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Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. As a young man, Franklin was apprenticed to an older brother, James, who published a newspaper. There, Franklin learned to set type. He read whatever books he could get his hands on and began to write. His brother was a cruel master. In 1723, at the age of 17, Franklin slipped away by ship to New York, where he found no work, so he walked to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, Franklin found work as an apprentice printer. The following year, Franklin went to London, to purchase printing equipment to bring back to America, but his backer reneged, and Franklin stayed in England to continue his training. In 1726, Franklin returned to Philadelphia to work in a print shop. He then started his own printing business, working diligently. Soon his business thrived. In addition, he became engaged in a number of civic-minded organizations,. In 1759, Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1730, Frankin married his childhood sweetheart, Deborah Read. Franklin continued to work hard, starting the Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733. He also continued his civic contributions, helping to found the Library Company in 1731, Philadelphia's Union Fire Company in 1736, the American Philosophical Society in 1743, the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751, and the Philadelphia Contributionship in 1752. Many of these still exist today. At the age of forty-two, Franklin was able to retire from business. Franklin turned to the study of electricity. Also, he became actively interetsed in politics. In 1757, he went to England to represent Pennsylvania. There he stayed until 1775, as a Colonial representative not only of Pennsylvania, but of Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts as well. In 1775, after leaking British letters calling for the containment of Colonial rights, Franklin had no choice but to leave England. He came back to the Colonies where he began actively working for Independence. Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, Franklin signed the Declaration, and went to France as an ambassador. During the Revolutionary War, partly because of Franklin's popularity in France, the French signed the Treaty of Alliance in 1778. Franklin was on hand to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1783, after the Revolution had been won. In his seventies, Franklin returned to America. He became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84.