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The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you

are dead and rotten, either write things worth

reading, or do things worth the writing."

America has never forgotten Benjamin Franklin because he did both. He lived these words of wisdom by writing as much as he possibly could and by doing even more. He became famous for being a scientist, an inventor, a statesman, a printer, a philosopher, a musician, and an economist. Today, we honor Ben Franklin as one of our Founding Fathers and as one of America's greatest citizens. Although he was born in Boston, the city of Philadelphia is remembered as the home of Ben Franklin. In Philadelphia, you can find both Ben's gravesite and the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. You'll also find the Franklin Institute Science Museum.

This quick glimpse at the long life (1706-1790) of a complex man is meant to help you learn about Ben Franklin and also to let you see how Ben's ideas are still alive in our world today.



  1706      Born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17
  1718      Begins an apprenticeship in his brother James' printing shop in Boston
  1723      Age 17, leaves his family, running away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  1724      Moves to London, continuing his training as a printer
  1726      Returns to Philadelphia
  1728      Opens his own Printing Office in Philadelphia
  1729      Becomes sole owner and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette
  1730      Marries Deborah Read Rogers
  1731      Birth of Ben's son William; Founds the first Circulating Library
  1732      Birth of Ben's son Francis
  1732-     Annually, publishes Poor Richard: An Almanac
  1736      Death of Ben's young son Francis; Founds the Union Fire Company 
              in Philadelphia
  1737      Appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia
  1742      Proposes the idea for the University Of Pennsylvania
  1743      Birth of Ben's daughter Sarah, also known as "Sally"
  1745      Death of Ben's father, Josiah Franklin
  1747      First writings of electrical experimentation; organizes the first Militia
  1748      Sells printing office, retiring from business
  1751      His book Experiments and Observations on Electricity is 
              published in London
  1752      In June, performs famous kite experiment; Death of Ben's mother, 
              Abiah Folger Franklin; Founds first American fire insurance company
  1757-     Travels in London as representative of 
   1762       the Pennsylvania Assembly
  1762      Returns to Philadelphia
  1764      Travels to London
  1767      Travels to France
  1769      Elected president of the American Philosophical Society
  1774      The Hutchinson Letters Affairs damages
              Franklin's reputation; While in London, Ben receives word of 
              his wife's death
  1775      Returns to Philadelphia; Elected to Continental
              Congress; Submits Articles of Confederation of United Colonies
  1776      Signs the Declaration Of Independence; Presides at
              Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention;
              Sails to France as American Commissioner
  1778      Negotiates and signs Treaty of Alliance with France
  1779      Appointed Minister to France
  1782      Negotiates, with John Adams and John Jay, the
              Treaty of Peace with Great Britain
  1783      While in Paris, watches the Montgolfier brothers
              become the first men to fly in a balloon.
  1784      Negotiates treaties with Prussia and other European countries
  1785      Returns to Philadelphia
  1787      Elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting 
              the Abolition of  Slavery;  Serves as delegate to the 
              Constitutional Convention
  1790      At age 84, Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia on April 17



Online Resources:

The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial

The Franklin Institute Science Museum