Benjamin Franklin Timeline


Michael Benton, Contributor

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A Benjamin Franklin timeline must include inventions, discoveries, political achievements and diplomatic accomplishments as he was one of the most significant polymaths among America's Founding Fathers. Franklin was involved with nearly every major decision leading to the birth of the nation and is the only man to have signed all four of the critical documents that secured American Independence. He lived an extraordinarily long life relative to contemporary standards and never gave up his active role in his community and the nation.

  • 1706Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. He is the last of Josiah's 10 sons.
  • 1717Franklin crafts his first invention, wooden flippers for accelerated swimming. Also, his formal education is given up due to lack of funds.
  • 1718Takes up an apprenticeship in the print shop of his brother James.
  • 1724After infuriating James with the Mrs. Silence Dogood letters, Benjamin leaves for New York and continues on to Philadelphia. After establishing himself in a print shop there, he is sent by the Governor of Pennsylvania to purchase printing equipment in London.
  • 1726Finally able to return to Philadelphia after being stranded in London where the Governor's letters of credit never arrive. He works off the debt of his ticket home in the shop of Thomas Denham.
  • 1728Opens his own print shop under mutual ownership with Hugh Meredith.
  • 1729Takes over The Pennsylvania Gazette and begins to turn it into a success.
  • 1730Takes Deborah Read as a common law wife. Appointed official printer of Pennsylvania. Publicly recognizes his illegitimate son William.
  • 1732Publishes the first edition of "Poor Richard's Almanack". His second son, Francis Folger Franklin, is born.
  • 1734Elected Grand Master of the local Masonic Lodge.
  • 1736Francis dies of smallpox. Benjamin Franklin establishes the Union Fire Company, the first volunteer firefighting brigade in the colonies.
  • 1737Becomes Postmaster of Philadelphia.
  • 1741Publicizes his invention of a cast-iron stove with a hollow baffle and inverted flue to draw smoke out of the house. The Franklin Stove does not catch on.
  • 1752Conducts the famous kite experiment in which he proves that lightning is indeed electric.
  • 1753Parliament appoints Franklin the joint Deputy Postmaster-General of North America.
  • 1757Leaves for England to represent Pennsylvania in diplomatic issues.
  • 1762Uses his invention of the odometer to map the most efficient routes for mail in the colonies. Also, Franklin invents the glass 'armonica' which becomes popular in Europe.
  • 1766Persuades Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act.
  • 1771Visits Ireland and witnesses the brutality of British rule. Starts the writing of his autobiography.
  • 1774After the Hutchinson Affair, Franklin loses his position in London. Deborah Read dies before his return home.
  • 1775Returns to Philadelphia and is appointed as a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Second Continental Congress held in Philadelphia. Becomes first Postmaster of the United States Post Office.
  • 1776Advises Jefferson on the drafting of the Declaration of Independence as part of the Committee of Five. Leaves for diplomatic mission in France.
  • 1778Secures the support of the French through the Treaty of Alliance.
  • 1783Successfully negotiates the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War.
  • 1785Becomes President (modern equivalent
  • 1787Participates in the Constitutional Convention and is the oldest man to sign the U.S. Constitution.
  • 1789Becomes President of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society and publishes numerous papers on the proper means of freeing the slaves.
  • 1790Dies at home in Philadelphia of respiratory complications. Over 20,000 people attend his funeral.