History of Benjamin Franklin

by Dawson Orsburn

The Newton of Electricity

Benjamin Franklin's thoughts and contributions changed the face of the world and formed the United States of America.

Ben's Early Life

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in what was then known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His Father, Josiah Franklin, a soap and candle maker, had 17 children, seven with his first wife, Anne Child, and ten with his second wife, Abiah Folger. Benjamin was his 15th child and his last son. Despite his success at the Boston Latin School, Ben was removed at the age of ten to work with his father at candle making, but dipping wax and cutting wicks didn’t fire his imagination. Josiah apprentices Ben at twelve to his brother James at his print shop.

Josiah aspired that Ben would one day become a preacher, and thus sent him along this traditional track of education. Due to financial constraints, Benjamin was sent to Mr. George Brownwell’s school for writing and arithmetic less than a year before grammar school. He immediately excelled most of all in the field of writing.

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." - Benjamin Franklin


Franklin contributed to many important documents, including the Albany Plan of Union, the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and The Constitution. He also wrote the Poor Richard’s Almanac, which contained the calendar, weather, poems, sayings, and astronomical information. His famous stormy kite flight in June 1752, led him to develop many of the terms we use today when we talk about electricity: battery, conductor, condenser, charge, discharge, uncharged, negative, minus, plus, electric shock, and electrician.


As an inventor, his accomplishments were unusual. He also aided in changing our standards of life by the invention of the Franklin Stove and started the pioneer work to harness electricity to be an agent for the benefit of mankind. In Philadelphia, he also founded one of the great universities of the world. In government, he made contributions in developing unity and democracy in our colonies, and he also served for many years as official colonial agent in London for Pennsylvania. He pointed out for a long time to the British Government that taxation without representation was a principle upon which America stood firmly.

Married Life

In the prime of his business, he fathered a son named William. To this day only Ben knew who the mother was.

When William was two, Deborah's husband ran off with another woman and was not see again, so Benjamin Franklin took his childhood love to be his bride.

He and Deborah made off very well in the world. She ran a shop with all sorts of odd and ends, and he owned a printing shop and bookstore. People said they never saw a happier pair.


Of all the representatives sent abroad by the Congress of the thirteen states in the early part of the Revolutionary war to secure aid of various kinds from certain friendly nations, no one has equaled Benjamin Franklin in ability, tact, common sense, diplomacy, and reputation that was national as well as worldwide. Any government to which he was assigned received an unusual personality. He established in Philadelphia better plans of transportation and also aided throughout Pennsylvania and improved communication. He helped save property from destruction and aided insurance plans against fire.

Love for literature

Fortunately, not all of Ben’s time was spent inside the shop. After work, or after church on Sunday, he could find a quiet corner and read. Most of the books in the house were on religion. These the boy found of little value. He already knew that he was a “free thinker.” He believed in God, but not necessarily in everything preached from the pulpit of the Old South Church.


Benjamin died on April 17, 1790, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the home of his daughter, Sarah Bache.

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
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