About Our Founder
Benjamin Franklin is well-known for his many inventions, including bifocals, the lightning rod and the Franklin stove. We like to think of Penn as one of Franklin’s biggest and best inventions—and one that continues to flourish centuries after its founding. In his “Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania” (1749), Franklin outlined a progressive college: one that would offer practical as well as classical instruction in order to prepare youth for real-world pursuits. Franklin’s spirit of free inquiry and learning in the service of society continues to guide the University today.
Franklin (1706-1790) was a true Renaissance man, known for his devotion to education, support for intellectual pursuits and commitment to the public good. He was a successful entrepreneur and printer, and could boast a remarkable number of “firsts” to his name, including publishing America’s first political cartoon in the “Pennsylvania Gazette”.
Franklin lived his dictum: “Energy and persistence conquer all things,” whether he was launching civic service projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia’s streets or founding America’s first subscription library. He is also remembered as a respected statesman who argued in 1754 for a plan to unite the colonies and later co-drafted the Declaration of Independence and signed the Constitution. Franklin’s influence reached overseas, establishing his reputation as a great international ambassador.
Franklin asserted, “Either write things worthy reading; or do things worth the writing.” Franklin is remembered as both a skilled writer and a prolific doer, whose vision and projects still resonate throughout Philadelphia and the nation. The links below will guide you through some of this remarkable man’s achievements and contributions.
Penn in the Age of Franklin
A documentary history of Penn’s origins and its early years from 1740 to 1791.
Celebrating Benjamin Franklin’s 300th Birthday
- Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary
Penn’s site celebrating the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth.
- Ben Franklin 300
Official site of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary.
Benjamin Franklin: Glimpses of the Man
The Franklin Institute’s virtual exhibit devoted to their namesake.
The Electric Ben Franklin
An engaging and extensive resource featuring games, narratives, original writings, pictures, streaming video, and more.
- The Quotable Franklin
Some of Franklin’s most famous and witty maxims.
Benjamin Franklin: PBS
A chronicle of Franklin’s life and accomplishments, compiled by the creators of the PBS special “Benjamin Franklin”.
Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History
Meticulously researched biographical sketch by noted Franklin scholar J. A. Leo Lemay.
Benjamin Franklin: An Enlightened American
New York City students created this site as an education and research tool