Biographies & Memoirs

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America, comes vividly to life in this masterly biography. Wit, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and bon vivant, Benjamin Franklin was in every respect America’s first Renaissance man. From penniless runaway to highly successful printer, from ardently loyal subject of Britain to architect of an alliance with France that ensured America’s independence, Franklin went from obscurity to become one of the world’s most admired figures, whose circle included the likes of Voltaire, Hume, Burke, and Kant.

Prologue: January 29, 1774

Chapter 1: Boston Beginnings: 1706–23

Chapter 2: Friends and Other Strangers: 1723–24

Chapter 3: London Once: 1724–26

Chapter 4: An Imprint of His Own: 1726–30

Chapter 5: Poor Richard: 1730–35

Chapter 6: Citizen: 1735–40

Chapter 7: Arc of Empire: 1741–48

Chapter 8: Electricity and Fame: 1748–51

Chapter 9: A Taste of Politics: 1751–54

Chapter 10: Join or Die: 1754–55

Chapter 11: The People’s Colonel: 1755–57

Chapter 12: A Larger Stage: 1757–58

Chapter 13: Imperialist: 1759–60

Chapter 14: Briton: 1760–62

Chapter 15: Rising in the West: 1762–64

Chapter 16: Stamps and Statesmanship: 1764–66

Chapter 17: Duties and pleasures: 1766–67

Chapter 18: Reason and Riot: 1768–69

Chapter 19: The Rift Widens: 1770–71

Chapter 20: To Kick a Little: 1772–73

Chapter 21: The Cockpit: 1774–75

Chapter 22: Rebel: 1775–76

Chapter 23: Salvation in Paris: 1776–78

Chapter 24: Bonhomme Richard: 1778–79

Chapter 25: Minister plenipotentiary: 1779–81

Chapter 26: Blessed Work: 1781–82

Chapter 27: Savant: 1783–85

Chapter 28: Home: 1785–86

Chapter 29: Sunrise at Dusk: 1786–87

Chapter 30: To sleep: 1787–90

Epilogue: April 17, 1990

Source Notes