Benjamin Franklin is revered as the truly distinguished American for his way of living. Assiduous, industrious, ingenious, opinionated, involved, entrepreneurial, intelligent, inquisitive, patriotic, and he lived to be old. He was a printer, a politician, an author, writer, and journalist. He was an inventor, a thinker, and a doer. He was an honest and righteous man who zealously wanted these colonies to be free, self-determining, flourishing, and protected.
He was one of the founders of the United States. America was very privileged to have this right man at the right time. He was well loved as a diplomat and he was a manufacturer of ink. This one man could have filled the lives of ten men with achievements and honors. Lastly, he was most mercifully and humanly flawed.
1706 … Born in Boston on January 17 (Jan. 6, 1705, Old Style). One of seventeen children born to his father, Josiah Franklin,and ten to his mother, Abiah Folger.
1714 … Attends Boston Latin School.
1718 … Apprenticed to brother James Franklin, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade.
1722 … Writes Silence Dogood essays in the New-England Courant, his brother James’s newspaper.
1723 … Runs away to Philadelphia.
1724 … Moves to London with the intention to acquire equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia.
1725 … Wrote pamphlet “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” and, in it, rejected Christian dogma. Later regarded this pamphlet as an embarrassment.
1726 … Returns to Philadelphia.
1728 … Opens his own print shop.
1729 … Writes the “Busy-Body” series essays. Buys Pennsylvania Gazette.
1730 … Enters common-law marriage with Deborah Read. Son William born.
1731 … Founds Library Company of Philadelphia.
1732 … Son Francis born. Launches Poor Richard’s Almanac.
1733 … Moral Perfection Project that consists of twelve guidelines to help make himself morally perfect
1735 … Controversy over preacher Samuel Hemphill.
1736 … Clerk of Pennsylvania Assembly. Son Francis dies. Forms Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America.
1737 … Made Philadelphia postmaster.
1741 … Launches General Magazine, which fails. Designs Franklin stove.
1743 … Daughter Sarah (“Sally”) born. Launches American Philosophical Society.
1745 … Collinson sends electricity pamphlets and glass tube.
1747 … Writes “Plain Truth.” Organizes militia.
1748 … Retires from printing business.
1749 … Writes proposal for the Academy (University of Pennsylvania).
1751 … Electricity writings published in London. Elected to Pennsylvania Assembly.
1752 … Kite and lightning experiment.
1753 … Becomes joint postmaster for America.
1757 … Leaves for London as agent. Writes “Way to Wealth” and last Poor Richard’s Almanac. Moves in with Mrs. Stevenson on Craven Street in London.
1758 … Visits Ecton to research ancestry with son William.
1761 … Travels to Flanders and Holland with son William.
1762 … Returns to Philadelphia. Son William made royal governor of N.J., marries.
1763 … Postal inspection trip from Virginia to New England. French and Indian War ends.
1764 … Paxton Boys crisis. Defeated in bitter Assembly election. Returns to London as agent.
1765 … Stamp Act passes.
1766 … Testifies in Parliament against Stamp Act, which is repealed.
1767 … Townshend duties imposed. Travels to France.
1768 … Wages press crusade in London on behalf of the colonies.
1769 … Second visit to France.
1770 … Townshend duties repealed except on tea. Made agent for Massachusetts.
1771 … Begins Autobiography. Visits Ireland and Scotland.
1773 … Writes parodies “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Smaller One” and “Edict of the King of Prussia.” Boston Tea Party.
1775 … Returns to Philadelphia. Battles of Lexington and Concord. Elected to Second Continental Congress. Proposes first Articles of Confederation.
1776 … William removed as royal governor, imprisoned in Connecticut. Declaration of Independence. Goes to France with Temple and Benny.
1777 … Settles in Passy, feted throughout Paris.
1778 … Treaties of alliance and commerce with France.
1779 … Salons of Madames Brillon and Helvetius. John Paul Jones’s Bonhomme Richard defeats the Serapis.
1781 … Appointed (with Adams and others) to negotiate, in Paris, peace with Britain.
1785 … Last meeting with son William. Returns to Philadelphia.
1787 … Constitutional Convention. Elected president of Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
1790 … Dies on April 17 at age 84.
For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.