At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by John Hancock that they must all hang together: Well known as a printer and publisher, Franklin was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia in , holding the office until , when he and publisher William Hunter were named deputy postmasters—general of British North America, the first to hold the office. Joint appointments were standard at the time, for political reasons.
Franklin was responsible for the British colonies from Pennsylvania north and east, as far as the island of Newfoundland. A post office for local and outgoing mail had been established in Halifax, Nova Scotia , by local stationer Benjamin Leigh, on April 23, , but service was irregular. Franklin opened the first post office to offer regular, monthly mail in what would later become Canada, at Halifax, on December 9, Meantime, Hunter became postal administrator in Williamsburg , Virginia and oversaw areas south of Annapolis , Maryland.
Franklin reorganized the service's accounting system, then improved speed of delivery between Philadelphia, New York and Boston. By , efficiencies led to the first profits for the colonial post office. For the greater part of his appointment, Franklin lived in England from to , and again from to —about three-quarters of his term. Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position.
The report of the Committee, providing for the appointment of a postmaster general for the 13 American colonies, was considered by the Continental Congress on July 25 and It established a postal system that became the United States Post Office, a system that continues to operate today. Franklin remained in France until He conducted the affairs of his country toward the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in and negotiating the Treaty of Paris Considerations sur l'ordre de Cincinnatus.
Franklin and Mirabeau thought of it as a "noble order", inconsistent with the egalitarian ideals of the new republic. He was the th member of the Lodge. In , when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of " animal magnetism " which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it.
Franklin's advocacy for religious tolerance in France contributed to arguments made by French philosophers and politicians that resulted in Louis XVI 's signing of the Edict of Versailles in November This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleau , which had denied non-Catholics civil status and the right to openly practice their faith.
Franklin also served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country. On August 27, , in Paris, Franklin witnessed the world's first hydrogen balloon flight. When he returned home in , Franklin occupied a position only second to that of George Washington as the champion of American independence. After his return, Franklin became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves. He eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
In , Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. He held an honorary position and seldom engaged in debate. He is the only Founding Father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States: In , a group of prominent ministers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania , proposed the foundation of a new college named in Franklin's honor.
Between and , he finished his autobiography. While it was at first addressed to his son, it was later completed for the benefit of mankind at the request of a friend. Franklin strongly supported the right to freedom of speech:.
In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man Special balloting conducted October 18, , unanimously elected Franklin the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania , replacing John Dickinson.
The office was practically that of governor. Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the constitutional limit of three full terms. Shortly after his initial election he was reelected to a full term on October 29, , and again in the fall of and on October 31, In that capacity he served as host to the Constitutional Convention of in Philadelphia.
Like the other advocates of republicanism , Franklin emphasized that the new republic could survive only if the people were virtuous. All his life he explored the role of civic and personal virtue, as expressed in Poor Richard's aphorisms. Franklin felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended religious services himself.
Franklin's parents were both pious Puritans. Essays to Do Good , by the Puritan preacher and family friend Cotton Mather , which Franklin often cited as a key influence on his life. The book preached the importance of forming voluntary associations to benefit society. Franklin learned about forming do-good associations from Cotton Mather, but his organizational skills made him the most influential force in making voluntarism an enduring part of the American ethos.
Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in He clarified himself as a deist in his autobiography,  although he still considered himself a Christian. It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June , attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:. In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection.
Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it. I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
The motion met with resistance and was never brought to a vote. Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical minister George Whitefield during the First Great Awakening. Franklin did not subscribe to Whitefield's theology, but he admired Whitefield for exhorting people to worship God through good works.
Franklin published all of Whitefield's sermons and journals, thereby earning a lot of money and boosting the Great Awakening. Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.
Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently. He had a "passion for virtue". The classical authors read in the Enlightenment period taught an abstract ideal of republican government based on hierarchical social orders of king, aristocracy and commoners.
It was widely believed that English liberties relied on their balance of power, but also hierarchal deference to the privileged class. Franklin's commitment to teach these values was itself something he gained from his Puritan upbringing, with its stress on "inculcating virtue and character in themselves and their communities. Franklin's writings on virtue were derided by some European authors, such as Jackob Fugger in his critical work Portrait of American Culture.
Max Weber considered Franklin's ethical writings a culmination of the Protestant ethic , which ethic created the social conditions necessary for the birth of capitalism. One of Franklin's notable characteristics was his respect, tolerance and promotion of all churches. Referring to his experience in Philadelphia, he wrote in his autobiography , "new Places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary Contribution, my Mite for such purpose, whatever might be the Sect, was never refused.
Although Franklin's parents had intended for him to have a career in the Church,  Franklin as a young man adopted the Enlightenment religious belief in deism , that God's truths can be found entirely through nature and reason. According to David Morgan,  Franklin was a proponent of religion in general. He prayed to "Powerful Goodness" and referred to God as "the infinite".
John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker. In , just about a month before he died, Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles , president of Yale University , who had asked him his views on religion:.
As to Jesus of Nazareth , my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England , some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.
I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure. Franklin's proposal which was not adopted featured the motto: The design that was produced was never acted upon by Congress, and the Great Seal's design was not finalized until a third committee was appointed in Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 in and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life.
His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:. Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week "leaving all others to their ordinary chance. Franklin owned as many as seven slaves, two males who worked in his household and his shop. Franklin posted paid ads for the sale of slaves and for the capture of runaway slaves and allowed the sale of slaves in his general store.
Franklin profited from both the international and domestic slave trade, even criticizing slaves who had run off to join the British Army during the colonial wars of the s and s. Franklin, however, later became a "cautious abolitionist" and became an outspoken critic of landed gentry slavery.
In , Franklin advocated the opening of a school for the education of black slaves in Philadelphia. Franklin took two slaves to England with him, Peter and King, and King left his service there in After returning from England in , Franklin became more anti-slavery. By , Franklin had freed his slaves and attacked the system of slavery and the international slave trade. Franklin, however, refused to publicly debate the issue of slavery at the Constitutional Convention.
In his later years, as Congress was forced to deal with the issue of slavery, Franklin wrote several essays that stressed the importance of the abolition of slavery and of the integration of blacks into American society. Their argument against slavery was backed by the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society and its president, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin suffered from obesity throughout his middle-aged and later years, which resulted in multiple health problems, particularly gout , which worsened as he aged.
In poor health during the signing of the US Constitution in , he was rarely seen in public from then until his death. Benjamin Franklin died from pleuritic attack  at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, , at age Approximately 20, people attended his funeral. In , aged 22, Franklin wrote what he hoped would be his own epitaph:. The Body of B. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: Franklin's actual grave, however, as he specified in his final will, simply reads "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin".
His pervasive influence in the early history of the nation has led to his being jocularly called "the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States. Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway a major thoroughfare and Benjamin Franklin Bridge the first major bridge to connect Philadelphia with New Jersey are named in his honor.
Many of Franklin's personal possessions are also on display at the Institute, one of the few national memorials located on private property. In London, his house at 36 Craven Street, which is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, was first marked with a blue plaque and has since been opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House.
The Times reported on February 11, Initial estimates are that the bones are about years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from to and from to Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut.
One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest. The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House the organization responsible for the restoration note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson , who lived in the house for two years and who had built a small anatomy school at the back of the house.
They note that while Franklin likely knew what Hewson was doing, he probably did not participate in any dissections because he was much more of a physicist than a medical man. The main character leaves a smallish amount of money in his will, five lots of livres , to collect interest over one, two, three, four or five full centuries, with the resulting astronomical sums to be spent on impossibly elaborate utopian projects.
From to , the money was used mostly for mortgage loans. When the trust came due, Philadelphia decided to spend it on scholarships for local high school students. Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure in American history comparable to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, and as such he has been honored on U.
Franklin appeared on the first U. From through the U. Post Office issued a series of postage stamps commonly referred to as the Washington-Franklin Issues where, along with George Washington, Franklin was depicted many times over a year period, the longest run of any one series in U.
Along with the regular issue stamps Franklin however only appears on a few commemorative stamps. Some of the finest portrayals of Franklin on record can be found on the engravings inscribed on the face of U. Due to its licentious nature, the letter was not published in collections of Franklin's papers during the nineteenth century.
Federal court decisions from the mid-to-late twentieth century cited the document as a reason for overturning obscenity laws, using it to make a case against censorship.
Benjamin Franklin and Dashkova met only once, in Paris in Franklin was 75, and Dashkova was Franklin invited Dashkova to become the first woman to join the American Philosophical Society; she was the only woman so honored for another 80 years.
Later, Dashkova reciprocated by making him the first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. As a founding father of the United States, Franklin's name has been attached to many things. President of Pennsylvania — , Ambassador to France — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Redirected from Ben Franklin. For other uses, see Benjamin Franklin disambiguation and Franklin disambiguation. Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin 8. Ecton, Northamptonshire , England 2. December 23, , Ecton, Northamptonshire , England 5. Benjamin Franklin  [ unreliable source?
August 15, , Nantucket , Massachusetts 7. Deborah Read Franklin c. Common-law wife of Benjamin Franklin. Sarah Franklin Bache — Daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read.
Social contributions and studies by Benjamin Franklin. List of places named for Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin in popular culture U. Retrieved June 17, So, this year's tricentennial is right on time. Archived from the original on March 5, Retrieved April 25, The Anatomy of an American Aristocracy. University of Pennsylvania Press. Brands, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. Archived from the original on May 16, Retrieved January 20, The provisions of the British Calendar New Style Act , implemented in , altered the official British dating method to the Gregorian calendar with the start of the year on January 1 it had been March These changes resulted in dates being moved forward 11 days, and for those between January 1 and March 25, an advance of one year.
For a further explanation, see: Old Style and New Style dates. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Macmillan's pocket English and American classics. Retrieved February 1, Printer and Publisher, — pp. Retrieved October 7, Frantz, "Franklin and the Pennsylvania Germans.
Gleason, "Trouble in the Colonial Melting Pot. America's First Woman Editor". An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South , Vol. Editorial Policies of the 'South-Carolina Gazette,' —".
Journal of Southern History. Benjamin Franklin and the First Newspaper in Connecticut". Retrieved September 21, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online ed. Subscription or UK public library membership required.
Journal de Paris in French. Revised English version retrieved on March 11, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Colonial America Reference Library.
Retrieved February 27, Franklin's interest in electricity originated when he saw a traveling scientific lecturer, Archibald Spencer, perform an "electricity show" in Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved May 1, Archived from the original on February 18, Archived February 18, Retrieved April 23, Franklin Had It Wrong ".
Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement. The Triumph Of Numbers: How Counting Shaped Modern Life. The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 3: Soldier, Scientist, and Politician, — Journal of Economic History.
A1, B7 February 6, Benjamin Franklin's 'Sundry Maritime Observations'. Archived October 2, , at the Wayback Machine. The True Benjamin Franklin 5 ed. Longmans, Brown, and Co. Archived from the original on January 28, Retrieved September 14, Experimental researches in electricity.
Franklin's experiments on the non-conduction of ice Journal of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania. In the fourth series of his electrical researches, Mr. The Correspondence of Richard Price: February — February Retrieved October 2, In Willcox, William Bradford.
The papers of Benjamin Franklin: January 1 through December 31, Gratzer, Eurekas and Euphorias, pp. The Story of Hypnosis: The Story of Hypnosis. Retrieved 21 August The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved on April 26, Retrieved December 3, Retrieved 10 December Philadelphia , Printed by B. Retrieved August 20, In Search of a Better World. The History of the College of William and Mary.
Leo Lematy, "Franklin, Benjamin". American National Biography Online , February National Park Service ". Life of Benjamin Franklin. Edinburgh's Moment of the Mind. The Kate Kennedy Club. Archived from the original on March 27, Documents for America's History, Volume 1: Archived from the original on January 3, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. The Political Trial of Benjamin Franklin.
Skemp, The Making of a Patriot: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Retrieved April 19, The Life of Benjamin Franklin: Containing the Autobiography, with Notes and a Continuation. Whittemore, Niles and Hall. Retrieved December 16, Retrieved June 20, Historian Friedrich Christoph Schlosser remarked at the time, with ample hyperbole, that "Such was the number of portraits, busts and medallions of him in circulation before he left Paris, that he would have been recognized from them by any adult citizen in any part of the civilized world.
De la Caisse d'Escompte. Benjamin Franklin The Viking Press: Scientific Testing " American Heritage , October American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Retrieved July 28, Bradt Guide to mad, magical and marvellous France. Retrieved March 17, Words of the Founding Fathers: Archived from the original on May 31, Retrieved December 24, Autobiography and other writings.
The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity. Other Deists and natural religionists who considered themselves Christians in some sense of the word included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
The Grand Convention , pp. Archived September 5, , at the Wayback Machine. Section 2 reprinted on UShistory. Archived from the original on March 26, Archived from the original on May 28, The American Mercury, Volume 8.
It is well known that in his youth Benjamin Franklin was a thorough-going Deist, but because he proposed that prayers be said in the Constitution Convention of many have contended that in later life he became a pious Christian. Benjamin Franklin's Printing Network: Disseminating Virtue in Early America.
University of Missouri Press. Despite being raised a Puritan of the Congregationalist stripe by his parents, who "brought me through my Childhood piously in the Dissenting Way", Franklin recalled, he abandoned that denomination, briefly embraced deism, and finally became a non-denominational Protestant Christian.
Champion of Generic Religion". National Archives Oxford University Press , , pp. On the dangers of reading backwards. In His Own Words. Archived August 21, , at the Wayback Machine. The Franklin Institute Science Museum. Archived from the original on February 17, To which is added, a Letter from M. Turgot, late Comptroller-General of the Finances of France: Archived from the original on July 31, Find more about Benjamin Franklin at Wikipedia's sister projects.
This audio file was created from a revision of the article " Benjamin Franklin " dated , and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. Bache grandson Louis F. Offices and Positions Held by Benjamin Franklin. Articles related to Benjamin Franklin. The Age of Enlightenment. Robert Boyle Edmund Burke. Speakers of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly — Chief Administrators of the University of Pennsylvania.
Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence. Physical history of the Declaration of Independence , Memorial. Signatories of the United States Constitution. John Langdon Nicholas Gilman. Nathaniel Gorham Rufus King. William Samuel Johnson Roger Sherman. George Read Gunning Bedford Jr.
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He created the distinction between insulators and conductors. He invented a battery for storing electrical charges. He coined new English words for the new science of electricity— conductor , charge , discharge , condense , armature , electrify , and others.
And he demonstrated that the plus and minus charges, or states of electrification of bodies, had to occur in exactly equal amounts—a crucial scientific principle known today as the law of conservation of charge see charge conservation.
Despite the success of his electrical experiments, Franklin never thought science was as important as public service. As a leisured gentleman, he soon became involved in more high-powered public offices. He became a member of the Philadelphia City Council in , justice of the peace in , and in a city alderman and a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
Thereafter he began to think in intercolonial terms. The plan called for the establishment of a general council, with representatives from the several colonies, to organize a common defense against the French. But Franklin had become acquainted with important imperial officials, and his ambition to succeed within the imperial hierarchy had been whetted.
But Franklin and some of his allies in the assembly had a larger goal of persuading the British government to oust the Penn family as the proprietors of Pennsylvania and make that colony a royal province. Except for a two-year return to Philadelphia in —64, Franklin spent the next 18 years living in London, most of the time in the apartment of Margaret Stevenson, a widow, and her daughter Polly at 36 Craven Street near Charing Cross. His son, William, now age 27, and two slaves accompanied him to London.
Deborah and their daughter, Sally, age 14, remained in Philadelphia. In this preface Father Abraham cites only those proverbs that concern hard work, thrift, and financial prudence. Everyone wanted to paint his portrait and make mezzotints for sale to the public. Franklin fell in love with the sophistication of London and England; by contrast, he disparaged the provinciality and vulgarity of America.
He was very much the royalist, and he bragged of his connection with Lord Bute, which enabled him in to get his son, William, then age 31, appointed royal governor of New Jersey. Reluctantly, Franklin had to go back to Pennsylvania in in order to look after his post office, but he promised his friends in London that he would soon return and perhaps stay forever in England.
After losing an election to the Pennsylvania Assembly in , Franklin could hardly wait to get back to London. Deborah stayed in Philadelphia, and Franklin never saw her again.
He soon had to face the problems arising from the Stamp Act of , which created a firestorm of opposition in America. But once he saw that passage of the tax was inevitable, he sought to make the best of the situation. After all, he said, empires cost money. He ordered stamps for his printing firm in Philadelphia and procured for his friend John Hughes the stamp agency for Pennsylvania.
In the process, he almost ruined his position in American public life and nearly cost Hughes his life. Franklin was shocked by the mobs that effectively prevented enforcement of the Stamp Act everywhere in North America. He told Hughes to remain cool in the face of the mob. The experience shook Franklin, and his earlier confidence in the wisdom of British officials became punctuated by doubts and resentments.
During the next four or five years Franklin sought to bridge the growing gulf between the colonies and the British government. Between and he wrote newspaper pieces, most of which tried to explain each side to the other. But, as he said, the English thought him too American, while the Americans thought him too English. He had not, however, given up his ambition of acquiring a position in the imperial hierarchy.
But in opposition by Lord Hillsborough, who had just been appointed head of the new American Department, left Franklin depressed and dispirited; in a mood of frustration, nostalgia , and defiance, he began writing his Autobiography , which eventually became one of the most widely read autobiographies ever published.
In recounting the first part of his life, up to age 25—the best part of the Autobiography , most critics agree—Franklin sought to soothe his wounds and justify his apparent failure in British politics. Most important, in this beginning part of his Autobiography , he in effect was telling the world and his son that, as a free man who had established himself against overwhelming odds as an independent and industrious artisan, he did not have to kowtow to some patronizing , privileged aristocrat.
When the signals from the British government shifted and Hillsborough was dismissed from the cabinet, Franklin dropped the writing of the Autobiography , which he would not resume until in France following the successful negotiation of the treaty establishing American independence. Franklin still thought he might be able to acquire an imperial office and work to hold the empire together.
But he became involved in the affair of the Hutchinson letters—an affair that ultimately destroyed his position in England. In Franklin had sent back to Boston some letters written in the s by Thomas Hutchinson , then lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, in which Hutchinson had made some indiscreet remarks about the need to abridge American liberties.
Franklin naively thought that these letters would somehow throw blame for the imperial crisis on native officials such as Hutchinson and thus absolve the ministry in London of responsibility. The move backfired completely, and on January 29, , Franklin stood silent in an amphitheatre near Whitehall while being viciously attacked by the British solicitor-general before the Privy Council and the court, most of whom were hooting and laughing.
Two days later he was fired as deputy postmaster. After some futile efforts at reconciliation, he sailed for America in March Although upon his arrival in Philadelphia Franklin was immediately elected to the Second Continental Congress , some Americans remained suspicious of his real loyalties. He had been so long abroad that some thought he might be a British spy. He was delighted that the Congress in sent him back to Europe as the premier agent in a commission seeking military aid and diplomatic recognition from France.
His image as the democratic folk genius from the wilderness of America preceded him, and he exploited it brilliantly for the American cause. Franklin played his role to perfection. In violation of all protocol , he dressed in a simple brown-and-white linen suit and wore a fur cap, no wig, and no sword to the court of Versailles , the most formal and elaborate court in all of Europe.
And the French aristocracy and court loved it, caught up as they were with the idea of America. Beset with the pain of gout and a kidney stone , and surrounded by spies and his sometimes clumsy fellow commissioners—especially Arthur Lee of Virginia and John Adams of Massachusetts, who disliked and mistrusted him—Franklin nonetheless succeeded marvelously. He first secured military and diplomatic alliances with France in and then played a crucial role in bringing about the final peace treaty with Britain in see Peace of Paris.
In violation of their instructions and the French alliance, the American peace commissioners signed a separate peace with Britain. He was doing what he most yearned to do—shaping events on a world stage. In Franklin reluctantly had to come to America to die, even though all his friends were in France. His reception was not entirely welcoming. The family and friends of the Lees in Virginia and the Adamses in Massachusetts spread stories of his overweening love of France and his dissolute ways.
The Congress treated him shabbily, ignoring his requests for some land in the West and a diplomatic appointment for his grandson. Just before his death in , Franklin retaliated by signing a memorial requesting that the Congress abolish slavery in the United States. This memorandum provoked some congressmen into angry defenses of slavery, which Franklin exquisitely mocked in a newspaper piece published a month before he died.
Upon his death the Senate refused to go along with the House in declaring a month of mourning for Franklin. In contrast to the many expressions of French affection for Franklin, his fellow Americans gave him one public eulogy—and that was delivered by his inveterate enemy the Rev. In the succeeding decades, he became the hero of countless early 19th-century artisans and self-made businessmen who were seeking a justification of their rise and their moneymaking.
They were the creators of the modern folksy image of Franklin, the man who came to personify the American dream. Franklin was not only the most famous American in the 18th century but also one of the most famous figures in the Western world of the 18th century; indeed, he is one of the most celebrated and influential Americans who has ever lived. Although one is apt to think of Franklin exclusively as an inventor, as an early version of Thomas Edison , which he was, his 18th-century fame came not simply from his many inventions but, more important, from his fundamental contributions to the science of electricity.
If there had been a Nobel Prize for Physics in the 18th century, Franklin would have been a contender. Enhancing his fame was the fact that he was an American, a simple man from an obscure background who emerged from the wilds of America to dazzle the entire intellectual world.
Most Europeans in the 18th century thought of America as a primitive, undeveloped place full of forests and savages and scarcely capable of producing enlightened thinkers.
Franklin became a living example of the natural untutored genius of the New World that was free from the encumbrances of a decadent and tired Old World—an image that he later parlayed into French support for the American Revolution. Despite his great scientific achievements, however, Franklin always believed that public service was more important than science, and his political contributions to the formation of the United States were substantial.
More important, as diplomatic representative of the new American republic in France during the Revolution, he secured both diplomatic recognition and financial and military aid from the government of Louis XVI and was a crucial member of the commission that negotiated the treaty by which Great Britain recognized its former 13 colonies as a sovereign nation.
No civic project was too large or too small for his interest. In addition to his lightning rod and his Franklin stove a wood-burning stove that warmed American homes for more than years , he invented bifocal glasses, the odometer, and the glass harmonica armonica.
He had ideas about everything—from the nature of the Gulf Stream to the cause of the common cold. He suggested the notions of matching grants and Daylight Saving Time. Almost single-handedly he helped to create a civic society for the inhabitants of Philadelphia. Moreover, he helped to establish new institutions that people now take for granted: He created so many personas in his newspaper writings and almanac and in his posthumously published Autobiography that it is difficult to know who he really was.
Following his death in , he became so identified during the 19th century with the persona of his Autobiography and the Poor Richard maxims of his almanac—e. Although Franklin did indeed become a wealthy tradesman by his early 40s, when he retired from his business, during his lifetime in the 18th century he was not identified as a self-made businessman or a budding capitalist. That image was a creation of the 19th century.
But as long as America continues to be pictured as the land of enterprise and opportunity, where striving and hard work can lead to success, then that image of Franklin is the one that is likely to endure.
The Papers of Benjamin Franklin Sponsored by The American Philosophical Society and Yale University Digital Edition by The Packard Humanities Institute.
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About the Papers of Benjamin Franklin. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin is a collaborative undertaking by a team of scholars at Yale University to collect, edit, and publish a comprehensive, annotated edition of Franklin’s writings and papers: everything he wrote and almost everything he received. In a life spanning from to , Franklin . - Benjamin Franklin (An A+ Essays Original Paper, written by WeirdHTML) Benjamin Franklin was one of the first and most famous scientists in America. He was a man of many talents and interests. Franklin was always curios about they way things work, and he always tried to find ways to make them work better.
The papers of statesman, publisher, scientist, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin () consist of approximately 8, items spanning the years to , with most dating from the s and s. The collection's principal strength is its documentation of Franklin's diplomatic roles as a. Benjamin Franklin Quotes. Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter’d: Whatever sooths our Pride, and tends to exalt our Species above the rest of the Creation, we are pleas’d with and easily believe, when ungrateful Truths shall be with the utmost Indignation rejected.