Like many men at the time, Benjamin Franklin had slaves, but he realised that slavery was wrong and freed his slaves in the 1760s.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) is most famous for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, but as well as a statesman and politician, he was also a talented writer, scientist and inventor. Benjamin also improved the lives of ordinary citizens by starting many important institutions still found in America today. Find out more about this talented and versatile man and use our collection of printable resources below to explore his life and learn more about him.
- During his teenage years, Benjamin worked as an apprentice at a print shop run by his brother James. Although his brother refused to publish his work, Benjamin began writing letters under the false name Mrs Silence Dogood. His letters delighted readers but made James very angry when he found out who was responsible!
- For 25 years, Benjamin also published a book called Poor Richard’s Almanack, which included many of his wise and witty sayings. Today, he appears in print most often on the back of the US $100 note, which has featured his portrait for over a hundred years.
Favourite Benjamin Franklin Quotes
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
“Well done is better than well said.”
“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
A Short Biography of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, USA, in 1706 to Josiah Franklin and his second wife Abiah. Josiah had seven children with his first wife and ten with Abiah. Benjamin was his fifteenth child, and youngest son.
When Benjamin was 10, he left school to support his father’s business, as a soap and candle maker. But Benjamin loved to read and became very knowledgeable. Josiah thought his son should start an apprenticeship at a print shop run by Benjamin’s brother James. Benjamin soon learnt a great deal about newspaper publishing.
But Benjamin became increasingly unhappy working for his brother for no pay and ran away to Philadelphia at the age of 17. He began working for another printer and lodged at the home of John Read. Benjamin later married John’s daughter Deborah and they had two children together, Francis and Sarah. Francis sadly died from smallpox at the age of four. Benjamin also had an older son, William, from a previous relationship.
Around the time of his marriage, Benjamin was named the official printer of Pennsylvania, and soon ran one of the country’s most successful newspapers. He began publishing books and turned his attentions to science. Before long, he was one of Pennsylvania’s richest men.
Like many men of the time, Benjamin employed slaves to work for him. But he began to realise this was wrong. He freed his slaves in the 1760s and campaigned for the abolition of slavery.
Benjamin also felt a great sense of duty to ordinary people and his legacy is seen in many public services in America today. He founded the first public lending library in the US, for example, and helped to found America’s first public hospital. He was also the country’s first Postmaster General, starting regular mail deliveries, and organised Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire service. He served several roles in government, too, and was recognised as a key statesman as one of the Founding Fathers to draft the US constitution when the country separated from British rule.
Benjamin is also famous for his experiments with electricity. He proved, for example, that lightning is a type of electricity. One stormy day, he (dangerously) flew a kite attached to a metal key by a piece of string. Fortunately, the kite wasn’t struck by lightning, but Benjamin noticed a spark on the key caused by an electric charge. He later invented the lightning conductor – a metal rod fixed to tall buildings to transfer electricity safely to the ground in the event of a lightning strike. We also have Benjamin to thank for bifocal lenses (used for both distance and near-vision) and the Franklin stove (a metal-lined fireplace that’s unique shape created more heat with less smoke and fuel).
It’s remarkable how much Benjamin achieved during his lifetime. He died at the age of 84 after suffering poor health and was buried next to his wife Deborah. The city of Philadelphia mourned a man who used his success to make a real difference to ordinary people’s lives.
Our Benjamin Franklin Resources
Our booklets are a great place to write down the information you've found out about a famous person.
Here's a fun colouring page to introduce younger children to Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.
Ask the kids to read our text all about Benjamin Franklin, then answer the questions at the end to test what they have found out about his life.
Benjamin Franklin currently appears on the back of the US $100 banknote, but can the children design their own banknote to celebrate his achievements?
Did you know that the United States post office has issued over 130 stamps featuring Benjamin Franklin? This fun worksheet lets the children design their own stamp celebrating his achievements.
Benjamin Franklin is famous for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, but he was also a scientist, inventor and writer. Find out a little more about him by reading our factsheet.
This worksheet asks the children to imagine they are interviewing Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States - what would be some good questions to ask him, and what would the audience like to hear?
The kids can use our Benjamin Franklin newspaper writing prompt to describe his life and achievements, and they can colour in the picture of him if they like too. ..
Do some research about Benjamin Franklin, then write your notes down on our handy notebooking pages.
Benjamin Franklin is considered to be a polymath - someone who has wide knowledge in many different areas. This worksheet asks the children to research his many skills and make a mindmap to record his numerous achievements.
Our famous people posters look great displayed in groups on a classroom wall, or you can use them in scrapbooks and project work - this one features Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
"Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today". I think many of us may have heard this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin before, and we've set it against a stunning background of beautiful clocks on this quote poster.
Our simple quote worksheets are a great way to introduce younger kids to famous people. Can the children write about the meaning of a quote by Benjamin Franklin then rewrite it in their own words too?
Use our fun story paper for writing what you have learned about Benjamin Franklin. We have lined or handwriting versions - and of course there's a colouring picture, too!
This story paper features a portrait of American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and is ideal for older children writing about this famous man.
Ask the children to research the life of Benjamin Franklin, then fill in the important events on our timeline worksheet.
This simple worksheet is aimed at younger children, to help them record what they have learned about Benjamin Franklin. They can have fun thinking about what they would say to him if they met him!
Our Benjamin Franklin writing page is perfect for children to record their own research. Do they know what he did and why we remember him today? Available in colour or black and white.
As well as being famous for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a talented writer, inventor and scientist. This worksheet asks the children to design their own award to celebrate his achievements.
Can the children imagine they are setting up their own country and write down the country's constitution, just like Benjamin Franklin did for the United States of America?
Kids can learn how to draw one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, with our step-by-step drawing tutorial.