Printer, writer, scientist, statesman. Born January 17, 1706, in Boston,
Massachusetts. The 15th child in his family, Franklin went to work at age
10 in his father’s chandlery, then in a brother’s printing house. Ambitious
and intent on self-improvement, he became a skilled printer while reading
widely and developing a writing style. In 1723, at age 17, Franklin left
for Philadelphia. Starting with no capital, he advanced rapidly and, after
a brief stint as a printer in London, had by 1730 become sole owner of a
business that included the Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1732, Franklin began
publishing the annual Poor Richard’s Almanac. It attracted a large
readership and made Franklin’s name a household word. Active in the
community, Franklin founded a discussion group called the Junta that
evolved into the American Philosophical Association and helped establish
the first U.S. lending library , as well as an academy that evolved into
the University of Pennsylvania. Appointed as a clerk in the Pennsylvania
Assembly, Franklin held a seat there from 1751 to 1764. He served as a city
deputy postmaster, he improved postal efficiency and made the postal
service solvent.

In 1748, his business having expanded, Franklin retired, turning it over to
his foreman, thus gaining more time for scientific pursuits. In the early
1740s, he had developed the fuel-efficient Franklin open stove. Later he
conducted a series of experiments, described in his Experiments and
Observations on Electricity (1751–53), which brought him international
recognition as a scientist. In 1752, Franklin conducted his famous kite
experiment, demonstrating that lightning is an electrical discharge; he
also announced his invention of the lightning rod. A later invention for
which Franklin is well-known was the bifocal lens (1760).

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Franklin represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress in 1754, called in
response to the French and Indian Wars. He pursued diplomatic activities in
England, obtaining permission for Pennsylvania to tax the estates of its
proprietors, securing repeal of the Stamp Act, and representing the
interests of several colonies. Franklin went to France to help negotiate
treaties of commerce and alliance
Returning to the U.S. in 1785, Franklin served as a conciliating presence
at the Constitutional Convention. In his last years he corresponded widely,
received many visitors, and invented a device for lifting books from high