Before the United States of America even existed, the first American celebrity was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). In his career, Franklin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. After having his hand in all kinds of community service in Philadelphia, and inventing important devices like lightning rods, Franklin used his unique status as an international celebrity to become the colonies' best diplomat, first as an ambassador to Britain and then as an ambassador to France during the American Revolution. Franklin was particularly revered in Enlightened France, where he skillfully negotiated French entry into the Revolutionary War in a manner that practically bankrupted them, a critical step that helped the colonists win their independence. After negotiating the Treaty of Paris, Franklin played a role at the Constitutional Convention in his adopted home town of Philadelphia during the twilight of his life.
Like other Founding Fathers, Franklin's lengthy career and magnificent exploits have been heavily embellished, to the point that some of the myths of Franklin's life are better known than the man himself. In addition to highlighting his life and legacy, American Legends: The Life of Benjamin Franklin also humanizes the First American, a charming ladies' man who had a bitter falling out with his son over the Revolution.