The Signers Benjamin Franklin
Gift of the John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund, Inc.,
through the generosity and interest
of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd,
and members of the family.
At seventy years of age, Franklin was the oldest delegate to Congress and an American celebrity. His active mind embraced many fields, and he made significant contributions in printing, publishing, authorship, science, and government service. He received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, William and Mary, St. Andrews (Scotland) and Oxford. Benjamin Franklin and William Hunter, a Williamsburg printer, obtained royal appointments as Deputy Postmaster Generals for North America in 1753. The two men overhauled the postal system so that it reported a profit for the first time in its history. Franklin visited Williamsburg for several weeks in the spring of 1756, where he and Hunter were "daily employ'd in Settling our Affairs". In the same letter to his wife, Franklin continued, "About the End of the Week we are to take a Tour into the Country. Virginia is a pleasant Country, now in full Spring; the People extreamly obliging and polite."
Always a traveler, Franklin spent many years in Britain, during which time he visited Continental Europe. In fact, his journey from loyal servant of the Crown to American patriot took place in Britain, where he had been trying to reconcile the British government with its American colonies. He gave up, went home and took a seat in the Continental Congress in 1775. Congress kept him traveling, first to Massachusetts, later to Montreal, but he returned to Philadelphia in time to support Jefferson in the writing and defending of the Declaration.