A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Benjamin Franklin

17 January 1706 - 17 April 1790

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston to Josiah and Abiah Folger Franklin. He entered the printing business at age 12 as an apprentice in the shop of his brother, James. In 1723, he moved to Philadelphia, where he eventually opened his own print shop and published the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin's career in public service began in 1736 when he was appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania State Assembly. He was elected to the Assembly in 1751 and represented the state at the unsuccessful Albany Congress in 1754, where he advocated his "Plan of Union." Franklin traveled to England in 1757 to represent the Assembly in a conflict with the proprietors, and a few years later he lobbied before Parliament against the Stamp Act. He returned to America in 1775 and served on the Second Continental Congress and the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Franklin returned to Europe in 1777 to secure French financial and military aid for the colonists and in 1783 to negotiate the Treaty of Paris. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 before dying in Philadelphia on 17 April 1790.