However, the person he had in mind to run the academy, Rev. Richard Peters, refused and Franklin put his ideas away until , when he printed his own pamphlet, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania. In , Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories. He began the electrical research that, along with other scientific inquiries, would occupy him for the rest of his life, in between bouts of politics and moneymaking.
In , Franklin already a very wealthy man retired from printing and went into other businesses. This lucrative business arrangement provided leisure time for study, and in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with educated persons throughout Europe and especially in France. Franklin became involved in Philadelphia politics and rapidly progressed. In October , he was selected as a councilman, in June he became a Justice of the Peace for Philadelphia, and in he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly.
On August 10, , Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster-general of British North America, see below. His most notable service in domestic politics was his reform of the postal system, with mail sent out every week. In , Franklin and Thomas Bond obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital in what was to become the United States of America.
In , Franklin organized the Philadelphia Contributionship, the first homeowner's insurance company in what would become the United States. Franklin solicited, printed in , and promoted an American textbook of moral philosophy by Samuel Johnson, titled Elementa Philosophica, to be taught in the new colleges to replace courses in denominational divinity. At its first commencement, on May 17, , seven men graduated; six with a Bachelor of Arts and one as Master of Arts.
It was later merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to become the University of Pennsylvania. The College was to become influential in guiding the founding documents of the United States: in the Continental Congress, for example, over one third of the college-affiliated men who contributed the Declaration of Independencebetween September 4, , and July 4, , were affiliated with the College.
In , he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress. This meeting of several colonies had been requested by the Board of Trade in England to improve relations with the Indians and defense against the French. Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union for the colonies. While the plan was not adopted, elements of it found their way into the Articles of Confederationand the Constitution. In , Franklin received an honorary master of arts degree from the College of William and Mary. He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Native American uprisings that beset the American colonies.
Reportedly Franklin was elected "Colonel" of the Associated Regiment but declined the honor. From the mid s to the mid s, Franklin spent much of his time in London. Officially he was there on a political mission, but he used his time to further his scientific explorations as well, meeting many notable people. In , he was sent to England by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a colonial agent to protest against the political influence of the Penn family, the proprietors of the colony. He remained there for five years, striving to end the proprietors' prerogative to overturn legislation from the elected Assembly, and their exemption from paying taxes on their land.
His lack of influential allies in Whitehall led to the failure of this mission. At this time, many members of the Pennsylvania Assembly were feuding with William Penn's heirs, who controlled the colony as proprietors. After his return to the colony, Franklin led the "anti-proprietary party" in the struggle against the Penn family, and was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House in May His call for a change from proprietary to royal government was a rare political miscalculation, however: Pennsylvanians worried that such a move would endanger their political and religious freedoms.
Because of these fears, and because of political attacks on his character, Franklin lost his seat in the October Assembly elections. The anti-proprietary party dispatched Franklin to England again to continue the struggle against the Penn family proprietorship. During this trip, events drastically changed the nature of his mission. In London, Franklin opposed the Stamp Act. Unable to prevent its passage, he made another political miscalculation and recommended a friend to the post of stamp distributor for Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvanians were outraged, believing that he had supported the measure all along, and threatened to destroy his home in Philadelphia.
Franklin soon learned of the extent of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act, and he testified during the House of Commons proceedings that led to its repeal. With this, Franklin suddenly emerged as the leading spokesman for American interests in England. He wrote popular essays on behalf of the colonies. Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts also appointed him as their agent to the Crown.
During his stays there, he developed a close friendship with his landlady, Margaret Stevenson, and her circle of friends and relations, in particular her daughter Mary, who was more often known as Polly. Their house, which he used on various lengthy missions from to , is the only one of his residences to survive.
It opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House museum in Whilst in London, Franklin became involved in radical politics. He belonged to a gentleman's club which he called "the honest Whigs" , which held stated meetings, and included members such as Richard Price, the minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church who ignited the Revolution Controversy, and Andrew Kippis. After his return to the United States in , Franklin became the Society's Corresponding Member, continuing a close connection.
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The study of natural philosophy what we would call science drew him into overlapping circles of acquaintance. Franklin was, for example, a corresponding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which included such other scientific and industrial luminaries as Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin; on occasion he visited them.
In , the University of St Andrews awarded Franklin an honorary doctorate in recognition of his accomplishments. Because of these honors, Franklin was often addressed as "Dr. Franklin also managed to secure an appointed post for his illegitimate son, William Franklin, by then an attorney, as Colonial Governor of New Jersey. This reformed alphabet discarded six letters Franklin regarded as redundant c, j, q, w, x, and y , and substituted six new letters for sounds he felt lacked letters of their own.
This alphabet never caught on, and he eventually lost interest. Franklin used London as a base to travel. In , he visited Edinburgh with his son, and recalled his conversations there as "the densest happiness of my life". From then he was known as "Doctor Franklin". He had never been to Ireland before, and met and stayed with Lord Hillsborough, who he believed was especially attentive.
Franklin noted of him that "all the plausible behaviour I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides. He was the first American to receive this honor. Ireland's economy was affected by the same trade regulations and laws of Britain that governed America. Franklin feared that America could suffer the same effects should Britain's "colonial exploitation" continue.
Franklin spent two months in German lands in , but his connections to the country stretched across a lifetime. He declared a debt of gratitude to German scientist Otto von Guericke for his early studies of electricity. Franklin also co-authored the first treaty of friendship between Prussia and America in News of his electrical discoveries was widespread in France.
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His reputation meant that he was introduced to many influential scientists and politicians, and also to King Louis XV. One line of argument in Parliament was that Americans should pay a share of the costs of the French and Indian War, and that therefore taxes should be levied on them. Franklin became the American spokesman in highly publicized testimony in Parliament in He stated that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire.
He said local governments had raised, outfitted and paid 25, soldiers to fight France—as many as Britain itself sent—and spent many millions from American treasuries doing so in the French and Indian War alone. In , Franklin obtained private letters of Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, proving that they had encouraged the Crown to crack down on Bostonians.
Franklin sent them to America, where they escalated the tensions. The letters were finally leaked to the public in the Boston Gazette in mid-June , causing a political firestorm in Massachusetts and raising significant questions in England. Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, He returned to Philadelphia in March , and abandoned his accommodationist stance. Franklin is known to have occasionally attended the hellfire club's meetings during as a non-member during his time in England.
However, some authors and historians would argue Benjamin Franklin was in fact a British spy. As there are no records left having been burned in  , many of these members are just assumed or linked by letters sent to each other.
In , soon after Franklin returned to Pennsylvania from England for the first time, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac's Rebellion. The Paxton Boys, a group of settlers convinced that the Pennsylvania government was not doing enough to protect them from American Indian raids, murdered a group of peaceful Susquehannock Indians and marched on Philadelphia. Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob.
He met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse. Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice of the Paxton Boys.
He provided an early response to British surveillance through his own network of counter-surveillance and manipulation. By the time Franklin arrived in Philadelphia on May 5, , after his second mission to Great Britain, the American Revolution had begun—with fighting between colonials and British at Lexington and Concord. The New England militia had trapped the main British army in Boston.
In June , he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence.