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Page 4

Benjamin Franklin

1706-1790

In 1730, he married the lady to whom he was engaged before his departure for England. During his absence he forgot his promises to her, and on his return to America, he found her the wife of another man. Although a woman of many virtues, she suffered from the unkindness of her husband, who, fortunately for her, lived but a short time. Not long after his death, Franklin again visited her, soon after which they were married, and for many years lived in the full enjoyment of connubial peace and harmony.

vIn 1732, he began to publish "Poor Richard's Almanac," a work which was continued for twenty-five years, and which, besides answering the purposes of a calendar, contained many excellent prudential maxims, which were of great utility to that class of the community, who by their poverty or laborious occupations, were deprived of the advantages of education. Ten thousand copies of this almanac are said to have been published every year, in America. The maxims contained in it, were from time to time republished both in Great Britain, and on the continent.

The political course of Franklin began in the year 1736, when he was appointed clerk to the general assembly of Pennsylvania; an office which he held for several years, until he was, at length, elected a representative. During the same year, he assisted in the establishment of the American Philosophical Society, and of a college, which now exists under the title of the University of Pennsylvania. In the following year he was appointed to the valuable office of post-master of Philadelphia. In 1735 he improved the police of the city, in respect to the dreadful calamity of fire, by forming a society called a fire company, to which was afterwards added an assurance office, against losses by fire.

In 1742 he published his treatise upon the improvement of chimneys, and at the same time contrived a stove, which is in extensive use at the present day.

In the French war of 1744, he proposed a plan of voluntary association for the defense of the country. This was shortly joined by ten thousand persons, who were trained to the use and exercise of arms. Franklin was chosen colonel of the Philadelphia regiment, but he refused the honor in favor of one, whom he supposed to be more competent to the discharge of its duties.

During the same year he was elected a member of the provincial assembly, in which body he soon became very popular, and was annually re-elected by his fellow-citizens for the space of ten years.

About this time, the attention of Mr. Franklin was particularly turned to philosophical subjects. In 1747, he had witnessed at Boston, some experiments on electricity, which excited his curiosity, and which he repeated on his return to Philadelphia, with great success. These experiments led to important discoveries, an account of which was transmitted to England, and attracted great attention throughout all Europe.

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Last modified January 2, 2004