Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, in 1706. His father was a soap and candlemaker, and he was his tenth son. Although he had some formal education, he was mostly self-taught. Before he went to work for his half-brother James, who was a printer, he served an apprenticeship to his father between the ages of 10 and 10. In 1721, Benjamin secretly contributed 14 essays to the fourth newspaper in the New England Courant, which were his first published writings.
In 1723, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, because of dissension with his half-brother James, where he obtained employment as a printer. He lived only one year in Philadelphia and then went to London, where he spent two years. Franklin rose quickly in the printing industry in Philadelphia. Franklin published The Pennsylvania Gazette (1730-48), which was found in 1728 by another man, but his best and most successful literary venture was the annual Poor Richard’s Almanac (1733-58).
It gained a huge popularity and found its way to Europe quickly. In 1730, Benjamin married Deborah Read, who gave a birth to son and daughter. However, he apparently had more children with another nameless women, too. Franklin gained recognition for his philanthropy and the stimulus he provided to such civic causes as educational institutions, hospitals, and libraries, and he achieved financial independence in 1748. He also found time to pursue his interest in politics, as well as in science.
He served as member of the colonial legislature (1751-64), clerk (1736-51), deputy postmaster general of the colonies (1753-74), and before that as deputy postmaster of Philadelphia (1737-53). In 1754, he also represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress. He called to unite the colonies during the Indian and French War. His “Plan of Union” was adopted by the congress, but it was rejected by the colonial assemblies because it encroached on their powers.
Franklin resided in England during the years 1757-62 and 1764-75, originally in the capacity of agent for Pennsylvania and later for Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia. He underwent a political metamorphosis during the latter period, that coincided with the growth of colonial unrest. Until then, his primary concern was politic of Pennsylvania, but Franklin distrusted popular movements and saw small purpose to be served in carrying principle to extremes.
He led the attach of the Quaker party on the Anglican proprietary party and their allies, until the matter of parliamentary taxation undermined the old alliances. Throughout the years at London, his purpose had been displacement of the Penn family administration by royal authority. During the Stamp Act crisis Benjamin evolved to celebrated spokesman at London for American rights. In 1765, he opposed by every conceivable means the enactment of the bill.
He didn’t realize at first the depth of colonial hostility. Later he regarded passage as unavoidable and submit to it, but in realty he was working against it. His acceptance of the legislation, coupled with his nomination of a friend and political ally as stamp distributor for Pennsylvania, armed his opponents with explosive issues. His reputation at home was endangered by their energetic exploitation, until reliable information was published, which demonstrated Franklin’s unabated opposition to the act.
His new home in Philadelphia and his family were threatened by mob resentment, until his tradesmen supporters rallied. During the debates over the Stamp Act’s repeal, Franklin’s defense of the American position in the House of Commons restored his prestige at home. In May 1775, he returned to Philadelphia and became a distinguished member of the Continental Congress. About one year later, Franklin served on the committee which drafted the Declaration of Independence.
In addition, he contributed to the government in other important ways, such as service as postmaster general. He also took over the duties of president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. However, after year and half he once again returned in Europe were he begun a career as diplomat. In the years 1776-79, Franklin was one of three commissioners who directed the negotiations which led to treaties of commerce and alliance with France.
Together with John Adams and John Jay, Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the War for Independence. In 1785, back in the United States, he become president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. In 1787, he was also elected as a first president of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, which was a cause he had committed himself as early as the 1730s. Franklin’s last public act was signing a memorial to Congress recommending dissolution of the slavery system. In 1790, Benjamin Franklin passed away at the age of 84 in Philadelphia and was laid to rest in Christ Church Burial Ground.