In he petitioned the U. Congress to end slavery and the slave trade. In , he was elected a Philadelphia alderman and a representative to the Pennsylvania Assembly, a position to which he was re-elected annually until Two years later, he accepted a royal appointment as deputy postmaster general of North America. He represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress, which adopted his proposal to create a unified government for the 13 colonies.
Franklin sailed to London to negotiate a long-standing dispute with the proprietors of the colony, the Penn family, taking William and his two slaves but leaving behind Deborah and Sarah. He spent much of the next two decades in London, where he was drawn to the high society and intellectual salons of the cosmopolitan city.
Who Was Benjamin Franklin?
After Franklin returned to Philadelphia in , he toured the colonies to inspect its post offices. Since Franklin purchased stamps for his printing business and nominated a friend as the Pennsylvania stamp distributor, some colonists thought Franklin implicitly supported the new tax, and rioters in Philadelphia even threatened his house. Franklin fanned the flames of revolution by sending the private letters of Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson to America.
The letters called for the restriction of the rights of colonists, which caused a firestorm after their publication by Boston newspapers. In the wake of the scandal, Franklin was removed as deputy postmaster general, and he returned to North America in as a devotee of the patriot cause. In , Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and appointed the first postmaster general for the colonies.
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In , he was appointed commissioner to Canada and was one of five men to draft the Declaration of Independence. After voting for independence in , Franklin was elected commissioner to France, making him essentially the first U. At the age of 74, he even proposed marriage to a widow named Madame Helvetius, but she rejected him. Franklin was embraced in France as much, if not more, for his wit and intellectual standing in the scientific community as for his status as a political appointee from a fledgling country. His reputation facilitated respect and entrees into closed communities, including the court of King Louis XVI.
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And it was his adept diplomacy that led to the Treaty of Paris in , which ended the Revolutionary War. After almost a decade in France, Franklin returned to the United States in Franklin was elected in to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention , which drafted and ratified the new U.
The oldest delegate at the age of 81, Franklin initially supported proportional representation in Congress, but he fashioned the Great Compromise that resulted in proportional representation in the House of Representatives and equal representation by state in the Senate.
In , he helped found the Society for Political Inquiries, dedicated to improving knowledge of government. Franklin was never elected president of the United States. However, he played an important role as one of eight Founding Fathers, helping draft the Declaration of Independence and the U. He also served several roles in the government: He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly and appointed as the first postmaster general for the colonies as well as diplomat to France.
He was a true polymath and entrepreneur, which is no doubt why he is often called the "First American. Franklin died on April 17, , in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the home of his daughter, Sarah Bache. He was 84, suffered from gout and had complained of ailments for some time, completing the final codicil to his will a little more than a year and a half prior to his death.
He bequeathed most of his estate to Sarah and very little to his son William, whose opposition to the patriot cause still stung him. He also donated money that funded scholarships, schools and museums in Boston and Philadelphia. But the scope of things he applied himself to was so broad it seems a shame.
Founding universities and libraries, the post office, shaping the foreign policy of the fledgling United States, helping to draft the Declaration of Independence, publishing newspapers, warming us with the Franklin stove, pioneering advances in science, letting us see with bifocals and lighting our way with electricity—all from a man who never finished school but shaped his life through abundant reading and experience, a strong moral compass and an unflagging commitment to civic duty.
Franklin illuminated corners of American life that still have the lingering glow of his attention. We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. Benjamin Rush is best known for his political activities during the American Revolution, including signing the Declaration of Independence.
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Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal led the nation through the Great Depression. Elected to four terms, his presidency helped ensure victory in World War II. Benjamin Harrison is best known as the 23rd president of the United States. He was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison. Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, a Constitutional Convention delegate, author of the Federalist papers and the first secretary of the U. Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, prompting a bloody conflict over Kansas' slavery status.
Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs and writer. John Adams was a Founding Father, the first vice president of the United States and the second president. His son, John Quincy Adams, was the nation's sixth president. Benjamin Franklin is best known as one of the Founding Fathers who never served as president but was a respected inventor, publisher, scientist and diplomat. This biographical reference work represents a gateway to all of American history. It also aims to shape how we view the American nation by documenting the diversity of contributions made by a range of American citizens over time.
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