Benjamin Franklin -one of the founding fathers of America - was born in Boston on June 17, 1706 as the 8th of 17 siblings. Unhappy that his family had thoughts of him becoming a minister, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia at the age of 17. Having apprenticed as a printer with his older brother James, Franklin, by the age of 23, became a successful printer and newspaper man in his own right, publishing the “Pennsylvania Gazette.” As his reputation grew, Ben became (in 1751) the first president of the Academy and College of Philadelphia (which later became the University of Pennsylvania). He organized and became the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society, and by 1769, its president. In 1775, the Continental Congress had appointed Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Fifteen months later, in October of 1776, he was named the first U.S. Ambassadors to France. Upon his return to America, Franklin served as Governor of Pennsylvania (1785 to 1788). Two years after his term ended, Franklin died.
FRANKLIN Court - Situated between Market and Chestnut streets, Franklin Court is a complex of houses, print shop, post office and museum. Franklin lived here between 1763 and 1790 ( although much of the time he was away on business). His house sat within a large courtyard in the middle of the block, accessed by an alley from Market street. He soon began purchasing additional neighboring properties for the purpose of renting them out. By 1787, he had constructed his own print shop in front of his house. Unfortunately, the house and print shop were demolished during redevelopment efforts in 1812. During the 1950’s, the National Park Service began purchasing and reassembling the lots following extensive archeological excavations. Today, in addition to “ghost” replicas of the house and printshop, the courtyard includes a working historic post office, a working replica of Franklin’s print shop, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum (beneath much of the surface of the courtyard). This is a “Must See” in any visit to Philadelphia.
The National Park Service has reproduced a working print shop, from the Franklin era, on one side of the courtyard. The press is set to make copies of the Declaration of Independence.