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Benjamin Franklin

1706 January 17. Born in Boston, the youngest son of Josiah and Abiah (Folger) Franklin. (January 6, 1705 by "Old Style" reckoning).

1715 Final formal year of schooling
Heard Increase Mather preach

1717 Begins reading Plutarch, Defoe, and Cotton Mather
Invents a pair of swim fins for his hands
Briefly indentured as a cutler

1718 Apprenticed to his brother James, a printer.
Blackbeard the Pirate is captured; Franklin writes a ballad on the occasion

1720 Moved away from home into a boarding house
Stopped attending church so he could use Sunday to study
At a Boston town meeting, Ben's father Josiah is chosen as a town scavenger for 1721

1721 Brother James Franklin starts publishing The New England Courant
Smallpox epidemic in Boston and controversy over vaccination
Becomes "a thorough Deist"

1722 Becomes a vegetarian (in part he is motivated by a distaste for flesh, but also because he can save money and buy more books)

1723 Takes over the publishing of the Courant after brother James is jailed due to "contempt" charges.
(Sept.) Runs away from apprenticeship, goes to New York and then to Philadelphia, where he gains employment as a printer.
Takes lodging with John Read whose daughter Deborah will become Franklin's wife in 1730

1724 Returns home to Boston to try and borrow money from his father to start print shop. Is denied.
Returns to Philadelphia and courts Deborah Read.
Under encouragement from PA Governor William Keith travels to London in order buy printing equipment. Keith's letters of credit for him never materialized and Franklin is stranded in London. Remains in London working as a printer working for Samuel Palmer.

1725 Publishes his first pamphlet: "A Dissertation upon Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain"
Leaves Palmer the printer for the larger shop of John Watts.
Attends theater, reads voraciously, and hangs out at coffee houses
Back in Pennsylvania, Deborah Read marries John Rogers in August

1726 In July, returns to Philadelphia and works for Thomas Denham, a merchant who had loaned him the money to return home. Franklin works as a bookkeeper and shopkeeper in a store which sells imported clothes and hardware.

1727 Suffers first pleurisy attack
Leaves job with Denham
Is rehired by printer Keimer
It is in 1727 or 1728 that Franklin has an affair with a woman that results in the birth of his illegitimate son William in 1728 or 1729
In England, George I dies and is succeeded by George II
In early October quits Keimer after quarreling only to be rehired later in the month — Keimer can find no one to cut currency like Franklin.
Helps to establish the Junto, a a society of young men who met together on Friday evenings for "self-improvement, study, mutual aid, and conviviality."

1728 In June, establishes a Philadelphia printing partnership with Hugh Meredith; rents a building that serves as home and printshop
Composes "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion"
Deborah Read's husband John Rogers steals a slave and absconds from Philadelphia

1729 Writes a pamphlet entitled "The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency"
Purchases The Pennsylvania Gazette from Samuel Keimer

1730 Elected the official printer for Pennsylvania
Takes a common law wife Deborah Read Rogers on 9/1
Franklin buys out his printing partner Hugh Meredith
Fire destroys the southern part of Philadelphia and Franklin starts agitating for fire protection programs

1731 Joins the St. Johns Freemasons Lodge
Drew up the Library Company's articles of association on July 1st. The Library Company is the first lending library in the country, though it is still private.
Sponsored his journeyman Thomas Whitmarsh as his printing partner in South Carolina, Franklin buys the printing press and types in return for 1/3 of the profits over a six-year term — in effect becoming a printing franchiser.
Franklin rents commercial space to his mother-in-law who sells "her well-known Ointment for the ITCH," a "Family Salve or Ointment, for Burns or Scalds."
Prints an article in the Gazette on the imminent passage of the "mortifying" Molasses Act

1732 Birth of his son Francis Folger.
In May, Franklin started printing America's first German-language newspaper, Philadelphische Zeitung, which soon failed.
Publishes the first edition of "Poor Richard's Almanack" on December 28

1733 Francis Folger Franklin is baptized at the Anglican Christ Church. Deborah attends this church, while Benjamin had stopped attending a Presbyterian church the year before.

1734 Is elected Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Masons of PA
Buy property on Philadelphia's Market Street. Eventually he will put together several lots of land on Market Street. These will house his print shop and retail space. Today, this property forms Franklin Court.
Bribes post riders to carry his PA Gazette. Postmaster Andrew Bradford had forbidden riders to carry the Gazette.

1735 Brother James Franklin dies; Benjamin sends his widow 500 copies of Poor Richard for free so she can make money by selling them
Andrew (the Philadelphia Lawyer) Hamilton defends John Peter Zenger in a seminal Freedom of the Press case. Hamilton will be a patron of Franklin's

1736 Named Clerk of the PA Assembly
Prints currency for NJ
Son Francis (Franky) Folger dies at age 4 of smallpox
Organized the Union Fire Company (Franklin regularly attends meetings of the Library Company, the Masonic Lodge, the Junto, and now the Fire Company)
Prints "A Treaty of Friendship held with the Chiefs of the Six Nations at Philadelphia"
First public use of the PA State House (Independence Hall, which was designed by Andrew Hamilton)

1737 Appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia

1739 Franklin's house robbed
George Whitefield, the Great Awakening preacher, arrives in Philadelphia for the first time
Leads an environmental protest against polluting "Slaughter-Houses, Tan-Yards, Skinner Lime-Pits, &c. erected on the publick Dock, and Streets, adjacent"

1740 Official printer for New Jersey
George Whitefield preaches to enthusiastic crowds numbering in the thousands; buys 5,000 acres on which he intends to build a school for African-Americans. School not built. Franklin prints much material for Whitefield.

1741 Advertises the "Franklin Stove"
Published the first edition of "The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle," one of America's earliest magazines. It failed after six issues.

1742 Franklin organized and publicized a project to sponsor plant collecting trips by renowned Philadelphia botanist John Bartram.

1743 Attends Archibald Spencer's Boston lectures on natural philosophy (including electricity)
Comes out with "A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge" (the founding document of the prototype of the American Philosophical Society)
Daughter Sally born and baptized at Christ Church

1744 The American Philosophical Society begins meeting

1745 Death of Josiah Franklin, Benjamin's father

1746 Begins extensive electrical experiments

1747 Franklin writes "The Plain Truth," a pamphlet arguing for better military preparedness in PA. In the pamphlet is the first political cartoon published in America.
Peter Collinson of London sends Franklin an electric tube. "For my own part, I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and my time as this has lately done.

1748 Becomes a soldier in the PA militia after turning down a commission as a Colonel citing military inexperience.

1749 Franklin presents his vision for educataion in a pamphlet titled "Publick Academy of Philadelphia." His initiatives and vision would lead to the founding of the University of Pennsylvania.

1751 Letters on electricity published in London by Peter Collinson

1752 Conducts kite experiment
Received Copley Medal of the royal Society of London for research in electricity. Deputy Postmaster General of N.A.
Wrote a plan for a union of the colonies for security and defense.

1752 Helps found the Philadelphia Contributionship for Insuring of Houses from Loss Against Fire

1753 Received honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale.
Appointed joint Deputy Postmaster General of North America.

1754 Proposes plan of colonial union at Albany Congress

1757-62 In England as agent for Pennsylvania Assembly, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Jersey

1759 Receives honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland

1762 Mapped Postal routes in the colonies. Invents glass armonica

1764-65 Charts Gulf Stream.

1766 Examined in House of Commons in support of repeal of the Stamp Act

1768 Named Colonial Agent for Georgia.

1769 Named Colonial Agent for New Jersey.

1770 Elected Colonial Agent for Massachusetts.

1771 Tours Ireland.

1771-72 Begins writing his Autobiography.

1774 Dressed down before London's Privy Council by Solicitor General Wedderburn for leaking letters in the "Hutchinson Affair."
Deborah Read, his wife of 44 years, dies in Philadelphia

1775 Elected as a Pennsylvania delegate of Pennsylvania to 2nd Continental Congress; serves as chairman of Pennsylvania Committee of Safety
Elected Postmaster General of the Colonies

1776 Presides over Constitutional Convention of PA.
Serves on a committee of five who draft the Declaration of Independence.
Arrives in Paris on 12/21 as one of the Commissioners of Congress to the French Court

1777 Meets Madame Brillon, an amour.

1778 Signs French Alliance

1779-81 Appointed to negotiate peace treaty with England.

1780 Madame Helvetius rejects Franklin's offer of marriage.

1783-84 Signed Peace Treaty
Invented bifocals

1785-86 Elected President of Pennsylvania Executive Council
Invents the instrument for taking down books from a shelf

1787 Signs the United States Constitution

1789 Writes anti-slavery treatise
He becomes president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery

1790 April 17, dies in Philadelphia at the age of 84. 20,000 mourners attend his funeral at Philadelphia's Christ Church Burial Ground.