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Happy Birthday, Ben! The Man and the Cult: Benjamin Franklin at 300.

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Presentation on theme: "Happy Birthday, Ben! The Man and the Cult: Benjamin Franklin at 300."— Presentation transcript:

1 Happy Birthday, Ben! The Man and the Cult: Benjamin Franklin at 300

2 His Life Born in Boston to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger, January 6, 1706 (old style) Attends school from : he becomes his father’s assistant in his tallow-chandlery 1718: BF is indentured to his brother James(publisher of the New England Courant) as a printing apprentice

3 His Life —BF publishes “Silence Dogood Letters” anonymously in his brother’s newspaper (modeled on Cotton Mather’s Essay Upon Doing Good) 1723—BF breaks his indenture and “escapes” to Philadelphia; his work for Samuel Keimer (printer) 1724—BF sails to London to buy type for printing press with worthless letter of recommendation from Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith

4 His Life —BF returns to Phila. and returns to work with Keimer 1727—BF founds the Junto Club (which continues until 1765) 1728—BF starts printing house with Hugh Meredith 1729—BF becomes owner and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette; he buys out Meredith in 1730 Circa 1729: he becomes father of son William (see Autobiography!) out of wedlock; identity of mother unknown

5 His Life —BF enters common law marriage with Deborah (Read) Rogers 1731—BF founds the Library Company; he sets up printing partners in South Carolina 1732—BF first child with Deborah Franklin, Francis Folger Franklin; first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack published 1736—BF becomes clerk of PA assembly and founds the Phila. Fire Company

6 His Life s—BF designs and advertises the “Pennsylvania fireplace” (aka Franklin stove) 1743—BF founds the American Philosophical Society 1745—his friend Peter Collinson in London sends BF a glass tube and descriptions of electrical experiments in Germany; BF begins his electrical experiments 1747—BF organizes a “Voluntary Association” (militia) for the defense of Pennsylvania from French and Spanish privateers 1749—BF and others organize the Philadelphia Academy (later the University of Pennsylvania)

7 His Life —Franklin begins having problems with gout; describes lightening rod in a letter to Peter Collinson; later that year, BF is severely shocked while electrocuting a turkey 1751—BF and others found Pennsylvania Hospital; BF designs first fire insurance company (becomes member of PA Assembly; til 1764) 1752—In June, BF conducts his famous kite flying experiments, proving that lightening is electrical 1753—BF appointed deputy postmaster general for North America

8 His Life —with rising fears of an attack on PA during French and Indian War, Franklin becomes more active in politics; publishes what is considered the first American political cartoon, “Join or Die:” (supporting the “Albany Plan”

9 His Life —BF appointed agent for the PA Assembly and begins long struggle with the Penn Family (PA proprietors); he later wanted to turn PA in to a Crown Colony under direct supervision of the English king BF goes to England as PA agent, where he remains until —BF defeated in election for PA Assembly; vicious attacks on BF 1769—BF becomes President of American Philosophical Society 1771—BF begins writing the Autobiography 1772—BF writes first anti-slavery treatise (after having freed his own slaves)

10 His Life —BF beginning anti-British political course 1774—BF’s wife Deborah dies of a stroke 1775—BF unsuccessfully trying to reconcile conflict with the British; he becomes a delegate to the Second Continental Congress 1776—BF’s son William (former governor of New Jersey) imprisoned as loyalist; BF refusing to intercede for him; BF travels to France to negotiate for an alliance with the colonies in Revolutionary War 1783—With John Adams and John Jay, BF signs Treaty of Paris, which formally ends the Revolutionary War 1785—BF returns to Philadelphia; greeted with great celebration

11 His Life —BF becomes president of the Supreme Executive Council (of the United States) 1787—member of the Constitutional Convention 1789—BF composed and submitted to Congress the first Congressional protest against slavery April 17, 1790—BF dies at age 84, and is buried in Christ Church burial ground (only a few feet from where he first landed in Philadelphia!)

12 The Autobiography Stages of composition: –Part 1: 1771 (in England) –Part 2: 1784 (in France) –Part 3: 1788 (in Pennsylvania) –Part 4: (in Pennsylvania) Scope: Ancestry-Birth-Upbringing in Boston- Philadelphia-London-Philadelphia (to circa 1754)

13 The Ben Franklin “Cult” Images of Benjamin Franklin during his lifetime

14 The March of the Paxton Men, 1764

15 Charles Nicholas Cochin, “Benjamin Franklin” ( ). American Philosophical Society, Portrait Collection.

16 Charles Van Loo, “Benjamin Franklin” (before 1790). American Philosophical Society, Portrait Collection.

17 Charles Willson Peale, after David Martin, “Benjamin Franklin” (1772, after portrait of 1767). American Philosophical Society, Portrait Collection.

18 Circa Benjamin West (American, ) Oil on paper on canvas, 13-1/4 x 10"

19 Anton Hohenstein (ca ?) Franklin's Reception at the Court of France, Philadelphia: John Smith, n.d. Hand-colored lithograph Prints & Photographs Division (14) Franklin's Reception at the Court of France, Prints & Photographs Division

20 The Ben Franklin “Cult” The recent vogue for Franklin biographies (to name but a few…) –Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin. New Haven: Yale University Press, –Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, –Gordon S. Wood, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. New York: Penguin, –David Waldstreicher, Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution. New York: Hill and Wang, –J. A. Leo Lemay, The Life of Benjamin Franklin. Vols. 1 and 2. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, –Stacy Schiff, A great improvisation: Franklin, France, and the birth of America. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.


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