Born in 1706, the youngest son of a candle maker, Benjamin Franklin was an inventor, a statesman, a writer, a printer, and a beloved husband and father. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral.
- As a child, Benjamin Franklin lived in a little house on Milk Street in Boston. He had sixteen brothers and sisters! His parents taught him to work hard, learn a trade, and be honest and good.
- Benjamin was the youngest son. He was bright, funny, and energetic. One time, he got some pennies as a gift. He ran to the toy shop and bought a whistle. He ran through the house blowing it loudly until his sisters made fun of him for spending money on a worthless toy. After that, Benjamin was very careful with his money.
- Benjamin liked to swim in the sea and watch the boats. Once he tied his kite around his waist and went swimming. The kite pulled him along through the water.
- He was always inventing things and creating games for his friends.
- Benjamin went to school when he was eight. He was very good at reading and writing, but he didn’t like math. He left school to become a candle maker when he was ten, but he hated it.
- Instead, he became an apprentice in his brother’s printing shop. James was very strict. Benjamin worked hard and learned quickly. He spent most of the money he earned on books and read them whenever he had a free moment.
- Benjamin wanted to be a writer. He started writing letters to a local newspaper, pretending to be a widow woman. The newspaper readers enjoyed the letters, but when James found out, he gave Benjamin a beating.
- At seventeen, Benjamin ran away to New York, but could find no work. He went to Philadelphia and found a job with a printer. In Philadelphia, he was no longer the younger brother. People liked and respected him, including the governor of Philadelphia.
- Eventually he got his own printing shop. He married Deborah Read, and they had a comfortable, if humble, house. He began printing pamphlets, a newspaper, and a calendar called Poor Richard’s Almanac, which was full of useful advice, wise sayings, and funny puns.
- Benjamin started a library and a school, which later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized a hospital for the poor and a fire department. He became postmaster of Philadelphia, and then of all the American colonies.
- Benjamin was constantly thinking about how to make things simpler and more efficient. He invented an iron stove, the Franklin Stove, which was famous in America and Europe. He spent six years studying electricity and invented the first lightning rods.
- He was sent to England to talk to the king about taxes. For ten long years, he tried to encourage both sides to find peace. Finally, he returned home, unsuccessful. His wife had died in America and he was old and tired. Fighting had started in America. He, along with several others, worked with Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence.
- Then he was sent to France to persuade the French government to help the colonists. The French people loved Benjamin Franklin, and finally agreed to send soldiers, money, and weapons. After nine years, Benjamin Franklin sailed home.
Watch a video about Benjamin Franklin.