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Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Timeline: 1706-1741


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 to 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
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
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
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.

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