Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the most celebrated of America's Founding Fathers, a man who enjoyed success as an inventor, scientist, printer, politician, and diplomat. He helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
It was Franklin who first devised the unsuccessful Albany Plan for intercolonial government in 1754, to coordinate colonial efforts during the French and Indian War. By the time of the Stamp Act crisis in 1765, Franklin was living in London. He misunderstood the colonial mindset when he reassured the English of American loyalty to the King, and that the colonists would have no objection to "external" taxes (customs duties). Still, like most Americans, once he became persuaded by the argument for independence, he became one of the monarchy's fiercest opponents. Franklin was the most famous American in the world at the time, and when he returned to the colonies on 5 May 1775—just a few weeks after the first shots of the war were fired at Lexington and Concord—he immediately found himself elected as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. There Franklin proved that he had already moved past most Patriots by considering colonial petitions to the King as useless. He believed that independence was inevitable, and he correctly predicted that achieving it would require a long war.