The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

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Chief Events in Franklin's Life

[Ending, as it does, with the year 1757, the autobiography leaves important facts unrecorded. It has seemed advisable, therefore, to detail the chief events in Franklin's life, from the beginning, in the following list]:

1706: He is born, in Boston, and baptized in the Old South Church.

1714: At the age of eight, enters the Grammar School.

1716: Becomes his father's assistant in the tallow-chandlery business.

1718: Apprenticed to his brother James, printer.

1721: Writes ballads and peddles them, in printed form, in the streets; contributes, anonymously, to the "New England Courant," and temporarily edits that paper; becomes a free-thinker, and a vegetarian.

1723: Breaks his indenture and removes to Philadelphia; obtains employment in Keimer's printing-office; abandons vegetarianism.

1724: Is persuaded by Governor Keith to establish himself independently, and goes to London to buy type; works at his trade there, and publishes "Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain."

1726: Returns to Philadelphia; after serving as clerk in a dry-goods store, becomes manager of Keimer's printing-house.

1727: Founds the Junto, or "Leathern Apron" Club.

1728: With Hugh Meredith, opens a printing-office.

1729: Becomes proprietor and editor of the "Pennsylvania Gazette"; prints, anonymously, "Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency"; opens a stationer's shop.

1730: Marries Rebecca Read.

1731: Founds the Philadelphia Library.

1732: Publishes the first number of "Poor Richard's Almanac" under the pseudonym of "Richard Saunders." The Almanac, which continued for twenty-five years to contain his witty, worldly-wise sayings, played a very large part in bringing together and molding the American character which was at that time made up of so many diverse and scattered types.

1733: Begins to study French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin.

1736: Chosen clerk of the General Assembly; forms the Union Fire Company of Philadelphia.

1737: Elected to the Assembly; appointed Deputy Postmaster-General; plans a city police.

1742: Invents the open, or "Franklin," stove.

1743: Proposes a plan for an Academy, which is adopted 1749 and develops into the University of Pennsylvania.

1744: Establishes the American Philosophical Society.

1746: Publishes a pamphlet, "Plain Truth," on the necessity for disciplined defense, and forms a military company; begins electrical experiments.

1748: Sells out his printing business; is appointed on the Commission of the Peace, chosen to the Common Council, and to the Assembly.

1749: Appointed a Commissioner to trade with the Indians.

1751: Aids in founding a hospital.

1752: Experiments with a kite and discovers that lightning is an electrical discharge.

1753: Awarded the Copley medal for this discovery, and elected a member of the Royal Society; receives the degree of M.A. from Yale and Harvard. Appointed joint Postmaster-General.

1754: Appointed one of the Commissioners from Pennsylvania to the Colonial Congress at Albany; proposes a plan for the union of the colonies.

1755: Pledges his personal property in order that supplies may be raised for Braddock's army; obtains a grant from the Assembly in aid of the Crown Point expedition; carries through a bill establishing a voluntary militia; is appointed Colonel, and takes the field.

1757: Introduces a bill in the Assembly for paving the streets of Philadelphia; publishes his famous "Way to Wealth"; goes to England to plead the cause of the Assembly against the Proprietaries; remains as agent for Pennsylvania; enjoys the friendship of the scientific and literary men of the kingdom.


1760: Secures from the Privy Council, by a compromise, a decision obliging the Proprietary estates to contribute to the public revenue.

1762: Receives the degree of LL.D. from Oxford and Edinburgh; returns to America.

1763: Makes a five months' tour of the northern colonies for the purpose of inspecting the post-offices.

1764: Defeated by the Penn faction for reelection to the Assembly; sent to England as agent for Pennsylvania.

1765: Endeavors to prevent the passage of the Stamp Act.

1766: Examined before the House of Commons relative to the passage of the Stamp Act; appointed agent of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia; visits Göttingen University.

1767: Travels in France and is presented at court.

1769: Procures a telescope for Harvard College.

1772: Elected Associé Etranger of the French Academy.

1774: Dismissed from the office of Postmaster-General; influences Thomas Paine to emigrate to America.

1775: Returns to America; chosen a delegate to the Second Continental Congress; placed on the committee of secret correspondence; appointed one of the commissioners to secure the cooperation of Canada.

1776: Placed on the committee to draft a Declaration of Independence; chosen president of the Constitutional Committee of Pennsylvania; sent to France as agent of the colonies.

1778: Concludes treaties of defensive alliance, and of amity and commerce; is received at court.

1779: Appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France.

1780: Appoints Paul Jones commander of the "Alliance."

1782: Signs the preliminary articles of peace.

1783: Signs the definite treaty of peace.

1785: Returns to America; is chosen President of Pennsylvania; reelected 1786.

1787: Reelected President; sent as delegate to the convention for framing a Federal Constitution.

1788: Retires from public life.

1790: April 17, dies. His grave is in the churchyard at Fifth and Arch Streets, Philadelphia.

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