Benjamin Franklin:
Important Facts About His Life

by Janelle Pavao

Although Benjamin Franklin was not a soldier, his diplomacy secured French support during the Revolutionary War. This biography gives the important facts about his life and his role in the War for Independence.

Benjamin Franklin Childhood

Ben was born on January 17, 1706, the tenth of seventeen children. As a child, his father planned for him to be a clergyman, but they were in no financial state for that to happen.

Due to lack of money, Ben only ever attended one year of school. Instead of schooling him, his father sent him off to apprentice to his older brother at a printing shop. Ben loved to read, so he enjoyed printing, for he was able to read the many writings that came through their newspaper.

Benjamin Franklin: Printer and Writer

Benjamin Franklin, painted by Benjamin Wilson in 1759 around age 53Benjamin Franklin, painted by Benjamin Wilson in 1759 around age 53

Ben wanted very badly to write for the paper, but his brother would not let him.

Being the bright young boy that he was, Ben found a way to write anyway. He posed as an old widow and wrote papers, which he slipped under the door at night.

The public loved this mysterious old woman who was very witty and most opinionated. Finally, after some weeks, he revealed himself. Although the public loved him and commended him for it, his brother was infuriated.

He was scolded and beaten for being such a rotten fellow. This was the last time he was to do this. A few years later his brother was put in jail for a very offensive writing he put in his newspaper about a certain family. Ben was left to run the printer shop alone until his brother was finished serving his time in jail.

Ben did an excellent job running the place and kept everything in good order. When his brother was released, instead of thanking Ben for keeping everything running, he paid no attention to him and went on to scold him later for some wrongdoing.

A few months later when Ben was beaten for being late, he decided to run away.

Benjamin Franklin: On His Own

Benjamin Franklin tried to get a job as a printer, but failed and ended up on a ship to Philadelphia. There he spent the last of his money to buy bread for a meal.

Benjamin Franklin, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze in 1777Benjamin Franklin, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze in 1777

He was spotted wandering the streets by Deborah Read, who after many twists and turns, would become his wife.

She saw him, felt bad for him, and he invited him into the house.

The Read family took him in and helped him get a job. He worked as an assistant printer for some time.

Eventually, the governor took notice of him and offered to get him started in his own shop if he would only go to England and buy fonts. Naturally, Ben took him up on this offer and headed to London.

While he was in London he received a letter stating that the governor backed down on his deal, so he would no longer pay for him to start his business.

Also while he was in London, Deborah wrote some letters suggesting that they consider getting married; however, Ben said he was not yet ready. Apparently, he took too long to get ready, for upon his return he discovered that she had married another man.

Benjamin Franklin decided to resume his old job as a printer's apprentice. Soon, though, he realized that he was much better at printing than his master, so he quit his job and started his own printing shop.

Married Life

In the prime of his business he fathered a son named William. To this day only Ben knew who the mother was.

When William was two, Deborah's husband ran off with another woman and was not seen again, so Benjamin Franklin took his childhood love to be his bride.

p>He and Deborah made off very well in the world. She ran a shop with all sorts of odd and ends, and he owned a printing shop and bookstore. People said they never saw a happier pair.

Ben did all sorts of things for the city of Philadelphia, so his social status grew. He was elected to represent the state of Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress, a position he accepted.

Benjamin Franklin: Spy

He ended up being sent over to England on several occasions to spy out different things in parliament. Because of his family's loyalty to the crown, it was not hard to get in and out of there without suspicion.

Unfortunately, when he shared his views of the revolution with his son William, they disagreed. This brought a permanent separation between them. Right after Benjamin Franklin, as part of the Committee of Five, finished helping Thomas Jefferson edit the Declaration of Independence, he was forced to throw his own son in jail. This broke his heart, but freedom, at this time, was more important than family to him.

Benjamin Franklin: Inventor

During this time he developed a love for science. He invented many different things, including the scuba diving flippers and the wood stove, but his most important invention was the lightning rod. This is what earned the title "The man who tamed lightning."

"Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky" by Benjamin West c. 1816

Later Years

After his wife died in 1774 he became the French ambassador. When he went over to France everyone loved him. He was young rich, funny, smart, and flirtatious.

He stayed in France for quite some time before moving back to America. While he was there he was able to sign a treaty with the French and get them to fight on the Americans' side for the war. He was very useful in that sense.

When the war was over Franklin worked as a printer again for a short while, then he went back into politics.

His last political jab was in 1789 when he published a writing against slavery. He died in 1790 and had 20,000 people showed up at his funeral.

John Adams

John Adams

George Clymer

George Clymer

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