Mrs. Joanne Fortier/Mrs. Donna McDougal
There were many great men in the past who have contributed greatly to the growth
prosperity and independence to this country. These historical figures include such men as
Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. These men served their country as
revolutionary war leaders and helped American to become the free and just country it is
Benjamin Franklin, born January 17, 1706, was the 10th son, and 15th child, of 17
children in the Josiah Franklin family.
Josiah was a soap and candlemaker, who lived in
Boston, Massachusetts with his second wife, Abiah Folger. Although Franklin learned to
read at an early age, he only attended grammar school for two years. By the time he was
10 years old, Franklin was working for his father. However, he didn’t enjoy the
candlemaking profession, and two years later, Franklin was apprenticed to his brother
For five years, Franklin sought to master the printers’ trade. During this time, he
also strove to improve his education. Franklin read numerous classic novels and perfected
his writing style.
One night, Franklin slipped a letter, signed “Silence Dogood,” under the
door of his brother’s newspaper, the New England Courant. That letter and the next 13
written by Franklin were published anonymously. The essays were widely read and
In 1723, at age 17, Franklin left for Philadelphia. He got employed at a printing
job in London, learning many important skills. He came back to Pennsylvania and had by
1730 become owner of a printing business. This is where Franklin published his first
official literary work, The Pennsylvania Gazette.
In 1731, Franklin founded what is considered the first public library. During the
next several years, Franklin was responsible for establishing the first fire department, a
police force, and the Academy of Philadelphia, which became the University of
In 1732, Franklin began compiling and publishing the annual Poor Richard’s
Almanac. With its homely virtues, it attracted a large amount of people interested in his
work and made Franklin’s name a household word.
Franklin had gotten involved in politics and represented Pennsylvania at the
Albany Congress in 1754, called in response to the French and Indian Wars. In 1757,
Franklin was sent to England to petition the king for the right to levy taxes. He remained
in England for the next five years, and in that time he obtained permission for
Pennsylvania to tax the estates of its proprietors, successfully repealed the Stamp Act, and
represented the voice of several colonies.
He befriended powerful British political leaders
and wrote political satires and pamphlets on public affairs, helping keep the colonies
During the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin spoke on the
problems of society, “I cannot but lament…the impending calamities Britain and her
colonies are about to suffer, from great Imprudencies on both sides- Passion governs, and
she never governs wisely- Anxiety begins to disturb my rest…
” Benjamin Franklin-
In 1776, Franklin went to France, as one of three commissioners, to help negotiate
The Treaty of Commerce and alliance, which was signed with Franklin’s help, in 1778.
He then helped negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain, signed in Paris in 1783,
known as the Treaty of Paris. He remained in France for nine years, working on trade
treaties. Franklin became a hero to the French, and his company was sought by diplomats
and nobility. He was honored by Louis XVI, and his portrait was placed on everything
Returning to the U.S.
in 1785, Franklin served as a member at the Constitutional
Convention in 1787 for 2 years. In 1787, he was elected the first president of the
Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery cause.
Franklin was bedridden during the final year of his life and died on April 17,
1790. As one of his final public acts, he signed a petition to the U.S. Congress urging the
abolition of slavery, just two months before his death at the age of 84 in 1790.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia. His father,
Peter Jefferson, was a surveyor who built a substantial estate; he died in 1757 leaving
Jefferson and his family a very wealthy will. His mother, the former Jane Randolph, was
a member of one of Virginia’s most wealthy and respected families. Jefferson was the
oldest of two sons; he also had six sisters.
In 1760, Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg,
Virginia. He studied law with the state’s leading legal scholar, .