Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

American statesman, inventor, writer, and diplomat. Born in Boston, Franklin was apprenticed at twelve to his brother, a printer. He resettled in Philadelphia and at twenty-four was editor and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1733 he began writing Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of aphorisms and advice. Retiring from business at forty-two to devote himself to study and research, he soon found himself involved in colonial politics. From 1757 until 1763 he represented the colonies in England. He served on the committee appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence and later was both minister to France and delegate to the Paris peace conference that officially concluded the Revolutionary War. Revered as “the First American,” late in his life he became an advocate for the abolition of slavery. His posthumously published Autobiography is a classic memoir. See also