164 Facts About Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department, and the University of Pennsylvania.


Benjamin Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, and as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies.


Benjamin Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment.


Benjamin Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at age 23.


Benjamin Franklin became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he wrote under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders".


Benjamin Franklin pioneered and was the first president of the Academy and College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania.


Benjamin Franklin organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769.


Benjamin Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act.


Benjamin Franklin's efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing French aid.


Benjamin Franklin was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs.


Benjamin Franklin initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the late 1750s, he began arguing against slavery, became an abolitionist, and promoted education and the integration of African Americans into US society.


Over his lifetime, Franklin wrote or received more than 30,000 letters and other documents, which since the 1950s have been collected in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, published by both the American Philosophical Society and Yale University.


Benjamin Franklin's father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler, soaper, and candlemaker.


Benjamin Franklin's father and all four of his grandparents were born in England.


Josiah Benjamin Franklin had a total of seventeen children with his two wives.


Benjamin Franklin married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and emigrated with her to Boston in 1683; they had three children before emigration and four after.


Benjamin Franklin's father wanted him to attend school with the clergy but only had enough money to send him to school for two years.


Benjamin Franklin attended Boston Latin School but did not graduate; he continued his education through voracious reading.


Benjamin Franklin worked for his father for a time, and at 12 he became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught him the printing trade.


When Benjamin Franklin was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was one of the first American newspapers.


When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Benjamin Franklin adopted the pseudonym of "Silence Dogood", a middle-aged widow.


Benjamin Franklin was an advocate of free speech from an early age.


At age 17, Benjamin Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, seeking a new start in a new city.


The Junto was modeled after English coffeehouses that Benjamin Franklin knew well and which had become the center of the spread of Enlightenment ideas in Britain.


Benjamin Franklin conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read.


Benjamin Franklin often visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, staying at the Moravian Sun Inn.


Benjamin Franklin tried to influence American moral life through the construction of a printing network based on a chain of partnerships from the Carolinas to New England.


Benjamin Franklin quickly did away with all of this when he took over the Instructor and made it The Pennsylvania Gazette.


Benjamin Franklin had mixed success in his plan to establish an inter-colonial network of newspapers that would produce a profit for him and disseminate virtue.


Benjamin Franklin was one of the colonial era's first woman printers.


For three decades Benjamin Franklin maintained a close business relationship with her and her son Peter Timothy, who took over the South Carolina Gazette in 1746.


In 1730 or 1731, Benjamin Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic lodge.


Benjamin Franklin became a grand master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania.


Benjamin Franklin was the secretary of St John's Lodge in Philadelphia from 1735 to 1738.


Benjamin Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.


At age 17 in 1723, Benjamin Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read while a boarder in the Read home.


At that time, Deborah's mother was wary of allowing her young daughter to marry Benjamin Franklin, who was on his way to London at Governor Keith's request, and because of his financial instability.


In 1730,24-year-old Benjamin Franklin publicly acknowledged his illegitimate son William and raised him in his household.


Benjamin Franklin was educated in Philadelphia and beginning at about age 30 studied law in London in the early 1760s.


In 1762, the elder William Benjamin Franklin married Elizabeth Downes, daughter of a planter from Barbados, in London.


Benjamin Franklin was incarcerated in Connecticut for two years, in Wallingford and Middletown, and, after being caught surreptitiously engaging Americans into supporting the Loyalist cause, was held in solitary confinement at Litchfield for eight months.


When British troops evacuated from New York, William Benjamin Franklin left with them and sailed to England.


Benjamin Franklin settled in London, never to return to North America.


In 1733, Benjamin Franklin began to publish the noted Poor Richard's Almanack under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, on which much of his popular reputation is based.


Benjamin Franklin had developed a distinct, signature style that was plain, pragmatic and had a sly, soft but self-deprecating tone with declarative sentences.


In 1741, Benjamin Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America.


Benjamin Franklin used the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales as the cover illustration.


Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, begun in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the classics of the genre.


In 1736, Benjamin Franklin created the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America.


Benjamin Franklin was influential in the more restrained and thus successful monetary experiments in the Middle Colonies, which stopped deflation without causing excessive inflation.


However, the person he had in mind to run the academy, Rev Richard Peters, refused and Benjamin Franklin put his ideas away until 1749 when he printed his own pamphlet, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania.


Benjamin Franklin began the electrical research that, along with other scientific inquiries, would occupy him for the rest of his life, in between bouts of politics and moneymaking.


Benjamin Franklin raised money to create earthwork defenses and buy artillery.


In 1747, Benjamin Franklin retired from printing and went into other businesses.


Benjamin Franklin formed a partnership with his foreman, David Hall, which provided Franklin with half of the shop's profits for 18 years.


In 1752, Benjamin Franklin organized the Philadelphia Contributionship, the Colonies' first homeowner's insurance company.


Benjamin Franklin solicited, printed in 1752, and promoted an American textbook of moral philosophy by Samuel Johnson, titled Elementa Philosophica, to be taught in the new colleges.


Johnson went on to found King's College in New York City in 1754, while Benjamin Franklin hired Smith as provost of the College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1755.


Benjamin Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union for the colonies.


Benjamin Franklin used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Native American uprisings that beset the American colonies.


Benjamin Franklin reorganized the service's accounting system and improved speed of delivery between Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.


Benjamin Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position.


Benjamin Franklin had just returned from England and was appointed chairman of a Committee of Investigation to establish a postal system.


Benjamin Franklin appointed Goddard as Surveyor of the Posts, issued him a signed pass, and directed him to investigate and inspect the various post offices and mail routes as he saw fit.


Benjamin Franklin remained there for five years, striving to end the proprietors' prerogative to overturn legislation from the elected Assembly and their exemption from paying taxes on their land.


Benjamin Franklin's call for a change from proprietary to royal government was a rare political miscalculation, however: Pennsylvanians worried that such a move would endanger their political and religious freedoms.


Benjamin Franklin soon learned of the extent of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act, and he testified during the House of Commons proceedings that led to its repeal.


Benjamin Franklin wrote popular essays on behalf of the colonies.


Benjamin Franklin belonged to a gentleman's club, which held stated meetings, and included members such as Richard Price, the minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church who ignited the Revolution controversy, and Andrew Kippis.


Benjamin Franklin was, for example, a corresponding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham.


Benjamin Franklin was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University in 1762.


Benjamin Franklin was the first American to receive this honor.


Benjamin Franklin feared that the American colonies could eventually come to the same level of poverty if the regulations and laws continued to apply to them.


Benjamin Franklin spent two months in German lands in 1766, but his connections to the country stretched across a lifetime.


Benjamin Franklin declared a debt of gratitude to German scientist Otto von Guericke for his early studies of electricity.


Benjamin Franklin co-authored the first treaty of friendship between Prussia and America in 1785.


Benjamin Franklin's reputation meant that he was introduced to many influential scientists and politicians, and to King Louis XV.


Benjamin Franklin became the American spokesman in highly publicized testimony in Parliament in 1766.


Benjamin Franklin stated that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire.


In 1772, Benjamin Franklin obtained private letters of Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, proving that they had encouraged the Crown to crack down on Bostonians.


Benjamin Franklin is known to have occasionally attended the Hellfire Club's meetings during 1758 as a non-member during his time in England.


One early proponent that Benjamin Franklin was a member of the Hellfire Club and a double agent is the historian Donald McCormick, who has a history of making controversial claims.


In 1763, soon after Benjamin Franklin returned to Pennsylvania from England for the first time, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac's Rebellion.


Benjamin Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob.


Benjamin Franklin met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse.


Benjamin Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice of the Paxton Boys.


Benjamin Franklin provided an early response to British surveillance through his own network of counter-surveillance and manipulation.


Benjamin Franklin took with him as secretary his 16-year-old grandson, William Temple Franklin.


Benjamin Franklin conducted the affairs of his country toward the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in 1778 and signing the 1783 Treaty of Paris.


Benjamin Franklin served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country.


Benjamin Franklin became so enthusiastic that he subscribed financially to the next project to build a manned hydrogen balloon.


When he returned home in 1785, Benjamin Franklin occupied a position second only to that of George Washington as the champion of American independence.


Benjamin Franklin returned from France with an unexplained shortage of 100,000 pounds in Congressional funds.


Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Duplessis, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC After his return, Benjamin Franklin became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves.


Benjamin Franklin eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.


Benjamin Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the constitutional limit of three full terms.


Benjamin Franklin suffered from obesity throughout his middle-age and later years, which resulted in multiple health problems, particularly gout, which worsened as he aged.


Benjamin Franklin was aged 84 at the time of his death.


Franklin's death is described in the book The Life of Benjamin Franklin, quoting from the account of John Jones:.


Benjamin Franklin was interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.


In 1728, aged 22, Benjamin Franklin wrote what he hoped would be his own epitaph:.


Benjamin Franklin started exploring the phenomenon of electricity in the 1740s, after he met the itinerant lecturer Archibald Spencer who used static electricity in his demonstrations.


Benjamin Franklin proposed a dinner party where a turkey was to be killed via electric shock and roasted on an electrical spit.


Benjamin Franklin briefly investigated electrotherapy, including the use of the electric bath.


Benjamin Franklin advised Harvard University in its acquisition of new electrical laboratory apparatus after the complete loss of its original collection, in a fire that destroyed the original Harvard Hall in 1764.


Benjamin Franklin published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm.


Benjamin Franklin was careful to stand on an insulator, keeping dry under a roof to avoid the danger of electric shock.


Benjamin Franklin did not perform this experiment in the way that is often pictured in popular literature, flying the kite and waiting to be struck by lightning, as it would have been dangerous.


Benjamin Franklin said that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point could discharge silently and at a far greater distance.


Benjamin Franklin had a major influence on the emerging science of demography or population studies.


Benjamin Franklin calculated that America's population was doubling every 20 years and would surpass that of England in a century.


Four years later, it was anonymously printed in Boston and was quickly reproduced in Britain, where it influenced the economist Adam Smith and later the demographer Thomas Malthus, who credited Benjamin Franklin for discovering a rule of population growth.


Kammen and Drake say Benjamin Franklin's Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind stands alongside Ezra Stiles' "Discourse on Christian Union" as the leading works of 18th-century Anglo-American demography; Drake credits Benjamin Franklin's "wide readership and prophetic insight".


Benjamin Franklin was a pioneer in the study of slave demography, as shown in his 1755 essay.


Benjamin Franklin put the question to his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket whaler captain, who told him that merchant ships routinely avoided a strong eastbound mid-ocean current.


Benjamin Franklin worked with Folger and other experienced ship captains, learning enough to chart the current and name it the Gulf Stream, by which it is still known today.


Benjamin Franklin published his Gulf Stream chart in 1770 in England, where it was ignored.


In 1853, the oceanographer and cartographer Matthew Fontaine Maury noted that while Benjamin Franklin charted and codified the Gulf Stream, he did not discover it:.


An aging Benjamin Franklin accumulated all his oceanographic findings in Maritime Observations, published by the Philosophical Society's transactions in 1786.


Benjamin Franklin was, along with his contemporary Leonhard Euler, the only major scientist who supported Christiaan Huygens's wave theory of light, which was basically ignored by the rest of the scientific community.


Benjamin Franklin was said to have noted that the prevailing winds were actually from the northeast, contrary to what he had expected.


Benjamin Franklin deduced that storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, a concept that greatly influenced meteorology.


Benjamin Franklin noted a principle of refrigeration by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one.


Benjamin Franklin studied the effects on a large pond in Clapham Common, London.


Benjamin Franklin felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended religious services himself.


The family attended the Old South Church, the most liberal Puritan congregation in Boston, where Benjamin Franklin was baptized in 1706.


Benjamin Franklin learned about forming do-good associations from Mather, but his organizational skills made him the most influential force in making voluntarism an enduring part of the American ethos.


Benjamin Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in 1728.


Benjamin Franklin classified himself as a deist in his 1771 autobiography, although he still considered himself a Christian.


Benjamin Franklin retained a strong faith in a God as the wellspring of morality and goodness in man, and as a Providential actor in history responsible for American independence.


Benjamin Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical minister George Whitefield during the First Great Awakening.


Benjamin Franklin did not himself subscribe to Whitefield's theology, but he admired Whitefield for exhorting people to worship God through good works.


Benjamin Franklin published all of Whitefield's sermons and journals, thereby earning a lot of money and boosting the Great Awakening.


When he stopped attending church, Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography:.


Benjamin Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently.


Benjamin Franklin, steeped in Puritanism and an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical movement, rejected the salvation dogma but embraced the radical notion of egalitarian democracy.


Benjamin Franklin composed "A Parable Against Persecution", an apocryphal 51st chapter of Genesis in which God teaches Abraham the duty of tolerance.


Benjamin Franklin prayed to "Powerful Goodness" and referred to God as "the infinite".


In 1790, just about a month before he died, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University, who had asked him his views on religion:.


Benjamin Franklin's proposal featured the motto: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" and a scene from the Book of Exodus, with Moses, the Israelites, the pillar of fire, and George III depicted as pharaoh.


Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life.


Benjamin Franklin owned as many as seven slaves, including two men who worked in his household and his shop.


Benjamin Franklin posted paid ads for the sale of slaves and for the capture of runaway slaves and allowed the sale of slaves in his general store.


Benjamin Franklin took two slaves to England with him, Peter and King.


Benjamin Franklin refused to publicly debate the issue of slavery at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.


Benjamin Franklin became a vegetarian when he was a teenager apprenticing at a print shop, after coming upon a book by the early vegetarian advocate Thomas Tryon.


Benjamin Franklin declared the consumption of meat to be "unprovoked murder".


Benjamin Franklin was "excited" by tofu, which he learned of from the writings of a Spanish missionary to South East Asia, Domingo Fernandez Navarrete.


Benjamin Franklin sent a sample of soybeans to prominent American botanist John Bartram and had previously written to British diplomat and Chinese trade expert James Flint inquiring as to how tofu was made, with their correspondence believed to be the first documented use of the word "tofu" in the English language.


James Benjamin Franklin's newspaper carried articles in 1721 that vigorously denounced the concept.


Benjamin Franklin is known to have played the violin, the harp, and the guitar.


Benjamin Franklin composed music, notably a string quartet in early classical style.


Benjamin Franklin worked with the London glassblower Charles James to create it, and instruments based on his mechanical version soon found their way to other parts of Europe.


Benjamin Franklin was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies.


Benjamin Franklin was able to play chess more frequently against stronger opposition during his many years as a civil servant and diplomat in England, where the game was far better established than in America.


Benjamin Franklin was able to improve his playing standard by facing more experienced players during this period.


Benjamin Franklin regularly attended Old Slaughter's Coffee House in London for chess and socializing, making many important personal contacts.


Benjamin Franklin was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 1999.


The trust began in 1785 when the French mathematician Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour, who admired Benjamin Franklin greatly, wrote a friendly parody of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack called Fortunate Richard.


From 1948 to 1963, Benjamin Franklin's portrait was on the half-dollar.


Benjamin Franklin has appeared on a $50 bill and on several varieties of the $100 bill from 1914 and 1918.


The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson, who lived in the house for two years and who had built a small anatomy school at the back of the house.


Benjamin Franklin has been honored on US postage stamps many times.


Benjamin Franklin appeared on the first US postage stamp issued in 1847.