A Famous Journalist Signs the Declaration of Independence

Did you know …


Our oldest and most famous Signer of the Declaration of Independence was Benjamin Franklin. This well-known printer, philanthropist (generous person,) tradesman, philosopher, journalist, scientist, inventor, diplomat, and Governor of Pennsylvania was 70 when America voted for freedom.

Before the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin had lived a busy life. He learned the printer’s trade and started a newspaper called the Pennsylvania Gazette, a leading newspaper, where he worked as writer and printer. His wife Debby helped with his printing business, and he became America’s largest bookseller.

He and his son, William, flew a kite during a storm in June of 1752. When lightning struck the kite, the current traveled down the string to a key, creating a spark. He proved that lightning was electricity.

He loved to read and he started the Library Company of Philadelphia with fifty members in 1731. When the national government was in Philadelphia, it was used as the first Library of Congress from the Revolutionary War until 1800. The Library Company of Philadelphia was the largest library in the country until the 1850s. It is still in operation after 280 years.

He founded the country’s first general hospital, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and a school which later became known as the University of Pennsylvania. He also started our country’s first volunteer fire department, known as the Union Fire Company.

Also a famous inventor, Franklin invented a smokeless chimney, the Franklin stove, and a lightning rod to protect people from lightning. He designed a postal system and bifocal glasses.

This successful businessman and story teller also wrote pamphlets. He wrote anonymously as Mrs. Silence Dogood for his brother’s newspaper, New England Courant, when he was 15. The comments and wise advice he included in Poor Richard’s Almanac made it a best seller.

He was on the committee to prepare the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote it, and Franklin helped edit it. He served as minister to France during the war, persuading that country to provide ships and men to help Americans win the war. He also served on the committee that negotiated the peace treaty with Great Britain.

He died at the age of 84, having lived a life full of creativity and hard work.


– Sandra M. Hart

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