Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Josiah Franklin, was a soap and candlemaker who had immigrated from England. His mother, Abiah Folger, was Josiah’s second wife.
Benjamin’s Siblings and Early Education
Benjamin was the 15th child and youngest son out of 17 children in the Franklin family. He only attended school for two years, from age 8 to 10, but loved reading and learned through self-education.
Apprenticeship with his Brother
At age 12, Benjamin became an apprentice to his brother James, who was a printer. He learned the printing trade but disliked how his brother would beat him. After 5 years of working for his brother, at age 17 Benjamin ran away to find work elsewhere.
Starting a Printing Business and Writing
Benjamin found work as a printer in Philadelphia and London. He worked hard at improving his writing and also invented stories under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood” which became popular in his brother’s newspaper.
Opening his Own Print Shop and Publishing
In 1728, Benjamin was able to open his own print shop in Philadelphia with a partner. He also founded the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper and Poor Richard’s Almanack, which included wisdom, humor, and advice.
Number of Copies Sold and Marriage
Poor Richard’s Almanack became a bestseller, selling over 10,000 copies every year. In 1730, Franklin married Deborah Read and together they had two children, Francis and Sarah.
Scientific Experiments and Inventions
Benjamin Franklin was very interested in science and conducted many important experiments and inventions throughout his lifetime.
Kite Experiment on Electricity
One of his most famous experiments was when he flew a kite with a key attached during a lightning storm in 1752. He discovered electricity could be captured from lightning.
|Scientific Experiment or Invention
|Invented swim fins for the hands and feet
|Discovered the electrical nature of lightning by experimenting with a kite, key, and stormy weather
|Invented the lightning rod to protect buildings from fire
Many Other Experiments and Observations
In addition to his work with electricity, Franklin made many observations and experiments involving ocean currents, refrigeration, wave theory of light, population growth, and more. He kept detailed notes and engaged in scientific discourse with top minds of his era through letters.
Politics and the American Revolution
As tensions rose between the American colonies and British rule, Benjamin Franklin played an integral role in the new nation’s formation and diplomacy efforts securing support from France during the American Revolutionary War.
Participation in Continental Congresses
Franklin participated Pennsylvania’s colonial legislature and later the Continental Congresses, which unified the colonies against the British government. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
Securing Alliances and Funding for the Revolution
In 1776, Franklin traveled to France as an ambassador to the French court. He secured shipments of French gunpowder and arms to the colonies as well as a formal Franco-American alliance, which provided soldiers, finances, and naval support. This proved essential to winning the Revolutionary War.
Treaty of Paris and Later Years
After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, Franklin helped negotiate favorable terms for peace with Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. In his later years, he became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves. He died at age 84 on April 17, 1790.
In summary, Benjamin Franklin led an incredibly productive and impactful life during a pivotal era of history. Though he only had two years of formal education as a child, Franklin exemplified self-determination and grit through teaching himself to become highly skilled as a writer, printer, inventor, scientist, statesman, and diplomat.
His popular writings shared practical wisdom and brought attention to injustice, while his scientific experiments advanced human understanding immensely. Franklin helped drive the American colonies to independence from Britain, then secured essential international alliances and funding that enabled the underdog militias to prevail. Finally, his diplomacy ushering favorable terms in the Treaty of Paris concluded the hard-fought Revolutionary War.
Benjamin Franklin’s blend of creativity, diligence, civic duty, and perseverance stand out as exemplary characteristics. The pragmatic yet ingenious Franklin not only helped shape America’s formative era of independence in the 18th century – his inventiveness and writings resound with practical advice applicable centuries later. Through his entrepreneurial spirit, diplomatic tact, and scientific contributions, this versatile Founding Father’s impact endures as both profound and practical.
Frequently Asked Questions About Benjamin Franklin’s Life
Here are answers to some common questions people ask about Benjamin Franklin:
What was Benjamin Franklin’s childhood like?
Benjamin Franklin only had two years of formal schooling. As a child he loved reading and learning on his own. At age 12 he began working for his older brother James as a printer’s apprentice for 5 years before running away to find his own opportunities.
How did Benjamin Franklin learn so much without formal schooling?
Franklin was highly motivated to read and learn on his own through books, observations, conducting experiments, inventing solutions to common problems, and engaging in scientific discourse by writing letters to other top thinkers of his era. He was very studious and intellectually curious his whole life.
Why did Benjamin Franklin go to France during the American Revolution?
The colonists needed international allies and funding to defeat the superior British forces. In 1776, Franklin traveled to France as an ambassador to convince King Louis XVI to formally support American independence. Franklin secured shipments of French arms and soldiers, plus financial loans – which proved essential for the colonists’ victory.
What inventions is Benjamin Franklin famous for?
Some of Benjamin Franklin’s most well-known innovations include bifocals, the lightning rod to protect buildings, efficiently heating homes through closed stoves, odometers to measure distance traveled by wagons, the flexible urinary catheter, and mapping the Gulf Stream ocean current.
How did Benjamin Franklin’s writings and publications impact society?
Franklin published witty wisdom and advice through Poor Richard’s Almanack that middle-class people could apply to their lives and occupations. The almanac was very popular with over 10,000 copies sold per year. His political writings also brought attention to issues of rights and governance in the American colonies that led more people to support revolution against British rule.