Franklin, Benjamin

STATESMAN, PHILOSOPHER, SCIENTIST (GREAT-BRITAIN)
BORN 17 Jan 1706, Boston, Massachusetts: Milk Street - DIED 17 Apr 1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
GRAVE LOCATION Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Christ Church Burial Grounds, Arch Street (Very near 5th and Arch Streets corner)

Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father of the USA. His father emigrated from England to Boston in 1683. In 1689 he married his second wife Abiah Folge and in Benjamin was their tenth child (his father had fifteen children by then). When he was twelve he became apprentice to his brother James, a printer. After his brother founded The New-England Courant he wrote letters to it under the name of Mrs. Silende Dogood that were published. When he was seventeen he ran away to Philadelphia, where he worked for several printers.

In 1721 he started the Junto, a discussion group. He started a subscription library that was the start of the Library Company of Philadelphia. In 1728 he started a printing shop with Hugh Meredith and they published The Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1730 he started a common-law marriage with Deborah Read. Her mother had refused him when he proposed to her in 1723. During the same year he acknowledged an illegitimate son, William.

In 1733 he started "Poor Richard's Almanack" under the name of Richard Saunders. It sold very well and he wrote for it until 1758. In 1731 he became a freemason and in 1734 a Grand Master. In 1743 he founded the American Philosophical Society and in 1748 he ceased to work as a printer.

In 1749 he became the first president of the The Academy and College of Philadelphia that opened in 1751. Around 1750 he published several discoveries in the field of electricity and many other ideas and inventions were succesful.

He held many more appointments and made frequent visits to England. In 1764 he led the opposition against the Penn family and after several political adventures and some miscalculations he became a spokesman for the Americans in England. In 1767 he visited Paris and he was introduced to king Louis XV. During his stay in England he corresponded with the illustrious members of the Lunar Society and he visited Joseph Priestley in Leeds and Erasmus Darwin in Lichfeld (1772). His friendship with Darwin lasted until the end of his life. He also visited Ireland and Scotland, where he stayed with Lord Kames and David Hume. His wife Deborah died in the USA of a stroke in 1774.

In 1775 he returned from London to Philadelphia. When he arrived the American Revolution had begun. In June 1776 he was one of the five members of the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Gout prevented him from attending most meetings, but he made some changes to the manuscript that Thomas Jefferson sent him. In 1776 he went to France as commisioner for the Americans and he lived in Passy, Paris. His work was very succesful and in 1783 he negotiated the Treaty of Paris.

His ambassadorship ended in 1785 and once more he went home to Philadelphia. Soon he was elected president of Pennsylvania, a post comparable to that of governor now. In 1787 he signed the Constitution of the USA and in 1790 he supported the Quakers who were petitioning for the abolition of slavery.

Franklin wrote an autobiography between 1771 and 1788. When he died in 1790 his funeral at Christchurch Burial Ground in Philadelphia was attended by 20,000 people.

Family
• Daughter: Bache, Sarah

Related persons
• visited Helvétius, Anne-Catherine
• was a friend of Price, Richard

Sources
Benjamin Franklin - Wikipedia
• Uglow, Jenny, The Lunar Men, Farrar, Straus and Giraux, New York, 2002

Images

Plaque for Benjamin Franklin at Christ Church Burial Grounds, Philadelphia. His grave is visible behind the gate.
Picture by Androom (09 Apr 2010)

 

The grave of Benjamin Franklin at Christ Church Burial Grounds, Philadelphia.
Picture by Androom (09 Apr 2010)

 

The grave of Benjamin Franklin at Christ Church Burial Grounds, Philadelphia.
Picture by Androom (09 Apr 2010)

 

Plaque for Benjamin Franklin at Christ Church Burial Grounds, Philadelphia.
Picture by Androom (09 Apr 2010)

 

Benjamin Franklin House at 36 Craven Street, London.
Picture by Androom (14 May 2011)

 

Benjamin Franklin House at 36 Craven Street, London.
Picture by Androom (14 May 2011)

 

Statue of Benjamin Franklin at the Square de Yorktown, Paris.
Picture by Androom (06 Nov 2016)

 


Franul von Weißenthurn, Johanna

Published: 2 May 2010
Last update: 12 Sep 2017