He was the most widely known and easily recognized American of his day. Franklin's life took him from a career in printing and writing to a life of scientific research, and finally, to the diplomatic arena where he helped found and later served the new nation - The United States of America.
We are pleased to begin our series on Famous Philadelphians with a look at the life of Benjamin Franklin.
- 1706 Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17.
- 1718 Begins an apprenticeship at his brother's print shop.
- 1723 Leaves home and travels to New York and Philadelphia.
- 1724 Moves to London and continues his training as a printer.
- 1726 Returns to Philadelphia.
- 1728 Opens a print shop in Philadelphia.
- 1729 Becomes owner and publisher of "The Philadelphia Gazette."
- 1730 Takes a common law wife Deborah Reed Rogers.
- 1731 Founds first public library.
- 1732-1758 Annually publishes "Poor Richard's Almanak."
- 1737 Appointed Postmaster in Philadelphia.
- 1746 Begins experiments in electricity.
- 1748 Sells print shop and retires from the printing business.
- 1757-1762 Moves to London as Representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
- 1762 Returns to Philadelphia.
- 1775 Elected to the Continental Congress.
- 1776 Signs the Declaration of Independence.
- 1778 Negotiates Treaty of Alliance with France.
- 1779 Appointed Minister to France.
- 1782 Negotiates peace treaty with Great Britain.
- 1785 Returns to Philadelphia.
- 1787 Serves as Delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
- 1790 Dies in Philadelphia on April 17.
- Franklin stove
- glass armonica
- lightning rod
- rocking chair
- street lamp
- A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.
- Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.
- Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
- Eat to live, and not live to eat.
- Fish and visitors stink after three days.
- Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
- Little strokes fell great oaks.
- Never confuse motion with action.
- To find out a girl's faults, praise her to her girl friends.
- To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.
- Well done is better than well said.
- Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it.
Books by Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
One of the most famous works in American literature, Franklin's autobiography was begun as a private collection of anecdotes for his son, but soon transformed into a work of history, both personal and national.
The Way to Wealth
Franklin's essay on finding a successful life of wealth and happiness.
Poor Richard's Almanak
Franklin's most famous work was his "Almanak," printed at intervals from 1732 through 1758. The almanac contained agricultural predictions, charts of the moon's phases, and, in Franklin's words, "entertaining remarks."
The First American : The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
This biography of Ben Franklin sees him as both a representative of the new man--the American--and an agent of historical change, whose participation was central to the debates that shaped the new nation. This book was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize.