Who was Benjamin Franklin?
Benjamin Franklin is most remembered today as a member of the founding generation of the United States. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at a young age and rose to prominence as a printer, a trade he had picked up from his older brother in Boston. He became an influential figure in Philadelphia society, starting the Junto, a group devoted to discussing practical philosophy that would eventually become the American Philosophical Society. He published newspapers, books, and other materials, many of which, like the famous "Poor Richard's Almanack," he composed himself. He emerged as a leading politician in the city, representing the colony for many years as a colonial agent in Great Britain. At the time, he was most famous as a scientist--his experiments in electricity in particular made him a celebrity in Europe. In the imperial crisis that broke out between Great Britain and the North American colonies, Franklin was initially a moderate, but over time, especially after being insulted in front of Parliament by one of King George's ministers, he became committed to American independence. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and he served the revolutionaries in France, helping to negotiate French military intervention in the war for independence. The last major public act of his life was to sign the U.S. Constitution. Franklin was thus present, and an active participant in, almost every significant event in the founding of the United States.