Benjamin Franklin was born on January 6, 1706 in Milk Street to Josiah Franklin, a tallow chandler and Abiah Franklin. Benjamin was his fifteenth child and the eighth of his mother. Josiah Franklin took great interest in his favorite son Benjamin and taught him how to debate and write effectively. Ben respected his father a great deal and he even went to school planning to become a minister just as his father wanted. He however gave up the idea of becoming a minister as he became more interested in reading and writing. He was later apprenticed to his older brother, James who owned a printing house in Boston and published the New England Courant.
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Ben was apprenticed when he was just 12 and although they did not get along well with his brother, Ben learnt a lot and was always a big help. He became a contributor to the Journal New England Courant and later a nominal editor. When James was arrested for holding rebellious political ideas, Ben took over the paper until James' release. Later Ben broke contact with his Brother and left, first for New York then later to Philadelphia where he arrived in October of 1723. After both parents died, Ben had them buried and erected a monument to them in a famous Boston cemetery.
In Philadelphia Benjamin worked for a man named Samuel Keimer. The relationship between Benjamin and Samuel deteriorated and in the end they eventually split. Ben befriended prominent political figures including the royal governor, Sir William Keith who offered to set him up his own printer and sent him to England to get supplies. When in England he learnt that William Keith was a liar and a cheat. He became stranded in England and got work at Watts printing shop where he worked hard, learning his craft and made important connections. After saving up enough money he returned to America with his friend Mr. Denham, who offered him a job in his business. When Mr. Denman died Ben returned to his former trade and went back to work for Samuel Keimer.
He didn't last long and with the help of another former Samuel Keimer's employee, Hugh Meredith they put up a printing house. Despite the stiff competition, they fought on and soon got lucky breaks, like printing the Pennsylvania Gazette where Ben contributed many essays which made a medium for stirring up a variety of local reforms. Hugh Meredith gave up from the business leaving Benjamin who continued to succeed and was even given the contracts to print paper money, his fiercest rival Samuel Keimer later retired.
In 1728, Benjamin fathered a child named William. The mother of William is not known, but he married his old flame Deborah Read in 1730. Deborah had earlier been married while Benjamin was in England but after Benjamin's return her husband had ran away making her eligible to get married again. In addition to running a print shop, the Franklins also ran their own store at this time, with Deborah selling everything from soap to fabric. Ben also ran a book store. They were quite innovative.
In 1732 Ben started the Poor Richard's Almanac for the improvement of which he composed those worldly wisdom which are the basis of his popular status. Franklin continued his civic contributions during the 1730's and 1740's. He helped launch projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia's streets. He started working up for environmental cleaning.
Benjamin assisted in founding a gentleman's club called the Junto, which was for talking about and debating philosophical and scientific ideas .One of Junto's first big project was creating a subscription library. During this time books were limited and expensive. Franklin acknowledged that by pooling together resources and members who could afford to buy books from England. Thus was born the nation's first subscription library. In 1743, he helped to launch the American Philosophical Society, the first learned society in America.
He also recognized that the city needed better help in treating the sick, so he brought together a group who formed the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751 which is still in existence later on in 1736, he organized Philadelphia's Union Fire Company, the first in the city. And in 1752 he helped found the Philadelphia contribution for insurance against loss by fire to help those who suffered irreparable economic loss due to fire damages. Among Franklin's other inventions are swim fins, the glass armonica, a musical instrument, and bifocals.
Franklin became attracted to the study of electricity in 1746 in a period in which scientists around the globe were investigating the phenomena of static electricity. His observations, including his kite experiment which verified the nature of electricity and lightning brought him international fame.
In 1753, he was awarded honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale, and became Postmaster General of America. When war broke out between England and France in 1754, Franklin drafted proposals outlining means by which funds could be raised for colonial defense. He was succeessful in many of his proposals, and personally he played a large part in organizing the war endeavor.
Politics became more of an energetic interest for Franklin in the 1750's. In 1757, he went to England to represent Pennsylvania in its fight with the descendants of the Penn family over who should represent the Colony. In England he became a colonial representative for Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. He remained in England until 1775. He fell in love with England and tried many times to persuade his wife Deborah to visit him but in vain because she was afraid of travelling in ships.
When he went back to America, he started worked actively for Independence while always thinking that his son William who was now the Royal governor of New Jersey would agree with his views. But William did not because he was a Loyal Englishman. This caused a rift between them that was never unraveled.
Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of five that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. Franklin contributed a lot in the declaration of independence but much of the writing belonged to Thomas. After signing the declaration in 1776 Franklin sailed to France to become an ambassador to the Court of Louis XVI.
In France he was loved a lot because of his previous achievements and humbleness. He was especially a favorite with the ladies because he was a notorious flirt since his wife was already deceased. His popularity was an achievement to America because it helped France sign a Treaty of Alliance with the Americans in 1778.He also helped secure loans and persuaded the French that they were doing the right thing. Franklin was on hand to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1783, after the Americans had won the Revolution.
In his late seventies, Benjamin returned to America and became the President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. One of his last memoriable public act was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84 and his funeral was attended by more than 20,000 people. His electric personality, will forever light the world.
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