Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the youngest child, and tenth boy of 17 children. Franklin was one of the leading founding fathers of the United States of America. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence and was one of its signatories. He also signed the Constitution of the United States, and served as the new nation’s ablest diplomat.
Franklin’s formal schooling ended early but his education never did. He believed that “the doors to wisdom are never shut,” and read every book he could get his hands on. Franklin taught himself simple algebra and geometry, navigation, logic, history, science, English grammar and a working knowledge of five other languages.
Franklin had a simple formula for success. He believed that successful people worked just a little harder than other people. Benjamin Franklin certainly did. He built a successful printing and publishing business in Philadelphia; he conducted scientific studies of electricity and made several important discoveries; he was an accomplished diplomat and statesman; he helped establish Pennsylvania’s first university and America’s first city hospital. He also organized the country’s first subscription library.
Franklin was also unequaled in America as an inventor until Thomas Edison. He invented the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses and the lightning rod. Franklin wasn’t greedy about his inventions, preferring to have them used freely for the comfort and convenience of everyone. Thomas Jefferson called Benjamin Franklin “the greatest man and ornament of the age and country in which he lived.”
Franklin had a strong belief that good citizenship included an obligation of public service. Franklin himself served the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the new United States of America, in one way or the other, for most of his life. To Benjamin Franklin there was no greater purpose in life than to “live usefully.”
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The Autobiography and Other Writings
by Benjamin Franklin
A wide-ranging selection of his writings from Poor Richard's Almanac, scientific essays, and political commentaries, plus a generous dose of his famous humor.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
Isaacson relates in this fluent and entertaining biography, the revolutionary leader who represents a political tradition that has been all but forgotten today, one that prizes pragmatism over moralism, religious tolerance over fundamentalist rigidity, and social mobility over class privilege.
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
by H. W. Brands
Franklin's numerous and varied accomplishments leap to life in this altogether excellent biography. A well-written and engaging account of a life well lived.
Benjamin Franklin and His Enemies
by Robert Middlekauff
Robert Middlekauff weaves episodes in Franklin's life into key moments in colonial and Revolutionary history. His purpose is neither to vilify nor to defend, but rather to reveal a fully human Benjamin Franklin.
The Devious Dr. Franklin, Colonial Agent: Benjamin Franklin's Years in London
by David T. Morgan
Benjamin Franklin served in London as a agent for the Pennsylvania Assembly, and later as agent for the colonies of Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. This book chronicles Franklin's years in London serving as colonial agent.
Ben Franklin (2004)
This History Channel DVD reveals the real man behind the myth. A fresh, down-to-earth, informative look at Ben Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World (2004)
A&E's video biography of founding father and American icon, Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin (2002)
This documentary explores Franklin's education as a minister, his career as a printer, his transformation into a revolutionary, and his role as America's first diplomat to France.
Founding Brothers (2002)
An analysis of the intertwined careers of the founders of the American republic including John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.
An American Life
Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, discusses his book, “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.”
Professor Philip Krider of University of Arizona discusses Franklin’s scientific accomplishments.
The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin: An Extraordinary Life. An Electric Mind
Companion website to the PBS documentary
A Documentary History
By J.A. Leo Lemay - A well done retrospective of Franklin's life
BEN AND VERSE
Meet The "Proverbial" Franklin. Utility, A Light Touch and Soundness
Information about the "Glass Harmonica" invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761