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Norris, Benjamin Franklin (Frank)

Born: 1706 AD
Died: 1790 AD, at 84 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Diplomat, Inventor, Journalist


1706 - American diplomat, statesman and scientist, born on the 17th of January, in a house in Milk Street, opposite the Old South Church, Boston, Massachusetts. He was the tenth son of Josiah Franklin, and the eighth child and youngest son of ten children borne by Abiah Folger, his father's second wife. The elder Franklin was born at Ecton in Northamptonshire, England, where the strongly Protestant Franklin family may be traced back for nearly four centuries.



1721 - started the New England Courant, one of the earliest newspapers in America.



1723 - He moved to Philadelphia, where he founded the Pennsylvania Gazette.



1728 - Franklin and Hugh Meredith, a fellow worker at Keimer's, set up in business for themselves; the capital being furnished by Meredith's father. In 1730 the partnership was dissolved, and Franklin, through the financial assistance of two friends, secured the sole management of the printing house.



1730 - Married Deborah Reed Rogers, they had 3 children. 



1733-58 - Printer and publisher of Poor Richard's Almanack.



1752 - His famous Kite and key in a thunderstorm history, On a dark June afternoon in Philadelphia, the 46 year-old Ben Franklin decided to fly a kite. With the help of his son, William, they attached his kite to a silk string, tying an iron key at the other end. Next, they tied a thin metal wire from the key and inserted the wire into a Leyden jar, a container for storing an electrical charge. Finally, as the sky darkened and a thunderstorm approached, they attached a silk ribbon to the key. Holding onto the kite by the silk ribbon, Ben flew the kite and once it was aloft, he retreated into a barn so that he would not get wet. The thunder storm cloud passed over Franklin's kite, whereupon the negative charges in the cloud passed onto his kite, down the wet silk string, to the key, and into the jar. Ben however, was unaffected by the negative charges because he was holding the dry silk ribbon, insulating him from the charges on the key. When he moved his free hand near the iron key, he received a shock. Why? Because the negative charges in the key were so strongly attracted to the positive charges in his body, a spark jumped from the key to his hand.



1730s-1750s,  He became prosperous and promoted public services in Philadelphia, including a library, a fire department, a hospital, an insurance company, and an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania. His inventions include the Franklin stove and bifocal spectacles, and his experiments helped pioneer the understanding of electricity. He served as a member of the colonial legislature.

        - He played the harp, guitar and glass dulcimer, and invented an improved form of Musical glasses or armonica'. He also wrote a treatise on music aesthetics.



1751 - His election To the Pennsylvania Assembly began nearly 40 years as a public official. He used his influence at first mainly to further the cause of his various civic enterprises. But he also became a leader in the long-dominant Quaker party, opposing the Proprietary party, which sought to preserve the power of the Penn family in affairs of Pennsylvania. Franklin devised legislative strategy and wrote powerful resolves on behalf of the Assembly, denying Proprietary exemption from taxation and otherwise defending the right of the elected representatives of the people to regulate their own affairs.



1757 to 1762 - Franklin lived in England, seeking aid in restraining Proprietary power in Pennsylvania, meanwhile enjoying English social and intellectual life.




1762-1764 - Franklin traveled through the Colonies as deputy postmaster general for North America. In 20 years Franklin vastly improved postal service and at the same time made his position lucrative.



1776 -  He was a member of the committee of five appointed to draw up the Declaration of Independence.



1775 - 1776 - Franklin played a central role in the great crises that led to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.He first advised obedience to the Stamp Act. But learning of the violent protest against it in America, he stiffened his own opposition, notably in a dramatic appearance before Parliament in 1766, when he outlined, plainly and bluntly, American insistence on substantial self-government. Encouraged by repeal of the act, Franklin again expressed his faith in the grand prospects for America within the empire and worked with Pitt, Lord Camden, and other Englishmen who wanted to liberalize both government at home and relations with the Colonies.



1777 - Franklin worked behind the scenes to hasten war supplies across the Atlantic, block British diplomacy, and ingratiate himself with the French foreign minister and others who might help the United States. He also worked with the other American commissioners, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee, as those two strange compatriots quarreled with increasing bitterness. In December 1777 news of the American victory at Saratoga persuaded Louis XVI and his ministers to enter into an alliance with the United States, finally signed by Franklin and the other commissioners. Lee and Deane soon returned, quarreling, to America, leaving Franklin behind as the first American minister to the court of Versailles. For 7 years Franklin was the premier American representative in Europe, conducting normal diplomacy and acting as purchasing agent, recruiting officer, loan negotiator, admiralty court, and intelligence chief. Nearly 80, Franklin carried his immense and varied burden effectively and in a way that retained French goodwill. He helped get French armies and navies on their way to North America, continued his efforts to supply American armies, outfitted John Paul Jones and numerous American privateers, and secured virtually all the outside aid that came to the American rebels.



1782 - 1785 - Viewing America's place in the world as his mission to France drew to a close, Franklin combined realism with idealism. "Our firm connection with France," he noted, "gives us weight with England, and respect throughout Europe." Thus balancing between the great nations, Franklin thought "a few years of peace will improve, will restore and increase our strength; but our future safety will depend on our union and our virtue." He stated many times there was "no such thing as a good war or a bad peace." Not the least isolationist or aggressive, he thought the peaceful needs of the United States required it to trade and cooperate honorably with nations all over the world.



1787 - 1790 - Franklin's most notable service, however, was his attendance at the daily sessions of the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787. Too infirm to speak much in debate and less creative in political philosophy than some of his younger colleagues, he bolstered the confidence of the convention and, through good humor and suggestions for compromise, helped prevent its disruption in animosity. He gave decisive support to the "Great Compromise" over representation and dozens of times calmed volatile tempers and frayed nerves. At the convention's close, he asked each member, who like himself might not entirely approve of the Constitution, to "doubt a little of his own infallibility" and sign the document to give it a chance as the best frame of government human ingenuity could at that time produce. His last public service was to urge ratification of the Constitution and to approve the inauguration of the new government under his longtime friend George Washington. Franklin died peacefully on April 17, 1790.


1929 -   Still in ciculation, Portrait on American currency $100.


1948 - 1963 - He was on the U.S. half dollar.


2003 - Appears on the cover of "Time" Magazine.





Page last updated: 1:48pm, 06th May '13