At the age of 17 Franklin ran away to Philadelphia. He lived and worked in London from 1724 to 1726 then returned to Philadelphia. By 1728 he had set up his own shop a friend. In 1730 Franklin entered into a common law marriage with Deborah Reed, took over publication of the Pennsylvania Gazette, and became the official printer of Pennsylvania. He would go on to become the official printer for Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland.
While he himself had little formal education, in 1743, he proposed an educational academy that would lead to the founding of the University of Pennsylvania. He received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, the College of William and Mary, and Oxford. He was a free mason and a member of the Royal Society.
Think he was finished? Guess again. Franklin was also active in politics. Among the political offices he held were Philadelphia postmaster, deputy postmaster for the colonies, member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, president of Pennsylvania, member of Continental Congress. Between 1765 and 1776 he was London where he served variously as Agent of Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. In late 1776, he returned to Europe. This time as minister to France. He would return home to Philadelphia in 1785. In 1787 he was the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention and served as president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
|Benjamin and Deborah Franklin Tombstone|
Franklin had three (3) children. His eldest son, William, born in 1731 was illegitimate. He had two (2) children with his wife Deborah. The eldest, a boy named Francis, was born in 1732 and died of smallpox in 1736. The youngest was a girl named Sarah born in 1743. Sadly, Franklin was forced to miss Deborah’s funeral. She died in December 1744 following a stroke; her husband was in London. Franklin died 17 April 1790. He and Deborah are buried in the Christ Church cemetery in Philadelphia.