as proprietors
Proprietary colony
A proprietary colony was a colony in which one or more individuals, usually land owners, remaining subject to their parent state's sanctions, retained rights that are today regarded as the privilege of the state, and in all cases eventually became so....

. Franklin led the "anti-proprietary party" in the struggle against the Penn family, and was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
The speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives holds the oldest state-wide elected office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Since its first session under the Frame of Government in 1682, presided over by William Penn, over 130 House members have been elevated to the speaker's chair...

 in May 1764. 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. Because of these fears, and because of political attacks on his character, Franklin lost his seat in the October 1764 Assembly elections. The anti-proprietary party dispatched Franklin to England to continue the struggle against the Penn family proprietorship, but during this visit, events would drastically change the nature of his mission.

Europe years


In London, Franklin opposed the 1765 Stamp Act
Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act 1765 was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp...

, but when he was 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 his testimony before the House of Commons 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, and Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, and Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 also appointed him as their agent to the Crown.
In September 1767, Franklin visited Paris with his usual traveling partner, Sir John Pringle
John Pringle
Sir John Pringle, 1st Baronet, FRS was a Scottish physician who has been called the "father of military medicine" ....

. 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
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

.

While living in London in 1768, he developed a phonetic alphabet
Benjamin Franklin's phonetic alphabet
Benjamin Franklin's phonetic alphabet was Benjamin Franklin's proposal for a spelling reform of the English language. It used many of the same letters, but changed some of them and what sounds they represented. It was one of the earliest proposed spelling reforms to the English...

 in A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling. This reformed alphabet discarded six letters Franklin regarded as redundant (c, j, q, w, x, and y), and substituted six new letters for sounds he felt lacked letters of their own. His new alphabet, however, never caught on and he eventually lost interest.

In 1771, Franklin made short journeys through different parts of England, staying with Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, FRS was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works...

 at Leeds
Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

, Thomas Percival
Thomas Percival
Thomas Percival FRS FRSE FSA was an English physician and author, best known for crafting perhaps the first modern code of medical ethics...

 at Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 and Dr. Darwin at Litchfield
Litchfield, Hampshire
Litchfield is a linear village in the English county of Hampshire. It is closely bypassed by the A34 trunk road between Newbury and Whitchurch.-Governance:...

. Franklin belonged to a gentleman's club (designated "honest Whigs" by Franklin), which held stated meetings, and included members such as Richard Price
Richard Price
Richard Price was a British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution. He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the...

 and Andrew Kippis
Andrew Kippis
Andrew Kippis was an English nonconformist clergyman and biographer.The son of Robert Kippis, a silk-hosier, he was born at Nottingham. Having gone to school at Sleaford in Lincolnshire he passed at the age of sixteen to the Dissenting academy at Northampton, of which Dr Philip Doddridge was then...

. He was also a corresponding member of the Lunar Society
Lunar Society
The Lunar Society of Birmingham was a dinner club and informal learned society of prominent figures in the Midlands Enlightenment, including industrialists, natural philosophers and intellectuals, who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham, England. At first called the Lunar Circle,...

 of Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, which included such other scientific and industrial luminaries as Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton, FRS was an English manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Watt. In the final quarter of the 18th century the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines, which were a great advance on the state of the art, making possible the...

, James Watt
James Watt
James Watt, FRS, FRSE was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.While working as an instrument maker at the...

, Josiah Wedgewood and Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin was an English physician who turned down George III's invitation to be a physician to the King. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave trade abolitionist,inventor and poet...

. He had never been to Ireland before, and met and stayed with Lord Hillsborough, whom he believed was especially attentive, but of whom he noted that "all the plausible behaviour I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides." In Dublin, Franklin was invited to sit with the members of the Irish Parliament
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 rather than in the gallery. He was the first American to be given this honor. While touring Ireland, he was moved by the level of poverty he saw. Ireland's economy was affected by the same trade regulations and laws of Britain that governed America. Franklin feared that America could suffer the same effects should Britain’s "colonial exploitation" continue. In Scotland, he spent five days with Lord Kames near Stirling
Stirling
Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

 and stayed for three weeks with David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 in Edinburgh.

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. He also published an Abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer, anonymously with Francis Dashwood
Francis Dashwood, 15th Baron le Despencer
Francis Dashwood, 15th Baron le Despencer was an English rake and politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer and founder of the Hellfire Club.-Early life:...

. Among the unusual features of this work is a funeral service
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 reduced to six minutes in length, "to preserve the health and lives of the living."

Hutchinson letters



Franklin obtained private letters of Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson and lieutenant governor Andrew Oliver
Andrew Oliver
Andrew Oliver was a merchant and public official in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Born in Boston, he was the son of Daniel Oliver, a merchant, and Elizabeth Belcher Oliver, daughter of Governor Jonathan Belcher. Andrew had two brothers: Daniel Oliver and Peter Oliver...

 that proved they were encouraging London to crack down on the rights of Bostonians. Franklin sent them to America where they escalated the tensions. Franklin now appeared to the British as the fomenter of serious trouble. Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, often known as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law...

 Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, 1774. He left London in March 1775.

Coming of Revolution


In 1763, soon after Franklin returned to Pennsylvania, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac's Rebellion
Pontiac's Rebellion
Pontiac's War, Pontiac's Conspiracy, or Pontiac's Rebellion was a war that was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British postwar policies in the...

. The Paxton Boys
Paxton Boys
The Paxton Boys were a vigilante group who murdered 20 Susquehannock in events collectively called the Conestoga Massacre. Scots-Irish frontiersmen from central Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River formed a vigilante group to retaliate against local American Indians in the aftermath of the...

, a group of settlers convinced that the Pennsylvania government was not doing enough to protect them from American Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 raids, murdered a group of peaceful Susquehannock
Susquehannock
The Susquehannock people were Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans who lived in areas adjacent to the Susquehanna River and its tributaries from the southern part of what is now New York, through Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Susquehanna in Maryland at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay...

 Indians and then marched on Philadelphia. Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob, and then met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse. Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 of the Paxton Boys. "If an Indian injures me," he asked, "does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?"

Declaration of Independence


By the time Franklin arrived in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 had begun with fighting at Lexington and Concord
Battles of Lexington and Concord
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy , and Cambridge, near Boston...

. The New England militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 had trapped the main British army in Boston. The Pennsylvania Assembly unanimously chose Franklin as their delegate to the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

. In June 1776, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five
Committee of Five
The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress drafted and presented to the Congress what became known as America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776...

 that drafted the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several small changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

.

At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

 that they must all hang together: "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Postmaster


On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

 established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

. Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position. Franklin 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. On July 26, 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, the first appointed under the Continental Congress. It established a postal system that became the United States Post Office, a system that is still in use today.

Ambassador to France: 1776–1785


In December 1776, Franklin was dispatched to France as commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission or to an individual who has been given a commission ....

 for the United States. He lived in a home in the Parisian suburb of Passy
Passy
Passy is an area of Paris, France, located in the XVIe arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It is traditionally home to many of the city's wealthiest residents.Passy was formerly a commune...

, donated by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont
Jacques-Donatien Le Ray
Jacques-Donatien Le Ray was a French "Father of the American Revolution", but later an opponent of the French Revolution. His son of the same name, known also in America as James Le Ray, eventually became a United States citizen and settled in Le Ray, New York USA.-Early life:Born in the port...

 who supported the United States. Franklin remained in France until 1785. He conducted the affairs of his country towards the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in 1778 and negotiating the Treaty of Paris (1783)
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

. During his stay in France, Benjamin Franklin was active as a freemason
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, serving as Grand Master of the Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs
Les Neuf Sœurs
Loge Les Neuf Sœurs , established in Paris in 1776, was a prominent French Masonic Lodge of the Grand Orient de France that was influential in organising French support for the American Revolution. A "Société des Neuf Sœurs," a charitable society that surveyed academic curricula, had been active at...

 from 1779 until 1781. His number was 24 in the Lodge. He was also a Past Grand Master of Pennsylvania. In 1784, when Franz Mesmer
Franz Mesmer
Franz Anton Mesmer , sometimes, albeit incorrectly, referred to as Friedrich Anton Mesmer, was a German physician with an interest in astronomy, who theorised that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects that he called magnétisme animal ...

 began to publicize his theory of "animal magnetism", which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 appointed a commission to investigate it. These included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier
Antoine Lavoisier
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier , the "father of modern chemistry", was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology...

, the physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a French physician who proposed on 10 October 1789 the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France. While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it...

, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly, and Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin also served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country. He negotiated a treaty
Treaty of Amity and Commerce (USA–Sweden)
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and Sweden, was a treaty signed on April 3, 1783 in Paris, France between the United States and Sweden...

 that was signed in April 1783. On August 27, 1783 in Paris, Franklin witnessed the world's first hydrogen balloon
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

 flight. Le Globe, created by professor Jacques Charles
Jacques Charles
Jacques Alexandre César Charles was a French inventor, scientist, mathematician, and balloonist.Charles and the Robert brothers launched the world's first hydrogen-filled balloon in August 1783, then in December 1783, Charles and his co-pilot Nicolas-Louis Robert ascended to a height of about...

 and Les Frères Robert
Robert brothers
Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

, was watched by a vast crowd as it launched from the Champ de Mars
Champ de Mars
The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius in Rome, a tribute to the Roman god of war...

 (now the site of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

). This so enthused Franklin that he subscribed financially to the next project to build a manned hydrogen balloon. 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
Robert brothers
Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

.

Constitutional Convention



When he finally returned home in 1785, Franklin occupied a position only second to that of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 as the champion of American independence. Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Duplessis
Joseph Duplessis
Joseph-Siffred Duplessis was a French painter, known for the clarity and immediacy of his portraits.He was born in Carpentras, near Avignon, into a family with an artistic bent and received his first training from his father, a surgeon and talented amateur, then with Joseph-Gabriel Imbert , who...

 that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 in Washington, D.C. After his return, Franklin became an abolitionist, freeing both of his slaves. He eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

In 1787, Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

. 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 Paris, the Treaty of Alliance
Treaty of Alliance (1778)
The Treaty of Alliance, also called The Treaty of Alliance with France, was a defensive alliance between France and the United States of America, formed in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, which promised military support in case of attack by British forces indefinitely into the future...

 with France, and the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

.

In 1787, a group of prominent ministers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster is a city in the south-central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lancaster County and one of the older inland cities in the United States, . With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities...

, proposed the foundation of a new college to be named in Franklin's honor. Franklin donated £200 towards the development of Franklin College, which is now called Franklin & Marshall College
Franklin & Marshall College
Franklin & Marshall College is a four-year private co-educational residential national liberal arts college in the Northwest Corridor neighborhood of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States....

.

Between 1771 and 1788, he finished his autobiography
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs...

. While it was at first addressed to his son, it was later completed for the benefit of mankind at the request of a friend.

In his later years, as Congress was forced to deal with the issue of slavery, Franklin wrote several essays that attempted to convince his readers of the importance of the abolition of slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 and of the integration of blacks into American society. These writings included:
  • An Address to the Public, (1789)
  • A Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks (1789), and
  • Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the Slave Trade (1790).


In 1790, Quakers from New York and Pennsylvania presented their petition for abolition. Their argument against slavery was backed by the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society and its president, Benjamin Franklin.

President of Pennsylvania


Special balloting conducted October 18, 1785 unanimously elected Franklin the sixth President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania
Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania comprised the executive branch of the Pennsylvania State government between 1777 and 1790...

, replacing John Dickinson
John Dickinson (delegate)
John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of...

. The office of President of Pennsylvania was analogous to the modern position of Governor. It is not clear why Dickinson needed to be replaced with less than two weeks remaining before the regular election. Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the Constitutional limit of three full terms. 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. Officially, his term concluded on November 5, 1788, but there is some question regarding the de facto end of his term, suggesting that the aging Franklin may not have been actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the Council toward the end of his time in office.

Virtue, religion, and personal beliefs


Like the other advocates of republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

, 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 aphorism
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

s. 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
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 in Paris and asked this great apostle of the Enlightenment 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
Cotton Mather
Cotton Mather, FRS was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author and pamphleteer; he is often remembered for his role in the Salem witch trials...

, 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 famous 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.

Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in 1728. It did not mention many of the Puritan ideas as regards belief in salvation, the divinity of Jesus, and indeed most religious dogma. He clarified himself as a deist
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 in his 1771 autobiography, although he still considered himself a Christian. He retained a strong faith in a God as the wellspring of morality and goodness in man, and as a Providential actor in history responsible for American independence.

It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

 in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:

 ... 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.


However, the motion met with resistance and was never brought to a vote.

Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical minister George Whitefield
George Whitefield
George Whitefield , also known as George Whitfield, was an English Anglican priest who helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain, and especially in the British North American colonies. He was one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally...

 during the First Great Awakening
First Great Awakening
The First Awakening was a Christian revitalization movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion. It resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of personal...

. Franklin did not subscribe to Whitefield’s theology, but he admired Whitefield for exhorting people to worship God through good works. Franklin published all of Whitefield’s sermons and journals, thereby boosting the Great Awakening.

When he stopped attending church, Franklin wrote in his autobiography:

...Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.


Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently. He had a “passion for virtue.” These Puritan values included his devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity and community spirit.

The classical authors read in the Enlightenment period taught an abstract ideal of republican government
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 based on hierarchical social orders of king, aristocracy and commoners. It was widely believed that English liberties relied on their balance of power, but also hierarchal deference to the privileged class. “Puritanism ... and the epidemic evangelism of the mid-eighteenth century, had created challenges to the traditional notions of social stratification” by preaching that the Bible taught all men are equal, that the true value of a man lies in his moral behavior, not his class, and that all men can be saved. Franklin, steeped in Puritanism and an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical movement, rejected the salvation dogma, but embraced the radical notion of egalitarian democracy.

Franklin’s commitment to teach these values was itself something he gained from his Puritan upbringing, with its stress on “inculcating virtue and character in themselves and their communities.” These Puritan values and the desire to pass them on, were one of Franklin’s quintessentially American characteristics, and helped shape the character of the nation. Franklin's writings on virtue
Virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

 were derided by some European authors, such as Jackob Fugger in his critical work Portrait of American Culture. Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 considered Franklin's ethical writings a culmination of the Protestant ethic
Protestant work ethic
The Protestant work ethic is a concept in sociology, economics and history, attributable to the work of Max Weber...

, which ethic created the social conditions necessary for the birth of capitalism.

One of Franklin's famous characteristics was his respect, tolerance and promotion of all churches. Referring to his experience in Philadelphia, he wrote in his autobiography
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs...

, "new Places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary Contribution, my Mite for such purpose, whatever might be the Sect, was never refused." “He helped create a new type of nation that would draw strength from its religious pluralism.” The first generation of Puritans had been intolerant of dissent, but by the early 18th century, when Franklin grew up in the Puritan church, tolerance of different churches was the norm, and Massachusetts was known, in John Adams' words, as “’the most mild and equitable establishment of religion that was known in the world.’” The evangelical revivalists who were active mid-century, such as Franklin’s friend and preacher, George Whitefield, were the greatest advocates of religious freedom, “claiming liberty of conscience to be an ‘inalienable right of every rational creature.’” Whitefield’s supporters in Philadelphia, including Franklin, erected “a large, new hall, that...could provide a pulpit to anyone of any belief.” Franklin’s rejection of dogma and doctrine and his stress on the God of ethics and morality and civic virtue
Civic virtue
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy...

, made him the “prophet of tolerance.” While he was living in London in 1774, he was present at the birth of British Unitarianism
General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches is the umbrella organisation for Unitarian, Free Christian and other liberal religious congregations in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1928, with denominational roots going back to the Great Ejection of 1662...

, attending the inaugural session of the Essex Street Chapel
Essex Street Chapel
Essex Street Chapel, also known as Essex Church, is a Unitarian place of worship in London. It was the first church in England set up with this doctrine, and was established at a time when Dissenters still faced legal threat...

, at which Theophilus Lindsey
Theophilus Lindsey
Theophilus Lindsey was an English theologian and clergyman who founded the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in the country, at Essex Street Chapel.-Life:...

 drew together the first avowedly Unitarian
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 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
Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813
The Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

.

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
A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain
A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain is a philosophical pamphlet by Benjamin Franklin, published in London in 1725.It argues that an omnipotent, benevolent God is incompatible with notions of human free will and morality....

, which he later saw as an embarrassment, while simultaneously asserting that God is "all wise, all good
Omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". It is often held to be impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such property along side omniscience and omnipotence as a result of the problem of evil...

, all powerful
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

." 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. Moreover, because of his proposal that prayers
Prayer in Christianity
Prayer has been an essential part of Christianity since its earliest days. Prayer is an integral element of the Christian faith and permeates all forms of Christian worship...

 be said in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, many have contended that in his later life, Franklin became a pious Christian.

At one point, he wrote to Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

, criticizing his manuscript, The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of...

:
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
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: "The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 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."

In 1790, just about a month before he died, Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles
Ezra Stiles
Ezra Stiles was an American academic and educator, a Congregationalist minister, theologian and author. He was president of Yale College .-Early life:...

, president of Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, who had asked him his views on religion:
On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed a three-member committee composed of Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to design the Great Seal of the United States
Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the United States federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself , and more generally for the design impressed upon it...

. Franklin's proposal (which was not adopted) featured the motto: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" and a scene from the Book of Exodus, with Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, the Israelites, the pillar of fire
Pillar of Fire (theophany)
A Pillar of Fire was one of the manifestations of the presence of the God of Israel in the Torah. According to Exodus, the pillar of fire provided light so that Jews could travel by night during the Exodus from Egypt . The pillar of fire is traditionally paired with the manifestation of the divine...

, and George III depicted as pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

. The design that was produced was never acted upon by Congress and the Great Seal's design was not finalized until a third committee was appointed in 1782.

Thirteen Virtues


Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs...

 lists his 13 virtues as:
  1. "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
  2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
  3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
  4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
  5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
  6. "Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
  7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
  8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
  9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
  10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
  11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
  12. "Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
  13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates
    Socrates
    Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

    ."


Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week "leaving all others to their ordinary chance". While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues and by his own admission, he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, "I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit."

Franklin on U.S. Postage


Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure in American history comparable to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and as such he has been honored on US Postage stamps many times. The image of Franklin, the first Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

 of the United States, occurs on the face of U.S. Postage more than any other notable American, save that of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

. Franklin appeared on the first U.S. postage stamp (displayed above) issued in 1847. From 1908 through 1923 the U.S. Post Office issued a series of postage stamps commonly referred to as the Washington-Franklin Issues
Washington-Franklin Issues
The Washington - Franklin Issues are a series of definitive U.S. Postage stamps depicting George Washington and Benjamin Franklin produced by the U.S. Post Office between 1908 and 1922...

 where, along with George Washington, Franklin was depicted many times over a 14-year period, the longest run of any one series in US postal history. Along with the regular issue stamps Franklin however only appears on a few commemorative stamps. Some of the finest portrayals of Franklin on record can be found on the engravings inscribed on the face of US postage.


Death and legacy






Franklin died on April 17, 1790, at age 84. Approximately 20,000 people attended his funeral. He was interred in Christ Church Burial Ground
Christ Church Burial Ground
Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is an important early-American cemetery. It is the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Four other signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson, Joseph Hewes...

 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:

I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection. (Extended excerpt also online.)


His death is described in the book The Life of Benjamin Franklin, quoting from the account of Dr. John Jones:

...when the pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthume, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had power; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed; a calm, lethargic state succeeded; and on the 17th instant (April 1790), about eleven o'clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months.


A signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Franklin is considered one of the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 of the U.S. His pervasive influence in the early history of the United States has led to his being jocularly called "the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States." Franklin's likeness is ubiquitous. Since 1928, it has adorned American $100 bills
United States one hundred-dollar bill
The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

, which are sometimes referred to in slang as "Benjamins" or "Franklins." From 1948 to 1963, Franklin's portrait was on the half dollar
Franklin half dollar
The Franklin half dollar is a coin that was struck by the United States Mint from 1948 to 1963. The fifty-cent piece pictures Founding Father Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse. A small eagle was placed to the right of the bell to fulfill the legal requirement...

. He has appeared on a $50 bill
United States fifty-dollar bill
The United States fifty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. Ulysses S. Grant is currently featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse. All current-issue $50 bills are Federal Reserve Notes....

 and on several varieties of the $100 bill from 1914 and 1918. Franklin appears on the $1,000 Series EE Savings bond. The city of Philadelphia contains around 5,000 likenesses of Benjamin Franklin, about half of which are located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a scenic boulevard that runs through the cultural heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Named for favorite son Benjamin Franklin, the mile-long Parkway cuts diagonally across the grid plan pattern of Center City's Northwest quadrant...

 (a major thoroughfare) and Benjamin Franklin Bridge
Benjamin Franklin Bridge
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge , originally named the Delaware River Bridge, is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey...

 (the first major bridge to connect Philadelphia with New Jersey) are named in his honor.

In 1976, as part of a bicentennial
United States Bicentennial
The United States Bicentennial was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to the historical events leading up to the creation of the United States as an independent republic...

 celebration, Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 dedicated a 20-foot (6 m) marble statue in Philadelphia's Franklin Institute as the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
Benjamin Franklin National Memorial — located in the rotunda of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — features a colossal seated statue of Benjamin Franklin. The high memorial, sculpted by James Earle Fraser between 1906 and 1911, honors the writer, inventor and American...

. Many of Franklin's personal possessions are also on display at the Institute, one of the few national memorials located on private property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

.

In London, his house at 36 Craven Street was first marked with a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 and has since been opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House
Benjamin Franklin House
Benjamin Franklin House is a museum in a terraced house in Craven Street, London, close to Trafalgar Square. It is the only surviving former home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The house dates from circa 1730 and Franklin lived and worked there for sixteen...

. In 1998, workmen restoring the building dug up the remains of six children and four adults hidden below the home. The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 reported on February 11, 1998:

Initial estimates are that the bones are about 200 years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: "I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest."


The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House (the organization responsible for the restoration) note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson, who lived in the house for two years and who had built a small anatomy school at the back of the house. They note that while Franklin likely knew what Hewson was doing, he probably did not participate in any dissections because he was much more of a physicist than a medical man.

Bequest


Franklin bequeathed
Bequest
A bequest is the act of giving property by will. Strictly, "bequest" is used of personal property, and "devise" of real property. In legal terminology, "bequeath" is a verb form meaning "to make a bequest."...

 £1,000 (about $4,400 at the time, or about $55,000 in 2010 dollars) each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, in trust to gather interest for 200 years. The trust began in 1785 when the French mathematician Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour
Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour
Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour was a French art critic, mathematician, financier, and essayist...

, who admired Franklin greatly, wrote a friendly parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanack" called "Fortunate Richard." The main character leaves a smallish amount of money in his will, five lots of 100 livres
French livre
The livre was the currency of France until 1795. Several different livres existed, some concurrently. The livre was the name of both units of account and coins.-Etymology:...

, to collect interest over one, two, three, four or five full centuries, with the resulting astronomical sums to be spent on impossibly elaborate utopian projects. Franklin, who was 79 years old at the time, wrote thanking him for a great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest of 1,000 pounds each to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia. As of 1990, more than $2,000,000 had accumulated in Franklin's Philadelphia trust, which had loaned the money to local residents. From 1940 to 1990, the money was used mostly for mortgage loans. When the trust came due, Philadelphia decided to spend it on scholarships for local high school students. Franklin's Boston trust fund accumulated almost $5,000,000 during that same time; at the end of its first 100 years a portion was allocated to help establish a trade school
Vocational school
A vocational school , providing vocational education, is a school in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job...

 that became the Franklin Institute of Boston
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts is one of New England's oldest colleges of engineering and technologies. The college was established with funds bequethed in Benjamin Franklin's will.-History:...

 and the whole fund was later dedicated to supporting this institute.

Exhibitions


"The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova
Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova
Princess Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova was the closest female friend of Empress Catherine the Great and a major figure of the Russian Enlightenment...

, 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 and the only woman to be so honored for another 80 years. Later, Dashkova reciprocated by making him the first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....

.

Places and things named after Benjamin Franklin



As a founding father of the United States, Franklin's name has been attached to many things. Among these are:
  • The State of Franklin
    State of Franklin
    The State of Franklin, known also as the Free Republic of Franklin or the State of Frankland , was an unrecognized autonomous United States territory created in 1784 from part of the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains that had been offered,...

    , a short-lived independent state formed during the American Revolutionary War
  • Counties
    County (United States)
    In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state , usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S...

     in at least 16 U.S. States
  • The city of Franklin
    Franklin, Louisiana
    Franklin is a city in and the parish seat of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 8,354 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Morgan City Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

    , the parish seat
    County seat
    A county seat is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish. The term is primarily used in the United States....

     of St. Mary Parish
    St. Mary Parish, Louisiana
    St. Mary Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Franklin. As of 2000, the population was 53,500.The Morgan City Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of St. Mary Parish.-Geography:...

     in south Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

  • Several major landmarks in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Franklin's long time home, including:
    • Franklin and Marshall College in nearby Lancaster
      Lancaster, Pennsylvania
      Lancaster is a city in the south-central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lancaster County and one of the older inland cities in the United States, . With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities...

    • Franklin Field
      Franklin Field
      Franklin Field is the University of Pennsylvania's stadium for football, field hockey, lacrosse, sprint football, and track and field . It is also used by Penn students for recreation, and for intramural and club sports, including touch football and cricket, and is the site of Penn's graduation...

      , a football
      American football
      American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

       field once home to the Philadelphia Eagles
      Philadelphia Eagles
      The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

       of the National Football League
      National Football League
      The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

       and the home field of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers
      University of Pennsylvania
      The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

       since 1895
    • The Benjamin Franklin Bridge
      Benjamin Franklin Bridge
      The Benjamin Franklin Bridge , originally named the Delaware River Bridge, is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey...

       across the Delaware River
      Delaware River
      The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

       between Philadelphia and Camden
      Camden, New Jersey
      The city of Camden is the county seat of Camden County, New Jersey. It is located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 77,344...

      , New Jersey
    • The Franklin Institute
      Franklin Institute
      The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...

      , a science museum
      Science museum
      A science museum or a science centre is a museum devoted primarily to science. Older science museums tended to concentrate on static displays of objects related to natural history, paleontology, geology, industry and industrial machinery, etc. Modern trends in museology have broadened the range of...

       in Philadelphia, which presents the Benjamin Franklin Medal
      Benjamin Franklin Medal (Franklin Institute)
      The Benjamin Franklin Medal is a science and engineering award presented by the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia, PA, USA.-Laureates:*1998 - Emmanuel Desurvire *1998 - Robert B. Laughlin *1998 - David N. Payne...

  • The Sons of Ben
    Sons of Ben (MLS supporters association)
    The Sons of Ben is an independent supporters group for Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. The group was created in January 2007 by soccer fans from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its greater metropolitan area, using such existing Major League Soccer fan clubs as the Screaming Eagles, La...

     soccer supporters club for the Philadelphia Union
  • Ben Franklin Stores
    Ben Franklin Stores
    Ben Franklin Stores are a chain of five and dime discount stores found in small towns throughout the United States currently owned by Promotions Unlimited. They are organized using a franchise system, with individual stores owned by independent proprietors. It was perhaps the first retail...

     chain of variety stores, with a key-and-spark logo
  • Franklin Templeton Investments
    Franklin Templeton Investments
    Franklin Resources Inc. is a holding company which, together with its subsidiaries, is referred to as Franklin Templeton Investments; it is an investment firm originally founded in New York in 1947 as Franklin Distributors, Inc. It is listed on the NYSE under the ticker BEN, in honor of Benjamin...

     an investment firm whose New York Stock Exchange
    New York Stock Exchange
    The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

     ticker abbreviation, BEN, is also in honor of Franklin
  • The Ben Franklin effect
    Ben Franklin effect
    The Ben Franklin effect is a psychological finding: A person who has done someone a favor is more likely to do that person another favor than they would be if they had received a favor from that person...

     from the field of psychology
    Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

  • Benjamin Franklin Shibe, baseball executive and namesake of the longtime Philadelphia baseball stadium
  • Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, the fictional character from the M*A*S*H novels, film, and television program
  • Benjamin Franklin Gates, Nicolas Cage's
    Nicolas Cage
    Nicolas Cage is an American actor, producer and director, having appeared in over 60 films including Raising Arizona , The Rock , Face/Off , Gone in 60 Seconds , Adaptation , National Treasure , Ghost Rider , Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans , and...

     character from the National Treasure
    National Treasure (franchise)
    National Treasure is a series of theatrical action-adventure mystery films distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a treasure hunter who, with the help of his father, Patrick Henry Gates , his girlfriend, Abigail Chase...

     films.
  • Several US Navy ships have been named the USS Franklin
    USS Franklin
    USS Franklin may refer to: was a 6-gun schooner, fitted out in 1775 and returned to the owner in 1776 was an 8-gun brig built in 1795, captured by corsairs from Tripoli in 1802, bought back by the Navy in 1805, and sold in 1807 was a 74-gun ship of the line launched in 1815 and broken up in 1852...

     or the USS Bonhomme Richard
    USS Bonhomme Richard
    Five ships of the United States Navy have borne the name Bonhomme Richard or Bon Homme Richard , the French language equivalent of "Goodman Richard"....

    , the latter being a French translation of his penname "Poor Richard". Two aircraft carriers, USS Franklin (CV-13)
    USS Franklin (CV-13)
    The USS Franklin , nicknamed "Big Ben," was one of 24 s built during World War II for the United States Navy, and the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in January 1944, she served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning four battle stars...

     and USS Bonhomme Richard (CV-31) were simultaneously in commission and in operation during World War II, and Franklin therefore had the distinction of having two simultaneously operational US Navy warships named in his honor.

Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin






See also


  • Thomas Birch
    Thomas Birch
    Thomas Birch was an English historian.-Life:He was the son of Joseph Birch, a coffee-mill maker, and was born at Clerkenwell....

    's newly discovered Franklin letters
  • Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc.
    Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc.
    Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc. is a short essay written in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin. It was circulated by Franklin in manuscript, but in 1755 published as an addendum to another essay....

    , by Franklin
  • William Goddard
    William Goddard (US patriot/publisher)
    William Goddard was an American patriot and printer born in New London, Connecticut who lived through the era of the American Revolution. Goddard served as an apprentice printer under James Parker and then in 1762 became an early American publisher who eventually founded several newspapers during...

  • Benjamin Franklin on postage stamps
  • U.S. Constitution, floor leader in Convention.

Biographies

  • Becker, Carl Lotus. "Benjamin Franklin," Dictionary of American Biography (1931) – vol 3, with hot links online
  • Brands, H.A.. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (2000)- excellent long scholarly biography excerpt and text search, well written popular biography
  • Ketcham, Ralph. Benjamin Franklin (1966) 228 pp online edition, short biography by scholar
  • Lemay, J. A. Leo. The Life of Benjamin Franklin the most detailed scholarly biography, with very little interpretation; 3 volumes appeared before the author's death in 2008
  • Morgan, Edmund S
    Edmund Morgan
    Edmund Sears Morgan , an eminent authority on early American history, is Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University, where he taught from 1955 to 1986.-Life:...

    . Benjamin Franklin (2003) the best short introduction excerpt and text search, interpretation by leading scholar
  • Schiff, Stacy
    Stacy Schiff
    Stacy Madeleine Schiff is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American nonfiction author and guest columnist for The New York Times.-Biography:...

    , A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, (2005) Henry Holt
  • Van Doren, Carl
    Carl Clinton Van Doren
    Carl Clinton Van Doren was a U.S. critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer. He was the brother of Mark Van Doren and the uncle of Charles Van Doren.-Life and career:...

    . Benjamin Franklin (1938), standard older biography excerpt and text search
  • Wood, Gordon
    Gordon S. Wood
    Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

    . The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (2005), influential intellectual history by leading historian. excerpt and text search
  • Wright, Esmond
    Esmond Wright
    Esmond Wright was an English historian of the United States, Director of the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London from 1971 to 1983, a television personality, and a Conservative politician.Wright had a grammar school education in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, before winning an open...

    . Franklin of Philadelphia (1986) – excellent scholarly study excerpt and text search

For Young Readers
  • Asimov, Isaac
    Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

    . The Kite That Won The Revolution, a biography for children that focuses on Franklin's scientific and diplomatic contributions.
  • Fleming, Candace. Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life. Atheneum/Anne Schwart, 2003, 128 pages, ISBN 978-0-689-83549-0.

Scholarly studies

  • Anderson, Douglas. The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin (1997) – fresh look at the intellectual roots of Franklin
  • Buxbaum, M.H., ed. Critical Essays on Benjamin Franklin (1987)
  • Chaplin, Joyce. The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius. (2007)
  • Cohen, I. Bernard. Benjamin Franklin's Science (1990) – Cohen, the leading specialist, has several books on Franklin's science
  • Conner, Paul W. Poor Richard's Politicks (1965) – analyzes Franklin's ideas in terms of the Enlightenment and republicanism
  • Dull, Jonathan. A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1985)
  • Dray, Philip
    Philip Dray
    Philip Dray is an American writer and independent public historian, known for his comprehensive analyses of American scientific, racial, and labor history.-Awards:...

    . Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America. (2005). 279 pp.
  • Ford, Paul Leicester. The Many-Sided Franklin (1899) online edition – collection of scholarly essays
  • Gleason, Philip. "Trouble in the Colonial Melting Pot." Journal of American Ethnic History 2000 20(1): 3–17. ISSN 0278-5927 Fulltext online in Ingenta and Ebsco. Considers the political consequences of the remarks in a 1751 pamphlet by Franklin on demographic growth and its implications for the colonies. He called the Pennsylvania Germans
    Pennsylvania Dutch
    Pennsylvania Dutch refers to immigrants and their descendants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries...

     "Palatine Boors" who could never acquire the "Complexion" of the English settlers and to "Blacks and Tawneys" as weakening the social structure
    Social structure
    Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

     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.
  • Houston, Alan. Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (2009)
  • Lemay, J. A. Leo, ed. Reappraising Benjamin Franklin: A Bicentennial Perspective (1993) – scholarly essays
  • Mathews, L. K. “Benjamin Franklin’s Plans for a Colonial Union, 1750–1775.” American Political Science Review 8 (August 1914): 393–412. online edition
  • Olson, Lester C. Benjamin Franklin's Vision of American Community: A Study in Rhetorical Iconology. (2004). 323 pp.
  • McCoy, Drew R. "Benjamin Franklin's Vision of a Republican Political Economy for America." William and Mary Quarterly 1978 35(4): 607–628. in JSTOR
  • Newman, Simon P. "Benjamin Franklin and the Leather-Apron Men: The Politics of Class in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia," Journal of American Studies, Aug 2009, Vol. 43#2 pp 161–175; Franklin took pride in his working class origins and his printer's skills
  • Schiff, Stacy. A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005) (UK title Dr Franklin Goes to France)
  • Schiffer, Michael Brian. Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment. (2003). 383 pp.
  • Stuart Sherman "Franklin" 1918 article on Franklin's writings.
  • Skemp, Sheila L. Benjamin and William Franklin: Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist (1994)- Ben's son was a leading Loyalist
  • Sletcher, Michael. 'Domesticity: The Human Side of Benjamin Franklin', Magazine of History, XXI (2006).
  • Waldstreicher, David. Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution. Hill and Wang, 2004. 315 pp.
  • Walters, Kerry S.
    Kerry S. Walters
    Kerry S. Walters is a Professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg College and award-winning author of numerous books on philosophy and religion.-Career:...

     Benjamin Franklin and His Gods. (1999). 213 pp. Takes position midway between D. H. Lawrence's brutal 1930 denunciation of Franklin's religion as nothing more than a bourgeois commercialism tricked out in shallow utilitarian moralisms and Owen Aldridge's sympathetic 1967 treatment of the dynamism and protean character of Franklin's "polytheistic" religion.
  • York, Neil. "When Words Fail: William Pitt, Benjamin Franklin and the Imperial Crisis of 1766," Parliamentary History, Oct 2009, Vol. 28#3 pp 341–374

Primary sources

  • Silence Dogood, The Busy-Body, & Early Writings (J.A. Leo Lemay, ed.) (Library of America
    Library of America
    The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher of classic American literature.- Overview and history :Founded in 1979 with seed money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the LoA has published over 200 volumes by a wide range of authors from Mark Twain to Philip...

    , 1987 one-volume, 2005 two-volume) ISBN 978-1-93108222-8
  • Autobiography, Poor Richard, & Later Writings (J.A. Leo Lemay, ed.) (Library of America
    Library of America
    The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher of classic American literature.- Overview and history :Founded in 1979 with seed money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the LoA has published over 200 volumes by a wide range of authors from Mark Twain to Philip...

    , 1987 one-volume, 2005 two-volume) ISBN 978-1-88301153-6
  • Benjamin Franklin Reader edited by Walter Isaacson (2003)
  • Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography edited by J. A. Leo Lemay and P. M. Zall, (Norton Critical Editions, 1986); 390pp; text, contemporary documents and 20th century analysis
  • Houston, Alan, ed. Franklin: The Autobiography and other Writings on Politics, Economics, and Virtue. Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2004. 371 pp.
  • Ketcham, Ralph, ed. The Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin. (1965, reprinted 2003). 459 pp.
  • Leonard Labaree, and others., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 39 vols. to date (1959–2008), definitive edition, through 1783. This massive collection of BF's writings, and letters to him, is available in large academic libraries. It is most useful for detailed research on specific topics. The complete text of all the documents are online and searchable; The Index is also online.
  • "The Way to Wealth
    The Way to Wealth
    "The Way to Wealth" is an essay written by Benjamin Franklin in 1758. It is a collection of adages and advice presented in Poor Richard's Almanac during its first 25 years of publication, organized into a speech given by "Father Abraham" to a group of people. Many of the phrases Father Abraham...

    ." Applewood Books; November 1986. ISBN 0-918222-88-5
  • "Poor Richard's Almanack." Peter Pauper Press; November 1983. ISBN 0-88088-918-7
  • Poor Richard Improved by Benjamin Franklin (1751)
  • "Writings (Franklin)|Writings." ISBN 0-940450-29-1
  • "On Marriage."
  • "Satires and Bagatelles."
  • "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain
    A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain
    A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain is a philosophical pamphlet by Benjamin Franklin, published in London in 1725.It argues that an omnipotent, benevolent God is incompatible with notions of human free will and morality....

    ."
  • "Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School." Carl Japikse, Ed. Frog Ltd.; Reprint ed. May 2003. ISBN 1-58394-079-0
  • "Heroes of America Benjamin Franklin"

External links





Biographical and guides

Online writings

Autobiography

In the arts