August 24, 2005

Benjamin Franklin’s Achievements

By Dr. Frank J. Collazo


Introduction:  Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790), American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, statesman, and scientist, whose many contributions to the cause of the American Revolution (1775-1783), and the newly formed federal government that followed, rank him among the country’s greatest statesmen.


Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston.  His father, Josiah Franklin, a tallow chandler by trade, had 17 children; Benjamin was the 15th child and the 10th son.  His mother, Abiah Folger, was his father’s second wife.  The Franklin family was in modest circumstances, like most New Englanders of the time.  After his attendance at grammar school from age eight to ten, Benjamin was taken into his father’s business.  Finding the work uncongenial, however, he entered the employ of a cutler.


At age 13 he was apprenticed to his brother James, who had recently returned from England with a new printing press.  Benjamin learned the printing trade, devoting his spare time to the advancement of his education.


In 1721 his brother James Franklin established the New England Courant, and Benjamin, at the age of 15, was busily occupied in delivering the newspaper by day and in composing articles for it at night.  These articles, published anonymously, won wide notice and acclaim for their pithy observations on the current scene.  Because of its liberal bias, the New England Courant frequently incurred the displeasure of the colonial authorities.  In 1722, as a consequence of an article considered particularly offensive, James Franklin was imprisoned for a month and forbidden to publish his paper, and for a while it appeared under Benjamin’s name.


Quick facts


Benjamin Franklin

American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist



January 17, 1706


April 17, 1790

Place of Birth

Boston, Massachusetts

Known for

Contributing to the formation of the United States and representing the country abroad


Experimenting with electricity and developing inventions


1723 Left home in Boston at the age of 17, eventually establishing himself as a printer in Philadelphia


1729 Bought the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper, which he published until his retirement in 1748


1732-1757 Published Poor Richard's Almanac


1751-1764 Served several terms as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly


1752 Conducted his famous experiment with a kite, proving that lightning is an electrical phenomenon


1753 Appointed deputy postmaster general to the colonies


1775 Served as a member of the Second Continental Congress, and was appointed to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence


1776-1785 Served as ambassador to France, successfully securing French support for the newly formed United States


1785 Won election as president of the executive council of Pennsylvania


1787 As a member of the Constitutional Convention, helped to establish consensus on the provisions for a federal government

Did You Know

Franklin worked unstintingly to build compromise and consensus during the Constitutional Convention. In the end, he urged the delegates to adopt the Constitution unanimously as a show of solidarity for the states, even though he himself did not approve of all its provisions.


Franklin worked to abolish slavery in the United States.


His success as a printer enabled Franklin to retire at age 42 and pursue his scientific and political interests.


Franklin invented bifocals and the lightning rod, and charted the course of the Gulf Stream.


Franklin’s Residence: Of perhaps wider interest to Americans was the reopening in June of the Benjamin Franklin House, on Craven Street, where Franklin lived periodically between 1757 and 1775 while he was in London as an agent for the American colonies.


First American Postal Service: The first American postal service was established in the colony of Massachusetts in 1639. From 1707 until the year before the American Revolution, the General Post Office in London controlled the postal service in America.  In 1775 the Continental Congress resolved to have a postal system of its own, and Benjamin Franklin was elected to carry on the work.  When a postal service was authorized by Congress in 1789 under the U.S. Constitution, the nation had 75 local post offices, and the mail was carried over 1,875 miles (more than 3000 km) of postal routes.


Printer Training in London: Benjamin left Boston and made his way to Philadelphia, arriving in October 1723.  There he worked at his trade and made numerous friends, among whom was Sir William Keith, the provincial governor of Pennsylvania.  He persuaded Franklin to go to London to complete his training as a printer and to purchase the equipment needed to start his own printing establishment in Philadelphia.  Young Franklin took this advice, arriving in London in December 1724.  Not having received from Keith certain promised letters of introduction and credit, Franklin found himself, at age 18, without means in a strange city.  With characteristic resourcefulness, he obtained employment at two of the foremost printing houses in London: Palmer’s and Watt’s.  His appearance, bearing, and accomplishments soon won him the recognition of a number of the most distinguished figures in the literary and publishing world.


Colonial Money: In 1726 Benjamin Franklin printed the first colonial money in Burlington. The state's first constitution was signed here in July 1776.  The $100 dollar bill was redesigned in the 19th Century but Benjamin Franklin lost his fur collar.


Almanac-1732: Beginning in 1732, New Englander Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard's Almanac under the pen name Richard Saunders.  This annual volume provided information on the seasons, lunar cycles, and tidal patterns, among other things, but was most famous for its pithy, practical advice about right living.  The Almanac was widely read through 1757, when Franklin ceased to publish it. Franklin turns his gentle wit toward the Almanac and some of its readers in “The Way to Wealth,” an essay he wrote for its 25th anniversary in 1757.  Distributed in bookshops, by the printers themselves, or by peddlers, almanacs were widely circulated. From 1726 to 1764 Nathaniel Ames, Sr., of Dedham, Massachusetts, sold 50,000 to 60,000 copies annually of his Astronomical Diary and Almanac.  The most famous of early American almanacs, renowned for its aphorisms, was Poor Richard's Almanac, published by printer and author Benjamin Franklin under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders, Philom.”  Franklin issued the almanac from 1732 to 1757; long after his connection with it was in name only, Poor Richard's still had enormous circulation.  In 1766, for example, 141,257 copies were sold.


Return from London – Bought the Gazette Newspaper Business:

In October 1726, Franklin returned to Philadelphia and resumed his trade.  The following year, with a number of his acquaintances, he organized a discussion group known as the Junto.  In September 1729, he bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, a dull, poorly edited weekly newspaper, which he made, by his witty style and judicious selection of news, both entertaining and informative.  In 1730 he married Deborah Read, a Philadelphia woman whom he had known before his trip to England.  In 1748 Franklin sold his printing business and, in 1750, was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, in which he served until 1764.


American Philosophical Society: The oldest surviving science organization is the Academia dei Lincei, in Italy, which was established in 1603.  The same century also saw the inauguration of the Royal Society of London, founded in 1662, and the Académie des Sciences de Paris, founded in 1666. American scientific societies date back to the 18th century, when American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin founded a philosophical club in 1727.  In 1743 this organization became the American Philosophical Society, which still exists today.


Deism: Deism is a rationalist religious philosophy that flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries particularly in England.  Generally, Deists held that a certain kind of religious knowledge (sometimes called natural religion) is either inherent in each person or accessible through the exercise of reason, but they denied the validity of religious claims based on revelation or on the specific teachings of any church.


Deism emerged as a major religious and philosophical view in England.  The most prominent 17th-century Deists were Edward Herbert, John Toland, and Charles Blount, all of whom advocated a rationalist religion and criticized the supernatural or no rational elements in the Jewish and Christian traditions.  In the early 18th century, Anthony Collins, Thomas Chubb, and Matthew Tindal sharpened the rationalist attack on orthodoxy by attempting to discredit the miracles and mysteries of the Bible.


Although these challenges to traditional and orthodox interpretations of Christianity aroused much opposition, the Deists did much to establish the intellectual climate of Europe in the 18th century.  Their emphasis on reason and their opposition to fanaticism and intolerance greatly influenced the English philosophers John Locke and David Hume. In France, the philosopher Voltaire became a particularly effective proponent of Deism and intensified his predecessors' rationalist critique of Scripture. Nonetheless, he retained the English Deists' view that a deity certainly exists.  Versions of Deism, some of them approaching atheism, were advocated by many other prominent figures of the European Enlightenment.


Deism was also influential in late-18th-century America, where Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington held Deistic views.  The most vociferous Deists in America were Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine.


Deism in Europe and America played an important role both in exposing traditional religion to rationalist criticism and in encouraging the development of rationalist philosophy.  Unitarianism, Modernism, and other modern religious tendencies have absorbed elements of the Deists’ ideas.


Deism is a belief in God based on reason rather than revelation, and involves the view that God has set the universe in motion but does not interfere with how it runs.  Deism was especially influential in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Insurance Contribution: Insurance also developed during the 1700s in the North American colonies.  In 1730 Benjamin Franklin helped form the Philadelphia Contribution ship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.  The company collected contributions from citizens of Philadelphia, and this money went into an investment fund.  Interest on this fund went toward paying for claims on losses from fires and for dividends to those who contributed money.


The First Public Library in America:  Franklin engaged in many public projects.  In 1731 he founded what was probably the first public library in America, chartered in 1742 as the Philadelphia Library.  He first published Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732, under the pen name Richard Saunders.  This modest volume quickly gained a wide and appreciative audience, and its homespun, practical wisdom exerted a pervasive influence upon the American character.


In 1736 Franklin became clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the next year was appointed deputy postmaster of Philadelphia.  About this time, he organized the first fire company in that city and introduced methods for the improvement of street paving and lighting.


Always interested in scientific studies, he founded the American Philosophical Society, an organization for the promotion of science, in 1743.  He devised means to correct the excessive smoking of chimneys and invented, around 1744, the Franklin stove, which furnished greater heat with a reduced consumption of fuel.


Library In Mexico: The American-sponsored Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City now attracts boys and girls as well as adults with a good supply of children's books and story telling in both English and Spanish.  Free motion pictures are presented to the children and busy mothers are encouraged to leave their children at the library when shopping or filling social engagements.  The Library staff celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1952.  This library was the first of a group of 130 U.S. Information Libraries established by the State Department in more than ninety countries.


First Newspaper in Rhode Island: The first newspaper published in Rhode Island was the Rhode Island Gazette, established in 1732 in Newport by James Franklin, a brother of Benjamin Franklin. James Franklin, Jr., founded the famous Newport Mercury in 1758.  The oldest daily newspaper in the state is the Providence Journal, which was established in 1829.  In 2000 there were 7 daily newspapers in the state.  The leading dailies were the Providence Journal, the Pawtucket Times, and the Woonsocket Call.


Slavery: Eminent statesmen from the earliest period of the national existence, such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, regarded slavery as evil and inconsistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence.


First Hospital In Pennsylvania: The first hospital established in the United States was Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, which was chartered in 1751 with the support of Benjamin Franklin.


Academy: In colonial America, Benjamin Franklin introduced the term academy; his proposal resulted in the chartering (1753) of the Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania.  In 1755 it was renamed the College and Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), with power to grant degrees.


Inventions: In 1744, he invented the Stove of Cast Iron, Lighting Rod in 1752, Glass Harmonica in 1760, and in 1780 the Bifocal Lens.  In 1747 Franklin began his electrical experiments with a simple apparatus that he received from Peter Collinson in England.  He advanced a tenable theory of the Leyden jar, supported the hypothesis that lightning is an electrical phenomenon, and proposed an effective method of demonstrating this fact.  His plan was published in London and carried out in England and France before he himself performed his celebrated experiment with the kite in 1752.


Edison, whose inventions did as much as any to add to our material convenience, wasn't what we would call a scientist at all, but a supreme "do-it-yourself" man—the successor to Benjamin Franklin.


Volcano Dust: The idea that volcanic dust might have screened out enough solar radiation to bring on glaciations is not new (Benjamin Franklin was one of its early proponents), but there has never before been enough hard evidence to evaluate it.


Stove: Stoves were developed over thousands of years in a number of ancient civilizations.  By 2000 B.C. Egyptians were using clay and brick ovens to bake bread.  During Roman times in central and northern Europe, people developed earthenware stoves to heat their dwellings.  Cast-iron stoves were used in China as early as the 2nd century ad and in Europe as early as the 15th century.  In 1744 American inventor Benjamin Franklin developed an efficient cast-iron stove that could be installed inside a fireplace.  Even with improved designs, cooking was done primarily over an open flame until the early 1800s. Anglo-American Benjamin Thompson designed one of the earliest cooking ranges in the 1790s. Englishman George Bodley patented the closed-top, cast-iron range in 1802. 


Flying A Kite: By flying a kite in a thunderstorm in 1752, American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin demonstrated the electrical nature of lightning.  French chemist Jacques Charles, in 1787, discovered the relationship between temperature and volume in a gas. In 1835 French physicist Gaspard de Coriolis mathematically demonstrated the effect that the earth’s rotation has on atmospheric motions.


Lightning Rod: He invented the lightning rod and offered what is called the “one-fluid” theory in explanation of the two kinds of electricity, positive and negative.  In recognition of his impressive scientific accomplishments, Franklin received honorary degrees from the University of Saint Andrews and the University of Oxford.  He also became a fellow of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge and, in 1753, was awarded its Copley Medal for distinguished contributions to experimental science. Franklin also exerted a great influence on education in Pennsylvania.


Harmonica: American diplomat and scientist Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, also known as the Franklin harmonica, in the early 1760s.  It is a mechanized version of the much simpler musical glasses that were popular at that time.  These were a set of glass bowls, graduated in size to produce distinct pitches, and fine-tuned by partial filling with water.  In the Franklin invention, shallow glass basins are fixed concentrically on a horizontal spindle that is revolved by a crank attached to a pedal.  The spindle is arranged in a trough of water so that the glasses are kept wet.  Touching the fingers to the wet edges produces the shimmering, bell-like sound.  This instrument was popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Such notable composers as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven wrote pieces for it.

Bifocal focal Lens


With the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the demand for eyeglasses increased and by 1629 was large enough for a charter to be granted to a guild of spectacle makers in England.  The first bifocal glasses were made for Benjamin Franklin at his suggestion about 1760. In early times the only eyeglasses having spherical lenses were manufactured to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.  Not until the end of the 19th century did the cylindrical lens for the correction of astigmatism come into common use.


University of Pennsylvania: In 1749 he wrote Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania; its publication led to the establishment in 1751 of the Academy of Philadelphia, later to become the University of Pennsylvania.  The curriculum he suggested was a considerable departure from the program of classical studies then in vogue.  English and modern foreign languages were to be emphasized as well as mathematics and science.


Delegate of Inter-Colonial Congress: He was appointed deputy postmaster general for the colonies in 1753, and in 1754 he was the delegate from Pennsylvania to the inter-colonial congress that met at Albany to consider methods of dealing with the threatened French and Indian War (1754-1763).  His Albany Plan, in many ways prophetic of the 1787 U.S. Constitution, provided for local independence within a framework of colonial union, but was too far in advance of public thinking to obtain ratification.  It was his staunch belief that the adoption of this plan would have averted the American Revolution.


French Indian War/Proprietary Taxes: When the French and Indian War broke out, Franklin procured horses, wagons, and supplies for the British commander General Edward Braddock by pledging his own credit to the Pennsylvania farmers, who thereupon furnished the necessary equipment.  The proprietors of Pennsylvania Colony, descendants of the Quaker leader William Penn, in conformity with their religious opposition to war, refused to allow their landholdings to be taxed for the prosecution of the war.  Thus, in 1757, Franklin was sent to England by the Pennsylvania Assembly to petition the king for the right to levy taxes on proprietary lands-the King’s decision is unknown.


Economist: Ben Franklin's personal ideas about economy helped to shape our country's economy.  We are lucky that they did because Franklin believed that the only true way to wealth was through hard work.  This noble idea became the soul of the "American Dream," the idea that all people are created equal and each person has the same opportunity to achieve success.


Ben used his printing skills to print paper money, helping to establish the paper currency system in America.  Today, we honor Ben's contribution to the economy every time we use a $100 bill: Ben's face appears on it.

Philosopher: Ben Franklin never squandered his time, so surely he must have loved life.  Ben Franklin is remembered as one of America’s great thinkers.  His ideas and visions helped to lay the foundation for the United States of America, as we know it today.  He had a clear vision of the way America should be and he spent his time helping to make sure that it would be.


Statesman: Benjamin Franklin stands tall among a small group of men we call our Founding Fathers. Ben used his diplomacy skills to serve his fellow countrymen.  His role in the American Revolution was not played out on the battlefields like George Washington, but rather in the halls and staterooms of governments.  His clear vision of the way things should be, and his skill in both writing and negotiating, helped him to shape the future of the United States of America.


Ben stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778), the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1782), and the Constitution (1787).  He actually helped to write parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  No other individual was more involved in the birth of our nation.


Besides helping to mold the United States of America, Ben helped to make everyday life in the city better.  He served as Postmaster, helping to set up the postal system in Philadelphia.  In order to make Philadelphia a safer city, he started the Union Fire Company in 1736.  A few years later, in 1752, he set up America's first fire insurance company.  He even organized a Night Watch and Militia to help keep peace and safety in Philadelphia.  While in Paris, Ben proposed the idea of Daylight Savings Time.

Today, America's leadership and government are found in Washington, DC.  In the late 1700s, that leadership was in Philadelphia because that's where Ben Franklin was.


Inventor: A list of Benjamin Franklin's inventions reveals a man of many talents and interests.  It was the scientist in Ben that brought out the inventor.  His natural curiosity about things and the way they work made him try to find ways to make them work better.

Ben had poor vision and needed glasses to read.  He got tired of constantly taking them off and putting them back on, so he decided to figure out a way to make his glasses let him see both near and far.  He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame.  Today, we call them bifocals.


Even though Ben is not famous for his study of bioscience, he was interested in how the human body works and looked for ways to help it work better.  For example, Ben's older brother John suffered from kidney stones and Ben wanted to help him feel better.  Ben developed a flexible urinary catheter that appears to have been the first one produced in America.


During Ben's lifetime, he made eight voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.  These long journeys gave him a lot of time to learn about ships and how they worked.  As early as 1784, Franklin suggested following the Chinese model of dividing ships' holds into watertight compartments so that if a leak occurred in one compartment, the water would not spread throughout the hold and sink the ship.


Everyone knows the story of Ben's famous kite flight.  Although he made important discoveries and advancements, Ben did not "invent" electricity.  He did, however, invent the lightning rod, which protected buildings and ships from lightning damage.

In colonial America, most people warmed their homes by building a fire in a fireplace even though it was kind of dangerous and used a lot of wood.  Ben figured that there had to be a better way.  His invention of an iron furnace stove allowed people to warm their homes less dangerously and with less wood.  The furnace stove that he invented is called a Franklin stove.  Interestingly enough, Ben also established the first fire company and the first fire insurance company in order to help people live more safely.


As postmaster, Ben had to figure out routes for delivering the mail.  He went out riding in his carriage to measure the routes and needed a way to keep track of the distance.  He invented a simple odometer and attached it to his carriage.


In his old age, Ben retired from business and public service and wanted to spend his time reading and studying.  He found, however, that his old age had made it difficult for him to reach books from the high shelves.  Even though he had many grandchildren to help him, he invented a tool called a long arm to reach the high books.  The long arm was a long wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end.


Later, other famous inventors, like Thomas A. Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, would follow in Ben's footsteps by trying to find ways to help people live well.  Today's curious thinkers are keeping Ben's traditions alive by inventing new and improved ways to make things work.


Scientist: In the 1700s, a scientist was someone who thought about the way things work and tried to figure out ways to make things work better.  Today, that definition is still true.  Every time Ben Franklin saw a question and tried to answer it, he was a scientist.  Every time you ask a question and try to get an answer, you too are a scientist.  Ben is most famous for his questions about electricity, but he also experimented with many other ideas in nature.


In 1743, Ben observed that northeast storms begin in the southwest.  He thought it was odd that storms travel in an opposite direction to their winds.  He predicted that a storm's course could be plotted.  Ben rode a horse through a storm and chased a whirlwind three-quarters of a mile in order to learn more about storms.  Therefore, in a way, Ben was a weatherman too!  He even printed weather forecasts in his almanac.  Today's meteorologists don't chase storms on horseback, but they do continue to plot the course of storms.


Since Ben spent so much time sailing to Europe across the Atlantic Ocean, he became very interested in both ocean currents and shipbuilding.  Ben was actually one of the first people to chart the Gulf Stream.  He measured its temperature on each of his eight voyages and was able to chart the Stream in detail.


In November of 1783, Ben happened to be in Paris, France working on a peace treaty to end the American war against England.  From his hotel window, he was able to watch the world's first known hot air balloon flight.  The balloon lifted the Montgolfier brothers off of the ground as the first human beings ever known to fly.  Ben was very interested in the idea of flight, predicting that one-day balloons would be used for military spy flights and dropping bombs during battle.  Soon, balloons were actually being used for recreation, military, and scientific purposes.  Even though they could not yet be steered, many people volunteered to take a ride just for fun!  Sadly, Ben Franklin died three years before the first American hot air balloon voyage.  In 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard lifted off from the Walnut Street Prison Yard in Philadelphia, beginning the hot air balloon craze in America.


Representative of the Colonies: After completing his mission of the tax levy, he remained in England for five years as the chief representative of the American colonies.  During this period he made friends with many prominent Englishmen: Chemist and clergyman Joseph Priestley, Philosopher and Historian David Hume, and the philosopher and economist Adam Smith.


Permanent Delegate to England: Franklin returned to Philadelphia in 1762, where he remained until 1764, when he was once again dispatched to England as the agent of Pennsylvania.  In 1766 he was interrogated before the House of Commons regarding the effects of the Stamp Act upon the colonies; his testimony was largely influential in securing the repeal of the act.  Soon, however, new plans for taxing the colonies were introduced in Parliament, and Franklin was increasingly divided between his devotion to his native land and his loyalty as a subject of George III of Great Britain.


Business Partner: The Pennsylvania merchants and traders now called themselves the Indiana Company, and they went to England to get the grant confirmed.  Benjamin Franklin, who became a partner in the venture, aided them.  Soon the grant was expanded into a larger scheme for the establishment of a 14th American colony, to be located south of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains.  The colony was to be named Vandalia in honor of Queen Charlotte of England, who was said to be descended from the Vandals, an ancient Germanic tribe.  The American Revolution (1775-1783) broke out before the grant was finalized, and the company representatives returned to the colonies to place their claims before the Continental Congress.


When Pennsylvania governor John Penn tried to bring the murderers to justice, about 250-armed Scots-Irish marched on Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin, who had built his reputation as a diplomat, intercepted the angry mob at Lancaster and arranged a compromise, narrowly averting a battle.


Start of the Revolution: Finally, in 1775, his powers of conciliation exhausted, Franklin sorrowfully acknowledged the inevitability of war.  Sailing for America after an absence of 11 years, he reached Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, to find that the opening engagements of the Revolution—the battles of Lexington and Concord—had already been fought.  He was chosen a member of the Second Continental Congress, serving on ten of its committees, and was made postmaster general, an office he held for one year.


Diplomat of the Revolution: In 1775 Franklin traveled to Canada, suffering great hardship along the way, in a vain effort to enlist the cooperation and support of Canada in the Revolution.  Upon his return, he became one of the committee of five chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also one of the signers of that historic document, addressing the assembly with the characteristic statement: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”


US Flag: To meet the growing need for a flag symbolic of its cause, the Continental Congress appointed a special committee in the latter part of 1775.  The committee, which consisted of Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, the statesman Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, and the planter Thomas Lynch of South Carolina, conferred with George Washington and other revolutionary leaders.  Because the political sentiment prevailing at that time among these leaders was opposed to separation from Great Britain and envisaged eventual reconciliation, the flag finally adopted signified the two dominant contemporary political ideas: colonial unity against oppression and continued union with Great Britain. The first idea was represented in the flag by 13 horizontal stripes, 7 red alternating with 6 white.  The second idea was symbolized by including, in a blue canton at the top of the flag near the staff, the crosses of the British Union Jack—the cross of St. George and the cross of St. Andrew.  This flag, which may have been designed in detail by Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was raised for the first time at Charlestown, Massachusetts, on January 1, 1776.  It was known as the Continental flag, or the Congress colors.  In later times it came to be called the Grand Union, or Cambridge, flag.


Great Seal of the United States: The Continental Congress first commissioned the designing of a seal of the U.S. immediately after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  A committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson submitted a design that was deemed unacceptable, as were designs submitted by two succeeding committees.  In 1782 these designs were turned over to Charles Thomson, secretary to the congress, who prepared a design, which, with some alterations, was adopted by the congress on June 20, 1782.


Architect of France Economic Assistance: In September of the same year, he was chosen, with two other Americans, Arthur Lee and Silas Deane, to seek economic assistance in France.  His scientific reputation, his integrity of character, and his wit and gracious manner made him extremely popular in French political, literary, and social circles, and his wisdom and ingenuity secured for the U.S. aid and concessions that perhaps no other man could have obtained.  Against the vigorous opposition of the French minister of finance, Jacques Necker, and despite the jealous antagonism of his coldly formal American colleagues, he managed to obtain liberal grants and loans from Louis XVI of France.  Franklin encouraged and materially assisted American privateers operating against the British navy, especially John Paul Jones.  On February 6, 1778, Franklin negotiated the treaty of commerce and defensive alliance with France that represented, in effect, turning point of the American Revolution. Seven months later, Congress as the first minister plenipotentiary from the U.S. to France appointed him.


Bald Eagle: In 1782 the bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, was chosen as the national symbol of the United States to the dismay of Benjamin Franklin, who claimed that the eagle was "a bird of bad moral character."  (Franklin's choice was the wild turkey.)  Birds of prey, bald eagles are monogamous and mate for life. They build enormous platform nests weighing as much as 2 metric tons, and, not surprisingly, mated pairs usually use the same nest throughout a long lifetime.  Parenting responsibilities such as nest


Building, incubation of eggs, and rearing of young are shared equally by both parents. Although bald eagles are found throughout the North American continent, they have been scarce in the lower 48 United States since the mid-20th century as a result of habitat loss and of exposure to pesticides and heavy metals that are concentrated in the fish that they eat.  Recent recovery efforts, however, have reversed the decline in numbers of bald eagles.  In 1994 the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list.


Daylight Saving Time/US Uniform Time Act: Daylight Saving, a system of setting clocks 1 or 2 hours ahead so that both sunrise and sunset occur at a later hour, produced an additional period of daylight in the evening.  In the North Temperate Zone clocks are usually set ahead 1 hour in the spring and set back to standard time in the fall.  The idea of daylight saving was mentioned in a whimsical essay in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin; it was first advocated seriously by a British builder, William Willett, in the pamphlet Waste of Daylight (1907).  Daylight saving has been used in the United States and in many European countries since World War I, when the system was adopted in order to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power.  Some localities reverted to standard time after the war, but others retained daylight saving. During World War II the U.S. Congress passed a law putting the entire country on “war time,” which set clocks 1 hour ahead of standard time for the duration of the war.


Wartime was also followed in Britain, where clocks were put ahead still another hour during the summer.  In the U.S. during peacetime, daylight saving was a subject of controversy.  Farmers, who usually work schedules determined by sun time and are therefore inconvenienced when they must conduct business on a different time basis, registered strong opposition.  Railroad, bus, and plane scheduling was hampered by time inconsistencies among various cities and states.  The Uniform Time Act, enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1966, established a system of uniform (within each time zone) daylight saving time throughout the U.S. and its possessions, exempting only those states in which the state legislature voted to keep the entire state on standard time.  Under legislation enacted in 1986, daylight saving time begins at 2 am on the first Sunday of April and ends at 2 am on the last Sunday of October.


France Recognition: During the remainder of his stay in France, Franklin was accorded honorary distinctions commensurate with his notable and diversified accomplishments.  His scientific standing won him an appointment from the French king as one of the commissioners investigating the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer and the phenomenon of animal magnetism. As a dignitary of one of the most distinguished Freemason lodges in France, Franklin had the opportunity of meeting and speaking with a number of philosophers and leading figures of the French Revolution (1789-1799), upon whose political thinking he exerted a profound influence.  Although he favored a liberalization of the French government, he opposed change through violent revolution.


USA and Great Britain Treaty: In 1781 Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay were appointed to conclude a treaty of peace with Great Britain. The final treaty was signed at Versailles on September 3, 1783 (see Paris, Treaty of).  During the remainder of his stay in France, Franklin was accorded honorary distinctions commensurate with his notable and diversified accomplishments. His scientific standing won him an appointment from the French king as one of the commissioners investigating the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer and the phenomenon of animal magnetism.  As a dignitary of one of the most distinguished Freemason lodges in France, Franklin had the opportunity of meeting and speaking with a number of philosophers and leading figures of the French Revolution (1789-1799), upon whose political thinking he exerted a profound influence. Although he favored a liberalization of the French government, he opposed change through violent revolution.


A Framer of the Constitution: In March 1785, Franklin, at his own request, left his duties in France and returned to Philadelphia, where he was immediately chosen president of the Pennsylvania executive council (1785-87).  In 1787 he was elected a delegate to the convention that drew up the U.S. Constitution. Franklin was deeply interested in philanthropic projects, and one of his last public acts was to sign a petition to the U.S. Congress, on February 12, 1790, as president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, urging the abolition of slavery and the suppression of the slave trade.  Two months later, on April 17, Franklin died in his Philadelphia home at 84 years of age.


Franklin’s most notable service to his country was the result of his great skill in diplomacy.  To his common sense, wisdom, wit, and industry, he joined great firmness of purpose, matchless tact, and broad tolerance.  Both as a brilliant conversationalist and a sympathetic listener, Franklin had a wide and appreciative following in the intellectual salons of the day.


Other Scientists Contributions: Many heroes in the study of electricity and magnetism emerged between the late 1700s and the early 1800s, many of which left their names on various electrical units.  These scientists include Charles Augustine de Coulomb (the unit of charge), André Ampere (current), George Ohm (resistance), James Watt (electrical power), and James Joule (energy).  Luigi Galvani gave us the galvanometer; a device for measuring currents, and Alessandro Volta gave us the volt, a unit of potential, or electromotive force.  Similarly C. F. Gauss, Hans Christian Oersted, and W. E. Weber all made their mark and left their names on electrical engineering.  Only Benjamin Franklin failed to get his name on any electrical unit, despite his significant contributions.  All of these scientists contributed to the study of electricity.  However, the real giants in the field were two 19th-century Englishmen, Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell.


Confrontation with the British about Taxes: Benjamin Franklin declared in 1769 that the British ministry should “Repeal the laws, Renounce the Right, Recall the troops, Refund the money, and Return to the old method of requisition.”  Late in that year the British government, now directed by Lord Frederick North, the new prime minister and ally of King George III, went part way toward meeting these demands.  Under the pressure of the American economic boycott, and a sharp drop in British exports, Parliament agreed to the repeal of most of the Townsend Acts. However, the ministry did not recall the British troops from any of the colonies and showed no disposition to return to the pre-1763 imperial system.  Indeed, Parliament reasserted its authority to legislate for and to tax the colonies, retaining the tax on tea as a symbol of its supremacy.


The Age of Enlightenment: The Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century produced important changes in education and educational theory.  During the Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason, educators believed people could improve their lives and society by using their reason, their powers of critical thinking.  The Enlightenment’s ideas had a significant impact on the American Revolution (1775-1783) and early educational policy in the United States. In particular, American philosopher and scientist Benjamin Franklin emphasized the value of utilitarian and scientific education in American schools.  Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, stressed the importance of civic education to the citizens of a democratic nation.  The Enlightenment principles that considered education as an instrument of social reform and improvement remain fundamental characteristics of American education policy.


Declaration Of Independence Document: On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, who was also a congressman from Virginia, proposed a resolution stating, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”  Jefferson was one of a committee of five appointed to draft a declaration “to the effect of the said ... resolution.”  The committee asked Jefferson to draft the paper, and according to committee member John Adams, Jefferson replied, “Well, if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.”  When his draft was completed, Adams, committee member Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson himself made corrections.


Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography: This section of Franklin's Autobiography illustrates his belief in the perfection of human beings.  In this sense, Franklin both identified with and elaborated upon the prevailing philosophical and religious currents of the time, the Age of Enlightenment.  The language and style reflect the conventions of the time.


Benjamin Franklin's View about Time: This Library afforded me the Means of Improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day; and thus repaired to some degree the loss of the learned education my Father once intended for me.  Reading was the only amusement I allowed myself.  I spent no time in taverns, games, or frolics of any kind.  In addition, my industry in my business continued as indefatigable as it was necessary.  I was in debt for my printing-house, and I had a young family coming on to be educated.  Also, I had to contend with two printers who were established in the place before me.  My Circumstances however grew daily easier: my original habits of frugality continuing.  And my Father, having among his instructions to me when I was a boy, frequently repeated a Proverb of Solomon, “Seest thou a Man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before Kings, he shall not stand before mean Men.”   I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me: though I did not think that I should ever literally stand before Kings, which however has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down to dinner with one, the King of Denmark.


Proverbs: A Proverb is a concise statement, in general use, expressing a shrewd perception about everyday life or a universally recognized truth.  Most proverbs are rooted in folklore and have been preserved by oral tradition.  An example of such commonplace wisdom is “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” The Bible has provided a large number of proverbs, for example, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”


Some proverbs have literary origins, as in the case of Benjamin Franklin's adaptation of Aesop's proverb “The gods help them that help themselves.”  Franklin himself originated the proverb “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”


Proverbs are appealing because they are succinct and because they use simple rhyme:


“A friend in need is a friend indeed”; Irony, “Physician, heal thyself”, metaphor; Still waters run deep”, and comparison or contrast, “Feed a cold and starve a fever”.


Praise to his Wife about Modern China: We have an English Proverb that says: “that would thrive must ask his wife.  It was lucky for me that I had one as much disposed to Industry and frugality as myself". She assisted me cheerfully in my Business, folding and stitching Pamphlets, tending Shop, purchasing old Linen Rags for the Paper-makers, etc., etc. Servants were kept idled; our Table was plain and simple, our Furniture of the cheapest. For instance my Breakfast was a long time Bread and Milk, (no Tea,) and I ate it out of a two-penny earthen Porringer with a Pewter Spoon. However, mark how Luxury will enter Families, and make a Progress, in Spite of Principle. Being Called one Morning to Breakfast, I found it in a China Bowl with a Spoon of Silver.  They had been bought for me without my Knowledge by my Wife, and had cost her the enormous Sum of three and twenty Shillings, for which she had no other Excuse or Apology to make, but that she thought her Husband deserved a Silver Spoon and China Bowl as well as any of his Neighbors. This was the first Appearance of Plate and China in our House, which afterwards in a Course of Years as our Wealth increased, augmented gradually to several Hundred Pounds in Value.


Religious Principle: I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and though’ some of the Dogmas of that Persuasion, such as the Eternal Decrees of God, Election, Reprobation, etc. appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the Public Assemblies of the Sect, 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; these I esteemed the Essentials of every Religion, and being to be found in all the Religions we had in our Country I respected them all, though’ with different degrees of Respect as I found them more or less mixed with other Articles which without any Tendency to inspire, promote or confirm Morality, served principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another. This Respect to all, with an Opinion that the worst had some good Effects, induced me to avoid all Discourse that might tend to lessen the good Opinion another might have of his own Religion; and as our Province increased in People and 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.


Philosophy about Life: It was about this time that I conceived the bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection.  I wished to live without committing any Fault at anytime; I would conquer all that Natural Inclination, Custom, or Company might lead me into.  As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other.  However, I soon found I had undertaken a Task of more Difficulty than I had imagined: while my Care was employed in guarding against one Fault, another often surprised me.  Habit took the Advantage of Inattention.  Inclination was sometimes too strong for Reason.  I concluded at length, that the mere speculative Conviction that it was our Interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our Slipping, and that the contrary Habits must be broken and good Ones acquired and established, before we can have any Dependence on a steady uniform Rectitude of Conduct.


Benjamin Franklin Moral Virtues: Benjamin Franklin lived his life guided by moral virtues.  The following is a summary of the moral virtues that were in practice during his lifetime: Temperance was placed first, as it tends to procure that Coolness and Clearness of Head, which is so necessary where constant Vigilance was to be kept up, and Guard maintained, against the unremitting Attraction of ancient Habits, and the Force of perpetual Temptations.


1.  Temperance- Eat not to Dullness. Drink not to Elevation.


2.  Silence-Speak not but what may benefit others or your self. Avoiding trifling Conversation.


3.  Order-Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.


4.  Resolution-Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.


5.  Frugality-Make no Expense but to do well to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.


6.  Industry-Lose no Time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.


7.  Sincerity-Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak; speak accordingly.


8.  Justice-Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.


9.  Moderation-Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.


10.  Cleanliness-Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.


11.  Tranquility-Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.


12.  Chastity-Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.


13.  Humility-Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


A quote of Benjamin Franklin about the virtues: "Would be well not to distract my Attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time, and when I should be Master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on till I should have gone through the thirteen".  As the previous Acquisition of some might facilitate the Acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that View as they stand above.


Benjamin Franklin Quotes about Other Virtues: "Silence was ranked second place because conversation was obtained by the use of the Ears and tongue.  This being acquired and established, Silence would be more easy, and my Desire being to gain Knowledge at the same time that I improved in Virtue, and considering that in Conversation it was obtained rather by the Use of the Ears than of the Tongue, and therefore wishing to break a Habit I was getting into of Prattling, Punning and Joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling Company, I gave Silence the second Place".


"The next, Order, I expected would allow me more Time for attending to my Project and my Studies; Resolution once become habitual, would keep me firm in my Endeavors to obtain all the subsequent Virtues"


" Frugality and Industry, by freeing me from my remaining Debt, and producing Affluence and Independence would make more easy the Practice of Sincerity and Justice, Conceiving then that agreeable to the Advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, daily Examination would be necessary, I contrived the following Method for conducting that Examination".


Daily Record of Virtues: Benjamin Franklin made a little Book in which I allotted a Page for each of the Virtues.  I ruled each Page with red Ink so as to have seven Columns, one for each Day of the Week, marking each Column with a Letter for the Day.  He crossed reference these Columns with thirteen red Lines, marking the Beginning of each Line with the first Letter of one of the Virtues, on which Line and in its proper Column I might mark by a little black Spot every Fault found upon Self Examination, to have been committed respecting that Virtue upon that Day.


Weekly Examination: He gave a Week's strict Attention to each of the Virtues successively.  Thus in the first Week my great Guard was to avoid every the least Offence against Temperance, leaving the other Virtues to their ordinary Chance, only marking every Evening the Faults of the Day. Thus if in the first Week, he could keep the first Line marked T clear of Spots, I supposed the Habit of that Virtue so much strengthened and its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending my Attention to include the next, and for the following Week keep both Lines clear of Spots.  Proceeding thus to the last, I could go through Course complete in Thirteen Weeks, and four Courses in a Year.  And like him who having a Garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad Herbs at once, which would exceed his Reach and his Strength, but works on one of the Beds at a time, and having accomplished the first proceeds to a second; so he should have, (I hoped) the encouraging Pleasure of seeing on my Pages the Progress made in Virtue, by clearing successively my Lines of their Spots, till in the End by a Number of Courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean Book after a thirteen Weeks' daily Examination.


This little Book had for its Motto these Lines from Addison's Cato, Here will I hold:

"If there is a Power above us,

(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud

Through' all her Works) he must delight in Virtue,

And that which he delights in must be happy".


Other Quotes from the Proverbs of Solomon Speaking of the Wisdom of Virtue:


"Length of Days is in her right hand, in her Left Hand Riches and Honors; Her Ways are Ways of Pleasantness, and all her Paths are Peace".


"And conceiving God to be the Fountain of Wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit his Assistance for obtaining it; to this End I formed the following little Prayer, which was prefixed to my Tables of Examination, for daily Use".


"O Powerful Goodness! Bountiful Father! Merciful Guide! Increase in me that Wisdom which discovers my truest Interests; strengthened my Resolutions to perform what that Wisdom dictates. Accept my kind Offices to thy other Children, as the only Return in my Power for thy continual Favors to me".


Benjamin Franklin Recited a Prayer from Thomson's Poems:


" Father of Light and Life, thou Good supreme,

O teaches me what is good, teach me thy self!

Save me from Folly, Vanity and vice,

From every low Pursuit, and fill my Soul

With Knowledge, conscious Peace, and Virtue pure,

Sacred, substantial, never fading Bliss”!


The Precept of Order requiring that every Part of any Business should have its allotted Time, one Page in his little Book contained the following Scheme of Employment for the Twenty-four Hours of a natural Day:


"I entered upon the Execution of this Plan for Self-examination, and continued it with occasional Intermissions for some time.  I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of Faults than I had imagined, but I had the Satisfaction of seeing them diminish.  To avoid the Trouble of renewing now and then my little Book, which by scraping out the Marks on the Paper of old Faults to make room for new Ones in a new Course, became full of Holes: I transferred my Tables and Precepts to the Ivory Leaves of a Memorandum Book, on which the Lines were drawn with red Ink that made a durable Stain, and on those Lines I marked my Faults with a black Lead Pencil, which Marks I could easily wipe out with a wet Sponge.  After a while I went through one Course only in a Year, and afterwards only one in several Years; till at length I omitted them entirely, being employed in Voyages and Business abroad with a Multiplicity of Affairs, that interfered.


However, I always carried my little Book with me.


Historic Structures


Historic structures associated with the country’s founders include Franklin Court, the home of American statesman Benjamin Franklin; Christ Church, where Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah, are buried.

American Philosophical Society


Benjamin Franklin, the well-known American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist, founded the society in 1743. United States President Thomas Jefferson, also the society's third president, involved the society in the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806), which he commissioned.


Franklin Residence: Franklin Residence. Of perhaps wider interest to Americans was the reopening in June of the Benjamin Franklin House, on Craven Street, where Franklin lived periodically between 1757 and 1775 while he was in London as an agent for the American colonies.


Franklin and Marshall College: Franklin and Marshall College, private, coeducational institutions were merged in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The college was formed by the merger of Franklin College—founded in 1787 and named for its benefactor, the American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist Benjamin Franklin—with Marshall College, founded in 1836 and named for the American jurist and statesman John Marshall.  The colleges merged in 1853 under the direction of James Buchanan, who later became the 15th president of the United States.


Raccoon Cap: Benjamin Franklin is famous for flaunting a raccoon cap when he traveled to Europe), but in general, fashion in the United States adapted and modified European styles.


Franklin Institute Science Museum: Franklin Institute Science Museum, institution organized in Philadelphia in 1824 for the promotion and study of applied science and the mechanic arts. It is the oldest institution of its kind in the United States.  In 1933, through the joint efforts of the institute and the Benjamin Franklin Memorial Foundation, an additional building was erected as a science museum and permanent memorial to Benjamin Franklin.  This building houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, and a museum containing the Fels Planetarium and nine hands-on exhibits (on astronomy, aviation, bioscience, communications, earth science, electricity, mathematics, mechanics, and trains) that demonstrate fundamental scientific principles. 


The Futures Center addition, which opened in 1990, contains eight state-of-the-art exhibits that highlight the advances and future implications of science and technology; these exhibits include Future Computer, Future Earth, Future Energy, Future Health, Future Materials, and Future Space.  The Journal of the Franklin Institute, published continuously since 1826, issues papers on the latest scientific developments and their application to industry.  The institute annually awards the Bower Award and Prize for distinctive contributions to the advancement of science and technology.


Commemorating the Bicentennial: Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute similarly honored Benjamin Franklin with a permanent exhibit, opened on January 17, of four “colonial” rooms, representing his roles as printer, statesman, scientist, and private citizen.


U.S. 1847 Five-Cent Stamp: The first adhesive stamps appeared in the United States in 1847.  The five-cent stamp portrays Benjamin Franklin, who was at one time postmaster general. Ironically enough, it was also Franklin’s 1766 testimony that largely supported the repeal of the Stamp Act.


Spelling Reform: Some languages, such as Dutch and Norwegian, have undergone government-sponsored spelling reform.  The unphonetic spellings in English—such as reign and light—have inspired many advocates of reform, including the American statesman Benjamin Franklin and the British playwright George Bernard Shaw.


US Coins: Other historical figures have also been featured on U.S. coins.  Statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin was shown on the half-dollars of 1948 through 1963.  Susan B. Anthony, the noted feminist and suffragette, was featured on the first small-size dollar coins, struck from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999.


Benjamin Franklin Award:


The University of Illinois announced the annual Benjamin Franklin awards, the magazine equivalent of Pulitzer prizes for newspapers, in May for the year 1955.  Look magazine received a gold medal for public service by an American magazine of general circulation, for a special section on integration, "The South Versus the Supreme Court."


250th Anniversary Celebration: On January 17, 1955, the University of Moscow celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, the key address being given by the prominent nuclear physicist Peter Kapitza, who had previously worked in Great Britain before returning to Russia.


Wherrett's Best Known Production: The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin opened in Sydney in 1976 and later in London and New York.  He was foundation director of the Sydney Theatre Company from 1979 to 1990.


125th Anniversary: To celebrate the 125th anniversary of U.S. stamps and to salute stamp collectors, an eight-cent stamp based on the Benjamin Franklin issue of 1847 was released to the public on November 17.


Brief Summary of the Period 1748 to 1786: Benjamin Franklin refused a position to serve as Colonel in the militia and served as an enlisted soldier.  He established a partnership with David Hall splitting the profits and retired as a printer.  Thereafter, he devoted himself mainly to scientific research and civic affairs.  His annual income from printing partnerships, real estate investments, and postmastership will amount to almost two thousand pounds in coming years, as much as the salary of Pennsylvania's governor.  Moved to new house away from the shop, and acquires first of several black slaves.


Benjamin Franklin establishes routine of club attendance that lasts throughout the years in England.  On Mondays, often dines at George and Vulture with group of scientists, philanthropists, and explorers, including John Ellicot and, occasionally Captain James Cook was invited.  Thursdays usually dines with his favorite group, Club of Honest Whigs, at St. Paul's Coffeehouse.  Members include John Canton, Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, James Burgh, William Rose, Andrew Kippis, and, occasionally, James Boswell. Sundays, frequently dines with Sir John Pringle, who gradually displaces printer William Strahan as closest friend in England; Alexander Small and David Hume are often guests.  January to May, confers with Penns and defends Pennsylvania at Board of Trade; finally, November 27, Penns concede limited taxation, but they write the next day to Pennsylvania Assembly averring that Franklin lacks candor.  Benjamin Franklin and John Haley, Professor of chemistry performing evaporation experiments. July 1, visited ancestral homes at Ecton and Banbury with son William, collecting genealogical information.  In December 2, invented the damper for stoves or chimneys.


A Brief Summary for 1765: Benjamin Franklin with other colonial agents held an interview February 2, 1765 with First Minister George Greenville to protest laying of stamp duties in America.  Minister Greenville introduced the annual budget in Parliament containing a proposal for the Stamp Act. On February 12, Franklin and Thomas Pownall, former colonial governor who favored stronger ties between colonies and Great Britain, met Greenville to offer an alternative proposal to raise revenue in America by issuing paper money at interest, but the Minister ignored them.  On February 27, the Stamp Act passed by the House of Commons, receiving royal assent on March 22, and scheduled to take effect November 1st.  At Greenville’s request, Franklin nominated his friend John Hughes as Pennsylvania stamp distributor, leading to rumors that Franklin actually supports the Stamp Act. Franklin and Pownall succeed in April in getting Quartering Bill amended to eliminate forcible quartering of British troops in private dwellings in America passing on May 3rd. 


Burlesques foolish news reports about America in English newspapers by publishing tall tales, May 3, concluding, "The Grand Leap of the Whale in that Chace up the Fall of Niagara is esteemed by all who have seen it, as one of the finest Spectacles in Nature!" The Stamp Act protests spread throughout colonies during the summer; in Philadelphia, mobs attack stamp distributors, and Franklin's house is threatened, September 16-17; Deborah arms herself, refusing to flee. Mob is dissuaded by readiness of 800 Franklin supporters to combat them.


On  November 1, Stamp Act failed to go into effect as courts refuse to convene and administration of government in colonies breaks down.  Franklin presents Privy Council with Pennsylvania petition for change to royal government, but consideration is postponed. Winter, writes newspaper articles defending the colonies and agitating for repeal of Stamp Act.


Brief Summary for 1776: New Jersey militia, acting on resolution of Congress, deprived William Franklin of official functions as royal governor of New Jersey in January; confined to his home in Perth Amboy, he is arrested in June and sent under guard to Connecticut to be imprisoned. Franklin, in Congress, declined to intercede for his son.  On January 16, Benjamin Franklin argued for "Instrument of confederation" in Congress but is defeated.  On February 19, urged four New England governments to enter into confederation and invite other colonies then to accede to it. 


Congress ordered new designs for fractional dollars, and Franklin creates device of thirteen linked circles and "Fugio" design (later used on first United States coin, Fugio cent of 1787).  Benjamin Franklin resigned from Pennsylvania Assembly to devote himself to Congressional duties.  Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin commissioner to Canada.  On March 26, he was sent to a mission to Montreal for thirty days. He was suffering from large boils, swollen legs, and dizziness.  June 1st, Benjamin Franklin was appointed by Congress to committee to draft declaration of independence.  Thomas Jefferson was named first to the committee; he was its chair and chose to draft the declaration himself.


On July 2, Benjamin voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee's motion for independence.  Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4.  July 8 he was elected delegate from Philadelphia to Pennsylvania state convention.  Benjamin Franklin was chosen president of the Pennsylvania convention on July 16.  He was nominated at the convention as Congressional delegate. 


Benjamin asked for Congress's permission to answer personal letter from Lord Howe, wrote the letter: "Long did I endeavor with unfeigned and unwearied Zeal, to preserve from breaking, that fine and noble China Vase the British Empire."  On August 15, revised the draft of the Declaration of Rights with the following comments:  "that claims of the state has the right to discourage large concentrations of property as a danger to the happiness of mankind", later rejected by the Pennsylvania convention.  On July 30-August 1st, during the Congressional debates on Articles of Confederation unsuccessfully advocated proportional, rather than equal, representation of states in Congress.  Franklin was appointed by Congress to meet with Lord Howe, on Staten Island; they were unable to conciliate English and American differences. 


In September, elected by Congress commissioner to France with Silas Deane and Arthur Lee, and is instructed to negotiate the treaty.  The first Draft: "Sketch of Propositions for a peace" in fall, suggesting Britain cedes Canada to United States.  On October 27, departs Philadelphia and sailed for France taking the grandsons William Temple Franklin (William's illegitimate son) and Benjamin Franklin Bache (eldest of Sarah's children).  He proceeded to Paris to negotiate the treaty. On December 28, he met secretly with Comte de Vergennes, French foreign minister to present his offer.


A Brief Summary for 1786:  In January, designed an instrument for taking down books from high shelves. Finding Market Street house (now occupied by daughter Sarah Bache, her husband, and six children) too cramped, builds addition, including large dining room and library to house more than 4,000 volumes.


Summary: American statesman Benjamin Franklin was respected both at home and abroad for his scientific acumen, his humane, philosophical mind, and his diplomatic accomplishments. His contributions to the deliberations of the constitutional convention that met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787 were bound to be influential.  The constitution was in many ways a collection of compromises between the various delegates: There was a real danger that it would fail to be ratified by the number of states requisite to make it binding on them all. 


Franklin submitted this speech in convention after the constitution was approved but before the delegates had signed the document.  Benjamin Franklin was a statesman and diplomat for the newly formed United States, as well as a prolific author and inventor.  Benjamin Franklin, the well-known American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist, founded the society in 1743.  Franklin helped draft, and then signed, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  Franklin and Marshall College, private, coeducational institutions were merged in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Franklin Institute Science Museum, institution organized in Philadelphia in 1824 for the promotion and study of applied science and the mechanic arts.  It is the oldest institution of its kind in the United States. 


The Post Office honored Benjamin Franklin’s accomplishments with the issue of the five cents stamp in 1847.  Statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin was shown on the half-dollars of 1948 through 1963.  The University of Illinois announced the annual Benjamin Franklin awards, the magazine equivalent of Pulitzer prizes for newspapers, in May for the year 1955.  On January 17, 1955, the University of Moscow celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin.  The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin opened in Sydney in 1976 and later in London and New York.










































"The Stamp Act Crisis" by Edmund and Helen M. Morgan, PP. 43-45. Printed by Collier Press, Copyright 1963.


Account of a Declaration, This is from the autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, and put together by Left Justified.


Journal of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth's Expeditions to the Oregon Country


The Revolution's Black Soldiers by Robert A. Selig

Web Site:


Thomas Paine's The Crisis, Number One, 1776 By Richard DeStefano

Web Site:


The Glimpses of the Man-Benjamin Franklin, Web Site:


Resources List, Benjamin Franklin, Web site:


Biography of Benjamin Franklin, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Electrical Discoveries of Benjamin Franklin, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Colonial America Contributions of Benjamin Franklin by James Henrreta, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


American Literature, Contributions of   Benjamin Franklin, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Benjamin Franklin, Quick Facts, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Benjamin Franklin Library, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Benjamin Franklin Foundation, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Franklin Institute Science Museum, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.



Democratic Republic of the Congo- Kongo Kingdom, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Franklin, Benjamin. Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1986,Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.  


Bald Eagle, Animals by Stephen Dalton, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Spelling Reform, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


US Coins, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


First Newspaper, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Franklin and Marshall College, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


American Philosophical Society By Richard H. Popkin, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Referring to Thomas Edison (Referring to Edison's Scientific Work) by Kenneth Clark (1903 - 1983) British art historian. Referring to Thomas Edison.


Deism Philosophy By Richard H. Popkin, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.