Benjamin Franklin

A Brief Biography

Gabriel García Márquez

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most extraordinary men in American history. He was short of six feet and of a strong, vigorous build. He was born January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts, the fifteenth of seventeen children born to a working-class father. Though his early education was short, it was sufficient to enable him to read and to be inquisitive, and he loved reading. He had a working-class heritage, and as a young man, he had apprenticed to his brother, a printer, which in turn taught him the skills and business of the printed word, enabling him to start his own printing business in Philadelphia. Franklin, however, became a successful and prominent publisher and author, and later, one of the most important Founding Fathers of the United States.

Franklin was as influential in his scientific and inventive careers as he was in politics. He did groundbreaking work in electricity, including the famous experiment using a kite in a thunderstorm to prove that lightning is electricity. He invented the lighting rod, bifocal glasses, and the Franklin stove, which changed daily life forever. In science, he was inquisitive, and in problems, practical; hence, he epitomized the spirit of the Enlightenment in reason and ingenuity. He was bound soon to win international renown and be elected a member of the most noble scientific academies.

Along with his scientific work, Franklin was very active politically. He is also placed among the most prominent figures in the American Enlightenment and had a strong call for colonial unity. Franklin's dealings were immense, and it hugely paid off by securing French support in the American Revolution, which at that point was critical for the colonial cause to succeed. He authored part of the Declaration of Independence in the Continental Congress and sat for the negotiation leading to the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. His political maneuvering and forging of alliances were the keys to the establishment of the United States.

He could also be viewed as dedicated to civic betterment and education. He founded the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first public library system in America, and the American Philosophical Society, a sort of meeting place for intellectuals to share ideas. The University of Pennsylvania, one among the early universities in America, was also founded with the contribution of Franklin. In fact, philanthropic works and community improvement he worked in are manifested everywhere when he founded a volunteer fire department and contributed to public health work. His idea of a better society wasn't manifest only in politics and science but included the common good of his fellow citizens.

Benjamin Franklin left a profound legacy that spanned a wide and long period of time. He was an excellent scientist, politician, educator, and never tired of being in the vanguard in the struggle for social change. His autobiography, even though written later in his life, gives one a very special insight into his train of thought and life experience, thus showing at least one typical characteristic of the great minds of America. More significantly, his life's work has continued to inspire quality periods, which remind one that there has been no limit to the power of inquiry, creative talent, and unparalleled devotion towards public good. His genius and character were substantially instrumental in the founding of the United States and the shaping of American culture and values.