Natural philosopher, writer, revolutionary politician and inventor. Born Boston, Massachusetts. Crossed the Atlantic 8 times, living for many years apart from his wife and children. A keen swimmer, he often swam in the Thames. Once swam from Chelsea to Blackfriars performing tricks on the way for the benefit of his friends in a boat alongside.
Spent 1724-6 in London working in the printing business and wrote a pamphlet. Was in London again, 1757-62 staying at 7 Craven Street, petitioning the British authorities on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly. In London again, 1764-75, to petition king George III. 1783 signatory to the Treaty of Paris. Owned as many as 7 slaves and expressed the racist views that were common at the time, but later became an outspoken critic of slavery.
Quote: "Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes." Invented: a heat-efficient stove - the "Franklin", bifocal glasses and swimming flippers. Died in Philadelphia.
His Autobiography is very readable.