Benjamin Franklin, scientist, inventor, politician, philosopher and postman is probably Philadelphia’s most illustrious son. He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and had a successful life as a printer and general good egg about town before the war of independence and actually lived in London for 10 years as the Colony of Pennsylvania’s representative in London, before Independence. He brokered the peace treaty between USA and UK after the war and was over 80 when the constitutional convention sat in Philadelphia. He turned up everyday, carried in, in the only sedan chair in the USA which he had bought in Paris on his travels. He was a pioneer of electricity, and also invented the lightening conductor and was both a printer and publisher of some renown. He founded the University of Pennsylvania which is America’s oldest University and the first non-sectarian institution. You can’t help admiring his limitless curiosity and impact throughout his life. The postman jibe is true. He was the first Postmaster General.
He built the terrace of houses for profit and lived along side his printing works through the alley and in the middle courtyard. Everything has been pulled down apart from the terrace.
Underneath the courtyard is a museum dedicated to Benjamin Franklin which was deserted when I was there and has, frankly, seen better times. I was very upset to see that, of all the portraits of important people who influenced Franklin around the walls of the museum, only Thomas Paine (my namesake and distant relative) is covered up by an ugly wardrobe!