Benjamin Franklin  (1706-1790)

American Statesman and Freemason FDC

Benjamin Franklin  (1706-1790)  American Statesman, scientist, philosopher and author.  Born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Mass.  Apprenticed to his brother, James, a printer, when only 12, he left him five years later after disagreements, and settled in Philadelphia.  First employed as a printer, he became proprietor of a printing business and published The Pennsylvania Gazette, 1730-48 and gained wide recognition with his Poor Richard's Almanack, 1732-57.  In 1727 he organized the "Junto" club which became the American Philosophical Society, and in 1731 laid the foundations for a library which developed into the Philadelphia Public Library.    He was instrumental in improving the lighting of city streets, invented a heating stove about 1744 (which is still being made), and, became interested in electricity, tried his famous kite experiments in 1752.  In 1748 he sold his business to the foreman and retired to devote himself to public life.  In 1754 he was Pennsylvania's delegate to the Albany Congress and from 1757-62 was in England representing Pa. in efforts to enforce taxes on proprietary estates.  In 1766 he was called before the English House of Commons to explain colonial opposition to the Stamp Tax.  He returned to Philadelphia when the war became inevitable in 1775.  He was a member of the second Continental Congress of 1775 and was on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, being one of its signers.  In 1776 he was sent as one of a committee of three to negotiate a treaty with France.  He became immensely popular during his stay which lasted until 1785, during which time he was U.S. minister.  In 1781 he was named with Jay and Adams to negotiate peace with Great Britain and returned to Philadelphia in September 1785.  From 1785-87 he was president of the Pa. executive council.  In 1727 he organized the "Leathern Apron Club" as a secret society in Philadelphia (non-Masonic); and on December 8, 1730 printed an article in his paper pretending to reveal Masonic mysteries.  Two months later (Feb., 1731) he received his degrees in St. John's Lodge of Philadelphia and became active in its work from the very beginning.  He was secretary of the Lodge from 1735-38; elected junior grand warden of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on June 24, 1732 and the grand master on June 24, 1734.  He was appointed provincial grand master (first native born) by Thomas Oxnard, of Boston on June 10, 1749.  He was deposed as provincial grand master by William Allen on March 13, 1750, but immediately appointed deputy grand master.  On March 12, 1752 he was named to a committee for building "the Free-Mason's Lodge" in Philadelphia and on June 24, 1755 took a prominent part in the dedication of the same as the first Masonic building in America.  In 1760 he was named provincial grand master of Philadelphia.  In 1734 he printed Anderson's Constitutions as Mason Book, which was the first Masonic book printed in America.  In 1759 he was a visitor to Lodge Saint David at Edinburgh, Scotland and on November 17, 1760 was present at the Grand Lodge of England, held at Crown & Anchor, London as "provincial grand master."  On April 7, 1778 he assisted in the initiation of Voltaire, in the Lodge of Nine Sisters in Paris, and affiliated with that Lodge the same year.  On November 28, 1778 he officiated at the Masonic funeral services held by that Lodge for Voltaire.  On May 21, 1779 we find him elected master of the Lodge of Nine Sisters.  He served as master for two years.  On July 7, 1782 he was a member of the Respectable Lodge de Saint Jean de Jerusalem and on April 24, 1785 was elected honorary master of the same.  He was also elected honorary member of the Loge des Bon Amis of Rouen, France in 1785.  He died April 17, 1790.




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