Benjamin Franklin

Printer, scientist, inventor, activist, and diplomat.
AKA
The First American in England
"The Water-American"
"The First American"
Born
1706
Died
1790
Portrait Year
1778
Portrait Age
72

Benjamin Franklin, son of a poor candle and soap maker, became an accomplished statesman, diplomat, writer, scientist and philosopher. He rallied French support for the nation and was key architect of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He also helped to guide the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war between England and the new United States.

Ben Franklin's inventions, like the lightning rod and the aphorisms he penned for Poor Richard’s Almanac have become fixtures of American culture. 

Ben Franklin represented the Pennsylvania colonists before Parliament in London in 1757, and remained several years in England.  He was back in 1764 and would protest the Stamp Tax on the colonies. He found that many in the English government thought the policies then being carried out would lead to disaster. Those concerned included the King's brother and the powerful Lord Chatham. Franklin had not fully realized the ground swell against the crown policy.

He would remain in England until 1775. When he found his efforts to change these policies were failing, he returned to America and was elected to the Continental Congress.

In 1767 Benjamin Franklin visited France and fell in love with the country. By the time Congress appointed him the U.S. Minister to France in 1775, his reputation had made him famous. He was loved by everyone from the count at Versailles to the peasants who had heard of him. 

His goal was to gain French recognition of the fledgling United States. Franklin used all the wiles at his command.  An American defeat of the British in an important battle was the turning point and Franklin adjusted the facts so as to convince France to give her full support.  In February 1778 France recognized the United States of America!  Later he participated in the Treaty of Paris.