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American Writers: a journey through history is a permanent archive for educators, researchers and every one interested in the writers featured in the  C‑SPAN series.


Chapter I







Born: January 17 [Jan. 6, Old Style], 1706 - Boston, Massachusetts
Died: April 17, 1790 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Franklin ended his formal education at 10, and at 12 he was apprenticed to his brother, a printer. His first enthusiasm was for poetry, but he soon turned to prose. He achieved much of what was to become his characteristic style from imitating the writing in Joseph Addison and Richard Steele's famous periodical The Spectator.
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Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
C-SPAN's Video Library: Benjamin Franklin
Around 1729 he became the printer of paper currency for Pennsylvania and other American colonies. In 1729 he purchased the Pennsylvania Gazette, which would become generally acknowledged as among the best of the colonial newspapers, and in 1732 he founded Poor Richard's Almanack, whose proverbs and aphorisms emphasizing prudence, industry, and honesty would become part of American lore for many decades thereafter. He became prosperous and devoted much energy to promoting public services in Philadelphia, including a library, fire department, hospital, and insurance company, as well as an academy that would later become the University of Pennsylvania. In 1748 he gave up management of his publications to devote himself to science and inventing; his inventions would include the Franklin stove and bifocal spectacles, and his famous experiments in electricity led to the invention of the lightning rod.

He served 15 years in the colonial legislature (1736-51). He spent the years 1757-62 in London representing Pennsylvania in a dispute over taxation of lands held by the Penn family. In 1764 he was sent back to London, where he helped secure repeal of the Stamp Act. His initial belief in a unified colonial government under British rule gradually changed over the issue of taxation. He remained in England until 1775, when he departed in anticipation of war. Back in Philadelphia he served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, where he helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In
Works by Benjamin Franklin
Dictionary of American Literary Characters
Experiments in Electricity
The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
Poor Richard's Almanac
The Way to Wealth
Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion
Bagatelles from Passy
Cool Thoughts on The Present
Situation of Our Public Affairs
1776 he traveled to France to seek military and financial aid for the colonies. There he became a hero to the French people, the personification of the unsophisticated nobility of the New World. At the close of the Revolutionary War, he was one of the diplomats chosen to negotiate peace with Britain. As a member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, he was instrumental in achieving adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Through the years he wrote a large number of editorials, articles, pamphlets, and monographs, principally on political and scientific subjects. His celebrated Autobiography (written 1771-88) was published posthumously. Franklin is remembered as one of the most extraordinary, brilliant, and indispensable public servants in the country's history.

Web sites about Benjamin Franklin
Franklin: An Enlightened American
Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History



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