Ben Franklin Benjamin Franklin was one of the most influential people in American history. Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in a small town in Boston. Benjamin was one of ten children. His father, Josiah was a candle and soap maker, and his mother Abiah Folger was a homemaker. When Benjamin was only twelve years old he signed his identures so that he could apprentice under his brother, working at a printing press.
Here he worked for his brother James for over nine years. Benjamin had enormous talent, and after his apprenticeship was up, he got a job printing for the Boston Gazette. However this did not last very long, after only ten months Franklin’s contract was given to someone else. This prompted Ben to start his own newspaper called the New England Courant. This was the beginning of a long life of success for Ben Franklin. Franklin had outstanding writing talent.
His new business had done very well, but Franklin wanted more. Ben wanted to take over Philadelphia’s biggest newspapers, The Pennsylvania Gazette. In the year 1729 Franklin bought this newspaper. He renamed it (Thank Heavens) The Pennsylvania Gazette. In the year 1730 Franklin had fathered a son.
There were many rumors, as to whom the mother was, but Franklin never released her name. As a result of this Franklin wanted to get married. A woman named Deborah Read moved into his home, and became his common law wife. During this time Franklin had established himself as a leader in the Philadelphia community. He helped to establish Philadelphia’s first public library.
Franklin is also accredited with publishing the first almanac in 1732. Its name was Poor Richard’s Almanack. Benjamin Franlkin’s political career began in 1736. In this year he was elected clerk of the state legislature. Franklin had many ideas that benefited the city of Philadelphia. Upon his request a tax was established to provide better watchmen.
He also helped organize volunteer firefighters. Ben also proposed a lottery to help bring money into the city, and he chartered a university that is name after him today, called the University of Pennsylvania. Franklin’s print shop had made him a wealthy man, and in 1748 the success of the print shop had allowed Franklin to retire early. Franklin could now use his time to focus on his two other favorite things: science and politics. Soon after his retirement Franklin became extremely interested in experimenting with electricity.
Franklin was one of the first people to suggest that lightning was merely naturally occurring electricity, and that it could be drawn from the clouds. In 1752, Ben Franklin performed his kite experiment. Here Franklin had his proof of lightning’s electrical nature. Franklin wrote specifics on how the experiment was to be done, it said This kite is to be raised when a thunder-gust appears to be coming on, and the person who holds the string must stand within a door or window, or under some cover, so that the silk ribbon may not be wet; and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame of the door or window. As soon as any of the thunder-clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will draw electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger.
And when the rain has wet the kite and twine, so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key the phial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained. (Amacher 141) This experiment is one that gave Ben Franklin international fame. This however is not the only scientific material that Franklin studied. He also studied weather, and storm patterns.
Franklin also studied medicine. When one of his brothers was sick he invented the instrument known as the catheter. Franklin was not a one sided person, he studied all different subjects and helped pave the was for researchers today. Franklin was one of the most well respected people in his lifetime. Many people admired him for his well-rounded education, and his leadership abilities.
In the year of 1757 Franklin was sent to London to negotiate with the heirs of William Penn. Penn’s heirs believed that they had authority over the citizens of Pennsylvania. However he could not make a compromise with Penn’s heirs. However this trip was not a total loss. While overseas, Franklin was bestowed an honary degree from St.
Andrews University in Scotland in 1759, and from Oxford University in England in 1762. Franklin arrived back in London in 1765. At this time the English Parliament had passed the Stamp Act. Franklin did all he could to get the Stamp Act turned down, but it was out of his control. Back in the colony’s people were outraged.
No taxation without representation became the phrase for the colonist who opposed this tax. Franklin took it upon himself to represent all of America during this period. He met several times with the Brittish to try to overturn this tax. The Brittish told him that they were doing this as a way to make money they lost during the French and Indian War. Franklin refused to allow this act to be brought upon the colonists. He argued that it was the colonist’s who had aided the Brittish throughout the war.
His words had convinced parliament, and in 1766, the Stamp Act was revoked. Franklin’s trip to England was not only to meet with the Penns, but he also wanted the Brittish to realize the importance of the American colonies. Franklin believed that the Brittish undervalued, and did not appreciate what the colonist did for them. Although Franklin was considered an elite member of the community during this time, he felt that he was just an ordinary citizen. Despite Franklin’s prestige, he dressed and lived simply. Franklin believed that rich intellect was far more value, then having a lot of money.
In 1762, Franklin returned home from England. When he got home, he had been informed that he had been elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature. While serving on this legislature he arranged mail delivery between New York, and Quebec. Franklin also established a twenty-four hour service between the major cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Shortly after the Revolutionary War had begun Franklin was chosen to represent Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress.
They meet on May 10, 1775, Franklin was the oldest man who had attended. At this time Franklin was appointed as postmaster of the colonies. While at these meetings, Franklin presented his Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. This was a plan to unite the thirteen colonies as one national confederation. This plan was not immediately excepted, but it would later serve as a model for the first constitution. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formed a committee consisting of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. During this time Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft with help from Franklin and Adams.
On July 4, 1776, Jefferson’s final copy was adopted. This in turn intensified the war with Great Brittain. The Brittish sent out more and more troops to the colonies. Once again Franklin was called on for help. This time he was asked to head a clandestine diplomatic mission. Franklin along with two other men were sent to France to seek help.
Once Franklin Arrived in France he was view as a hero. The French people were on the American’s side. They respected there reasons for fighting the Brittish. Franklin was able to recruit some French citizens to fight for the colonies. Despite initial hesitation the French Government decided to give aide to the colonies after the Americans had won the Battle of Saratogo in 1777. During this time of war Franklin had invented bifocals to help him overcome his eye sight problems. The war had ended in 1781, and the Treaty of Paris was signed on 1783.
Shortly after this time Franklin sailed home in the year of 1785. When Franklin returned home to Pennsylvania he was not well. He was given a hero’s welcome when his ship sailed into the Philadelphia Harbor. In the year 1787 during the Constitutional Convention Franklin was once again chosen as a delegate from Pennsylvania. Franklin was the oldest person at this meeting, and although he did not support all of the aspects of the constitution he did sign it. While still at Independence Hall Franklin had noticed the president’s chair, which had a rising sun painted on it.
He had looked at the chair for a moment, and then said: I have often..in the course of this session .. looked at that .. without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not setting sun. (Franklin 166) This remark is a perfect way to describe Franklin who was a rising sun well into his eighties. Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790. On April 21, the day of Franklin’s funeral over twenty thousand people came to say goodbye to a man they all looked up to and admired.
Ben Franklin influenced many people during his life, and still does today. If it had not been for his intellectual, and scientific abilities our country may have been a different place than it is today. American History.