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Interpreting the Evidence

Painting of Benjamin Franklin, by J.S. Duplessis (1725-1802), Lantern Slide, 1911

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Revolution and New Nation (1754 - 1820s)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    American Revolution
    Colonial America

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Painting of Benjamin Franklin, by J.S. Duplessis (1725-1802), Lantern Slide, 1911 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin. From a painting by J.S. Duplessis (1725-1802). Lantern slide created in 1911.
Historical Context
Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous men in American history.  Born in 1706, he participated in the events that led to the American Revolution and the birth of the United States.  Franklin was the only person to have signed all three of the major documents that helped to establish the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the Constitution of the United States.

Although Franklin may be best known as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he is also famous for his accomplishments in a variety of different fields.  Franklin was a successful printer and writer and an enthusiastic inventor and scientist.  He also founded a number of important institutions, including the first lending library in the United States, the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Hospital.  In all, Franklin was an extroardinary man whose life and accomplishments extend far beyond what can be summarized in a single page.

Essential Question
How do individuals influence the development of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the portrait and evaluate the impact of Benjamin Franklin's life on the development of American society.
Historical Challenges
What did Benjamin Franklin think about slavery?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Explore the artwork of J.S. Duplessis
Science: What were some of Benjamin Franklin's inventions and scientific discoveries?
English Language Arts: Choose what you think are Benjamin Franklin’s five biggest accomplishments and write a persuasive essay explaining why they are more significant than others.