I learned about Benjamin Franklin in some of my English classes as we studied his autobiography, and I found him to be absolutely fascinating. Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant man, a ladies man, and a party boy. He was hilarious and a genius—it is no wonder that to this day people still visit his grave.
To name only a few of Franklin’s accomplishments: He founded the Philadelphia Library; Founded the Philadelphia Gazette; Founded the first Philadelphia Fire Company; Invented the Franklin Stove; Founded the American Philosophical Society; Founded the Pennsylvania Hospital; Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
On April 17, 1790 Benjamin Franklin died from pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. He was buried on April 21, 1790—a procession that is thought to have included 20,000 mourners.
Franklin is buried in his family plot beside his wife Deborah and his children Francis and Sarah. His grave is on the corner of 5th and Arch Street in the Christ Church Burial Grounds in Philadelphia. In 1858, at the request of Franklin’s descendents, a metal fence was installed to replace the brick wall that originally encased Franklin’s grave. This allowed the public to pay their respects whether the cemetery was open or closed.
There is a tradition of tossing a penny onto Franklin’s grave. It’s ironic because one of Franklin’s famous quotes is “a penny saved is a penny earned.” It is said that this tradition started about twenty years after Franklin’s death when a young bride tossed a penny onto Franklin’s grave for luck in her marriage. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer Franklin makes about $750 per year, which Christ Church uses it its preservation efforts.
Franklin’s character is aptly demonstrated through his quotes; he was a man of strong opinion who loved his alcohol.
I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.
The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.
Although Franklin’s is the most frequently visited grave in the cemetery, other noteworthy graves belong to four other signers of the Declaration of Independence: Joseph Hewes, Francis Hopkinson, George Ross, and Dr. Benjamin Rush.
Christ Church Burial Ground is Open Monday thru Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 12pm thru 4 pm. There is a $2 entry fee for adults, and $1 entry fee for students. You can find more information about visiting here.
The Burial Grounds are definitely worth a visit. They are beautiful and full of history that can be seen in the weather-beaten headstones. If you’re in Philadelphia stop by and pay your respects to the men who helped build our great nation.