Benjamin Franklin was one of the “founding fathers” of the American nation, extremely authoritative and respected. Franklin’s authority was so high that he was the only one who signed all three fundamental documents of American statehood – the US Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Treaty of Versailles. Moreover, he took an active part in creating the Constitution, laying in it many aspects of Masonic ideology. In fact, he was the main ideologist of the young republic. And the most famous American of his time, ahead in this respect even George Washington.
Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston, in the family of a craftsman engaged in soap making and candle making. Benjamin was the 15th of 17 children, so, despite his own candle factory, his father had little money. Enough for just a couple of high school classes. Benjamin received his further education on his own. At age 12, he takes a journey as an apprentice to his older brother in a print shop. In addition to earning, this position gives him access to books. Franklin reads a lot, absorbing literature on physics, mathematics, philosophy. Then he will open a public library in Philadelphia so that others can follow his path.
The craft of the printer pleased our hero, but he did not want to stop there. Franklin tries himself as an author of newspaper articles – but secretly, signing up with a pseudonym. He discusses in his articles about virtue, the place of women in society, as well as the practical aspects of various activities. Notes are popular. At some point, a brother learns about Franklin’s secret hobby; under threat of getting on the neck, 17-year-old Benjamin literally escapes from his native Boston to Philadelphia, where he successfully finds a job in the publishing business. A gifted and hardworking young man does not go unnoticed. A few years later he was sent to “continuing education courses” in London.
In the “capital of the world” of that time, Franklin not only studies typography, but also with great zeal, gets acquainted with the cultural heritage of Western civilization. It seems quite natural that in the course of his research he becomes acquainted with the society of Masons, who are also passionate about knowing and perfecting the world. It was from the Masons that he drew a significant part of his beliefs. Moreover, in the future he himself will become a famous freemason, the Great Master.
In addition to scientific and secular studies, Franklin does not neglect the “advanced training” itself. Returning to Philadelphia, he quickly enough created his own printing house, which became one of the three main ones in the city. After a couple of years, he begins to publish the Pennsylvania Newspaper, in which he works not only as a publisher, but also as an author. He writes a lot and with great talent, so that the newspaper quickly conquers the newspaper market and becomes an authoritative publication for the entire state. With the help of this authority, Franklin promotes a wide variety of ideas in the public consciousness, from creating a fire brigade to opening a library.
At the same time, apparently yearning for the society of Freemasons, in 1728, Franklin created a discussion group, “Club of Leather Aprons.” Even the name itself hints at Freemasonry. This circle is still operating, however, since 1743, already under the name “American Philosophical Society.” By the 20th century, it will consist of a couple of hundreds of Nobel laureates.
Having formally entered the Masonic lodge of St. John in Philadelphia in 1730, four years later, Franklin became her Grand Master. Subsequently, he will also become the Venerable Master of the Paris Lodge of the Nine Sisters. At that time – the highest honor in the Masonic world.
In 1729, Franklin published an article, A Modest Study on the Nature and Need for Paper Money. In it, he gives one of the earliest definitions of value, the central concept of political economy to the present day. He compares various types of labor – for example, growing wheat and mining silver, and shows that one is not so different from the other. Indeed, if more silver is mined, and the same amount of wheat is grown, then silver will become cheaper in relation to wheat. Based on these calculations, Franklin suggests abandoning the use of metallic money in favor of paper money. He writes: “With labor, you can measure the value of silver, like all other things.” He is developing several “stamps for banknotes.”
Later, when the Second Continental Congress decides to issue paper money at the beginning of the war of independence, Franklin will fulfill the order. So to a large extent it was he who provided the economy of the newborn republic.
In 1731, Franklin founded the Philadelphia Public Library, the first in the New World. In 1740, the Philadelphia Academy, which later became the foundation of the University of Pennsylvania. Now it is one of America’s oldest and most respected educational institutions, and is part of the Ivy League.
In parallel, Franklin served as the chief postmaster of Pennsylvania, and later of all the North American colonies. Through his department passed all the letters in both directions. He copied some letters, which was not too ethical for the postal service, but greatly helped the nascent independence. Probably, there were a lot of such cases, but the most famous story is with Thomas Hutchinson, the Governor of Massachusetts and a big supporter of the collection of taxes – one must think that England did not completely leave for the old woman. In 1772, Franklin leaked his letters to his friends, which led to the resignation and departure – if not to say Hutchinson’s flight to England. However, in 1774, Franklin himself was also removed from his post, but not for long. He returned to the post of chief postmaster a couple of years later, immediately after independence.
Franklin was engaged in serious studies of electricity and its practical application. It was he who invented the lightning rod. He also has a map of the Gulf Stream (as well as its name), as well as a host of other, less well-known inventions. For his scientific work, he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor at Oxford, and was also elected an honorary member of several Academies of Sciences, including the Russian one. Recall that the formal education of our hero was limited to two classes of high school.
In 1776, after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin went to Paris to negotiate with the French to help a freshly created state – both political and financial. In 1783, he participated in the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty, recognizing the independence of the colonies. And, by the way, he got a loan, and on very comfortable conditions. In 1787, Franklin’s signature appears on the US Constitution, of which he was one of the key authors.
Benjamin Franklin passed away on April 17, 1790. More than twenty thousand people attended his funeral – with a population of Philadelphia of thirty thousand. An inscription is carved on his gravestone: “He pulled out lightning from the sky, and then scepters from tyrants.”