Revised: July 10, 2016

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“He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.”
Benjamin Franklin
Statesman and Inventor, 1706 - 1790

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.”

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Benjamin Franklin or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Franklin

The Autobiography and Other Writings 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.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Autobiography and Other Writings

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life 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.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

The First American 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.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The First American

Benjamin Franklin and His Enemies 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.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Benjamin Franklin and His Enemies

The Devious Dr. Franklin, Colonial Agent 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.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Devious Dr. Franklin, Colonial Agent

DVDs About Franklin

Ben Franklin Ben Franklin (2004)
This History Channel DVD reveals the real man behind the myth. A fresh, down-to-earth, informative look at Ben Franklin.

Purchase this DVD edition of Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World (2004)
A&E's video biography of founding father and American icon, Benjamin Franklin.

Purchase this DVD edition of Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World

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.

Purchase this DVD edition of Benjamin Franklin

Founding Brothers 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.

Purchase this DVD edition of Founding Brothers

Franklin Online Videos

An Introduction to Ben Franklin

An American Life
Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, discusses his book, “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.”

Franklin's Science
Professor Philip Krider of University of Arizona discusses Franklin’s scientific accomplishments.

Franklin eTexts

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Related Websites

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
Yale University

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

Meet The "Proverbial" Franklin. Utility, A Light Touch and Soundness

The Franklin Institute Science Museum

The Armonica
Information about the "Glass Harmonica" invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761

Benjamin Franklin

Other U.S. Founding Fathers in the Lucidcafé Library

Other Inventors in the Lucidcafé Library

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