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Making Friends With Franklin
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Scientist and Statesman
Introduction - Making Connections - The Republic of Science - Scientist and Statesman
A Bifocal View - Franklin the Friend - Enduring Legacy

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the fifteenth child of an immigrant candle and soap maker. When he was twelve, he signed indentures to serve in his brotherís printing shop. At seventeen, he fled his brotherís mistreatment, which included beatings, and ended up in Philadelphia looking for printerís work. At twenty-two, he established his own printing business. While still in his twenties, he began publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette, which became the most popular newspaper in America, and Poor Richardís Almanack, which would sell more than ten thousand copies a year. At forty-two, he retired from business to ďread, study, make experiments.Ē

The retirement didnít last long. To Franklin, science was of a piece with public service, and his scientific reputation made him all the more desirable as a public servant. In 1757, the Pennsylvania Assembly chose him to represent its interests in London. He stayed for most of the next eighteen years, acting as an agent for several colonies. The day after his return to Philadelphia, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress. The next year, 1776, he helped draft the Declaration of Independence and accepted an appointment as commissioner to France. He lived in Paris until 1785, obtaining arms, funds, and the support of the French government for the American cause. In 1787, at the age of eighty-one, he served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

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A Bifocal View
 
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