Like other leaders of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lived in a time of tumultuous changes. Born into a traditional Puritan society, he grew up with the morals and ideas of America's first European settlers. In the early eighteenth century, America was still a collection of scarcely populated colonies, its people spread out over a vast area with only a few ramshackle cities. The colonies had distinctly different identities: Massachusetts was orderly and Puritan, Pennsylvania was Quaker, New York was largely Dutch, Virginia was aristocratic. The colonies had little in common aside from their ties to Britain. In 1706, the year of Franklin's birth, few would have predicted that by 1790, the year of Franklin's death, the American colonies would be independent from Britain and united as a single, massive country. Though America's eventual independence was not inevitable, in retrospect it is not
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