Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Page 9

Benjamin Franklin


This was a period in his life of which he often spoke with peculiar pleasure. "I am now," said he, "in the bosom of my family, and find four new little prattlers, who cling about the knees of their grandpapa, and afford me great pleasure. I am surrounded by my friends, and have an affectionate good daughter and son-in-law to take care of me. I have got into my niche, a very good house, which I built twenty-four years ago, and out of which I have been ever since kept by foreign employments."

The domestic tranquillity in which he now found himself, he was not permitted long to enjoy, being appointed president of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an office which he held for three years, and the duties of which he discharged very acceptably to his constituents. Of the federal convention of 1787, for organizing the constitution of the United States, he was elected a delegate, and in the intricate discussions which arose on different parts of that instrument, he bore a distinguished part.

In 1788, he withdrew from public life, his great age rendering retirement desirable, and the infirmities of his body unfitting him for the burdens of public office. On the 17th of April, 1790, in the eighty-fourth year of his age, he expired, in the city of Philadelphia. He was interred on the 21st of April. Congress directed a general mourning for him, throughout the United States, for the space of a month. The national assembly of France testified their sense of the loss which the world sustained, by decreeing that each member should wear mourning for three days. This was an honor perhaps never before paid by the national assembly of one country, to a citizen of another. Dr. Franklin lies buried in the northwest corner of Christ Church yard, in Philadelphia. In his will he directed that no monumental ornaments should be placed upon his tomb. A small marble slab only, therefore, and that, too, on a level with the surface of the earth, bearing the name of himself and wife, and the year of his death, marks the spot in the yard where he lies.

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