Born in Boston in 1706, Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah Franklin, a chandler and soap maker. At a young age Franklin was apprenticed to his older brother James, who was a printer. James started The New England Courant, the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies (other papers just re-printed news from London). Wanting to write for the paper but knowing that James wouldn't let him, young Franklin contributed for the paper under the pseudonym "Silence Dogood."
In 1723 Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship and went to Philadelphia. He was hired by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith to go to London to secure printing equipment. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Franklin purchased The Pennsylvania Gazette and was finally able to go into the printing business for himself. He began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733; many of the aphorisms associated with Franklin come from the Almanack.
Franklin became involved in politics in the 1750s; in 1754 at the Albany Congress in New York, he proposed a plan for unification of the American colonies. In 1757 he went to London to represent the Pennsylvania Assembly in a dispute over the colony's charter. After returning to Philadelphia for two years, he went to London again in 1764. In 1765 he was instrumental in convincing Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. In 1775 he returned to the colonies and began working for independence. In 1776 he signed the Declaration of Independence and then embarked for France. As ambassador to France, he secured the Treaty of Alliance in 1778 and helped to negotiate the Treaty of Paris at the end of the war in 1783. After returning to Philadelphia, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and a signer of the Constitution.
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