Born: January 17, 1706
Education: Self-taught, apprenticed as a printer. Honorary Doctor of Laws, Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. |
Works: Printer, Publisher, Scientist. Clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly, 1736; Founded the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1731; Postmaster of Philadelphia, 1737-1753; Member of Pennsylvania Assembly, 1751-1764; Deputy Postmastergeneral of the British colonies in America, 1753; Founded Academy of Sciences of Philadelphia, 1753; Agent to Europe for Pennsylvania, 1757-1762, for Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, 1764-1775; Elected to Continental Congress, 1775; Testified before Parliament concerning the Stamp Act, 1776; Postmaster General of the united colonies, 1775; Commissioner to the French Court, 1776;Minister plenipotentiary to the French Court, 1779; Negotiator in and Member of the Treaties with Gr.-Britain, 1781-1783; Member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, President of Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, 1785; Senior member of the Constitutional Convention, 1787. |
Died: April 17, 1790 |
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. He was thetenth son of soap maker, Josiah Franklin. Benjamin's mother was Abiah Folger, the second wife of Josiah.
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 wasconvinced by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London, ostensibly to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith's promises of backing a newspaper to be empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer's shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in the Smithfield area of London. Following this, he returned toPhiladelphia 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 gaverise 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, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company ofPhiladelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. 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 LibraryCompany is now a great scholarly and research library with 500,000 rare books, pamphlets, and broadsides, more than 160,000 manuscripts, and 75,000 graphic items.
Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod, glass armonica, Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. Franklin never patented his inventions; in hisautobiography 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."
In 1736, Franklin created the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America. In the same year, he printed a new currency for New Jersey based on innovative...