"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, and he has not been forgotten. He was a prolific writer as well as a printer, scientist, inventor, statesman, philosopher, musician, and economist.
In 1791, a year after Franklin's death, his autobiography "Memoires De La Vie Privee" was published in Paris. The first English translation, "The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin....Originally Written By Himself, And Now Translated From The French," was published in London in 1793. Originally written for Franklin's son William, then the Governor of New Jersey, it is considered the greatest autobiography of Colonial America. If the brown right-hand border interferes with your view of the text, narrow your browser window so the text flows only over the yellow background.
It is not well known that Franklin spent twenty years in London, residing at 36 Craven Street. He came to England to represent the colony of America, and while there undertook many scientific experiments in his home laboratory. This house is now the only surviving Franklin home in the world. The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House are currently undertaking its renovation and the establishment of a Centre dedicated to Franklin and his ideals. Their Web site includes a biography and tales of Franklin's three extended English visits.
Created by Professor Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware as background research for a Franklin biography, this year-by-year time line of Franklin's life would fill seven volumes if published on paper. You can wander through the years on your own, discovering tidbits of interesting information along the way, or use the terrific search engine found in the Introduction.
"The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths." Ben Franklin's 1749 "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania" led to the founding of the University of Pennsylvania. In return, the University presents this brief biography with links to several of Franklin's writings. Do not miss Franklin's "Thirteen Virtues" which are as relevant today as when they were written.
There is so much excellent material in this Franklin Institute site, I could devote an entire column to it. Explore the multi-faceted Franklin by learning about his many avocations: music, science, economics, inventing, politics and diplomacy. Did you know that Franklin played the violin, harp, and guitar? His interest in music led him to build his own glass armonica, an instrument played by touching the edge of a spinning glass with a wet finger. What does an armonica sound like? Just click your mouse on the Virtual Armonica. Teachers and homeschoolers looking for related projects will find them under Enrichment Activities.