(National Portrait Gallery, Washington)
Franklin was one the most accomplished American minds, not only of the 18th century, but possibly of all time. There was seemingly nothing Franklin couldn’t do or wasn’t interested in. He was a statesman, an author, a publisher, a scientist, an inventor and a diplomat throughout the course of his long life. During the American Revolution, he served in the Second Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He was paramount in obtaining support from King Louis XVI of France and was largely responsible for his signing the important military alliance of 1778. Franklin furthermore negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris which effectively ended the Revolutionary War. In 1787, in his final significant act of public service, he was a delegate to the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution.