Birth Name: Benjamin Franklin
Pseudonym: Pennsilvanus, Poor Richard, Richard Saunders, Silence Dogood
Born: January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Time Period: Enlightenment
Expertise: Composer, Editor, Essayist, Freemason, Governor, Inventor, Journalist, Letter Writer, Minister to France, Minister to Sweden, Musician, Novelist, Orator, Politician, Postmaster, Printer, Scientist
Known For: Declaration of Independence, Disapproving and accepting the Constitution, Poor Richard's Almanack
Interesting quotes by Benjamin Franklin
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
“You may delay, but time will not.”
“The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.”
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”
“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”
“Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.”
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.”
“A penny saved is twopence dear.”
“Fish and visitors stink in three days.”
A brief biography of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston Massachusetts. He was a multifaceted intellectual, as well as one of America’s Founding Fathers. Franklin achieved countless accomplishments in the areas of science, invention, philosophy and writing. He was also a printer and politician, being the sixth president of Pennsylvania—acting as a governor.
He was born on Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts and came from a large family of seventeen children. He received his early education at Boston Latin School. However, he never graduated and ceased his formal education at the age of ten. Instead, he continued enlightening himself through reading. After Franklin left school, he worked with his father for a few years and then at age twelve he became an apprentice to his older brother, James, who was a printer. A few years later, his brother established The New England Courant, being the first independent newspaper amongst the colonies. Young Franklin was a defender of free speech, and when he found out at the age of fifteen he was unable to contribute to the paper, he took matters into his own hands. He came up with the pseudonym “Silence Dogood,” posing as a middle-aged widow, who wrote letters to his brother’s publication, The New England Courant, in which they were published. The letters were a town sensation and nobody suspected Franklin was Mrs. Dogood. Oddly enough, once Benjamin’s brother found out, he was not pleased. Afterwards, Franklin’s brother was sent to jail for publishing unsavory material about the Governor, and that’s when Benjamin took over the paper. However, when Franklin was seventeen, he took off and went to Philadelphia where he started a new job at another print shop. After he spent a few months working, he was urged by Governor Sir William Keith to go to England, with the prospect of obtaining more print equipment to start another paper in Philadelphia—but Franklin was unsure. Instead, he worked at a print shop in London and would return to Philadelphia in 1726, working under Thomas Denham, a merchant.
A year later, at the age of twenty-one, Franklin established a club called Junto, getting its name from the Spanish word meaning “assembly.” It would later be called the Leather Apron Club. The basis of the club was for mutual improvements, where the group consisted of craftsmen and tradesmen wishing to improve themselves in order to better their community. Reading was one of many treasured activities within Junto and the members compiled their own library with books they personally owned. However, this was not enough for Franklin, since books were rare and costly. He thought of the idea to form a “subscription library”, which brought in money to acquire more books. This was how The Library Company was born. Still existing, The Library Company of Philadelphia is a renowned research library.
In 1731, Franklin became a Freemason, reaching the rank of Grand Master in 1734. Becoming prominent in Pennsylvania, in 1734 he edited and published the first Masonic book in America. It was a rendition of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, originally published in 1723, by James Anderson—Master and Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster in England. Benjamin Franklin also served as the secretary for the St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia until 1738, but continued to be a Freemason until he died.
In 1729, Benjamin Franklin became a contributor, publisher and editor to The Pennsylvania Gazette, a partnership with Hugh Meredith they formed in 1728. He printed essays and commentary about a variety of topics involving local reforms. His contribution to The Pennsylvania Gazette overtime scored him an immense amount of social respect.
Over the years from 1732 to 1758, Franklin would publish Poor Richard’s Almanack under the name “Richard Saunders”, which earned him a great deal of wealth. The publication was popular and included season forecasts, puzzles and other entertaining sections. There was also amusements like “Poor Richard’s Proverbs,” which included “Fish and visitors stink in three days” and “A penny saved is twopence dear”—usually misquoted as, “A penny saved is a penny earned”. Franklin was also a founder of many civil establishments, including Philadelphia’s first fire department, as well as the University of Pennsylvania—originally called “Academy and College of Philadelphia”—where he was the first president. Franklin also helped form the American Philosophical Society, where he acted as secretary, but would later become president in 1769.
In 1776, Benjamin Franklin became a member of the Committee of Five that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, Franklin would be unable to attend most meetings due to his medical condition—gout. He did make changes and additions when the drafted document was sent to him by Thomas Jefferson. When the document was being signed, Franklin said in a reply to John Hancock, “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Afterwards, Franklin served as Pennsylvania’s sixth president from 1785 to 1788.
Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents and great intelligence. He also wrote music— playing the violin, guitar and harp. He even made improvements on a musical instrument, the glass harmonica. Franklin was honored as many composers would use his new glass harmonica. Joseph Haydn, who admired Franklin, owned a glass harmonica. Beethoven and Mozart would compose music for the instrument. Benjamin Franklin also loved chess and he started playing the game in the 1730s. He wrote an article, “The Morals of Chess,” in the Columbian Magazine in 1786, making it the second essay written about chess in America. A chess club was established in his honor, being the second oldest chess club in America, The Franklin Mercantile Chess Club in Philadelphia, founded in 1885. Much later on, in 1999, Franklin would be inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.
Benjamin Franklin dealt with many health problems throughout his life. He was overweight and suffered a great deal from gout, a condition which worsened as he got older. Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The cause of his death was pleurisy. Franklin’s last words before he died were to his daughter, saying, “a dying man can do nothing easy”. He was eighty-four years old.
Franklin was buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nearly twenty thousand people went to his funeral. When Franklin was twenty-two, he wrote what he wanted his tombstone: “The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.” However, that changed when he wrote his last will years later. His stone is marked, “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.” His wife died in 1774.
Benjamin Franklin left quite the impact on America and the world as a whole, through all of his endeavors with science, inventions, writing, and political accomplishments. Even after two centuries, Franklin continues to be honored. His likeness is emblazoned on the US one-hundred dollar bill, his name is honored by streets, counties, educational sites, ships, and much more.
Works by Benjamin Franklin
Download free Benjamin Franklin books. Listen to Benjamin Franklin audiobooks.
External Links for Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin on Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin
Benjamin Franklin on Wikisourcehttps://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Benjamin_Franklin
See other authors of the Enlightenment period