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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

Franklin, Benjamin. A celebrated American philosopher, statesman, and didactic writer; born in Boston, Jan. 17, 1706; died in Philadelphia, April 17, 1790. Bred a printer from early boyhood, he was a hard student, and a wide reader. He early contributed political articles to the local press. Removing to Philadelphia, he established a printing business and founded the Pennsylvania Gazette. He was a promoter of every enterprise for the public good. His talent for invention and practical scientific research soon made itself felt. In 1752 he made his memorable discovery of the electrical nature of thunderstorms. He issued the first Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732, to supplant the current almanacs—full of worthless astrological predictions and stupid jests—with maxims of thrift and homely practical philosophy. As Deputy Postmaster-General he organized a paying postal system for the colonies. He was twice agent of Pennsylvania at London to procure redress of grievances; he passed several years abroad in public service before the Revolution, returning to Philadelphia in 1775. Thenceforward, both at home and especially as agent and diplomat in foreign countries, his life was devoted to his country’s interests. He wrote his ‘Autobiography,’ reaching down to the year 1757; it has been edited by John Bigelow, and published in 3 vols. (3d ed. 1893). His ‘Works’ (10 vols., 1887–89) contain also his fugitive pieces—many of them classics for style and matter, and furnishing some proverbial sayings—and his correspondence. (See Critical and Biographical Introduction).