Benjamin Franklin: Biography and 12 Major Accomplishments
Benjamin Franklin was a prominent Founding Father and a statesman of the United States of America. Over the course of his life, Benjamin pushed himself in areas far and beyond politics. Hence, he ended up becoming one of America’s most renowned inventors, postmasters, printers, civic activists, scientists, authors and diplomats.
He holds the singular honor of having his signature on all four of America’s most sacred documents – the Declaration of Independence; the Alliance Treaty with France in 1778; the Treaty of Paris in 1783; and the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
Below is an in-depth look at the biography, facts and major accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin, America’s greatest statesman and diplomat.
Early Life and his Printing Businesses
On January 17, 1706, Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. He was born into a very large family. He had 9 siblings and 7 half-siblings. The relatively large size of the family meant that the Franklins had to do the best that they could to make ends meet since money was not always easy to come by.
Benjamin Franklin’s father, Josiah Franklin, was an English-born soap and candle maker. This form of artisanship was considered one of the lowest paid and ill-attractive jobs in 18th century America. Although he hated doing so, the young Benjamin had no option than to help out at his father’s soap and candle shop.
His favorite pastime was rather reading. At the age of 10, Benjamin Franklin began to self-educate himself by extensively reading and writing, a habit that ended up paying huge dividends in Franklin’s future endeavors.
Benjamin’s father wanted him to become a clergyman. However, and owing to financial difficulties, there was very little to go around the family. As a result, Benjamin Franklin could only get two years’ worth of (formal) schooling in his life. He spent some of those two years at the Boston Latin School.
Upon attaining the age of 12, Franklin took up apprenticeship training at his older brother’s (James) printing shop in Boston. Gradually, the young Benjamin expertly built skill sets in writing, printing and editing. Under the pseudonym Silence Dogood, Benjamin Franklin penned several essays in James’ newspaper- the New-England Courant. Benjamin resorted to such cunning tactics because the older Franklin refused publishing his works in the newspaper.
However, all hell broke lose when James discovered that the middle-aged Mrs Silence Dogood was none other than Benjamin Franklin. The fallout between the two brothers was massive; and in 1723, Benjamin Franklin left James’ shop in Boston and set his sights on Philadelphia. The reason why he left was because he felt James failed to treat him well.
With the experience he garnered at his brother’s printing business, Benjamin was able to get a job as printer in Philadelphia. A year later, he was again on the move. This time around, he journeyed across the Atlantic and made his way to London, England. Over there, he worked in Samuel Palmer’s printing shop as a typesetter.
The Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s almanack
After a couple of years abroad, Benjamin Franklin returned to America and collaborated with Thomas Denhem to setup a successful printing business in 1726. By 1729, he had started publishing extensively in a Pennsylvania newspaper (The Pennsylvania Gazette) that had reasonably wide distribution in the state.
The most famous piece of writing published by Franklin in the newspaper has to be “Poor Richard’s Almanack”. The publication, which ran from 1732 to 1758, was fondly received by the public because of its message of frugality and diligence. The newspaper went on to sell about 10,000 copies of the Poor Richard’s Almanack for close to 25 years.
His ultimate goal in entering the printing business, aside from financial reasons, was to propagate what we might now call the “American Dream”. He tried to use the print media to construct a very morally upright and industrious society across the American colonies. Politically, his association with the “Pennsylvania Chronicle” enabled him drum up support for the American Revolution.