Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
benjamin franklin












citizen ben
wit and wisdom
inquiring mind
world of influence
explore
timeline
ben a to z
about the show
teacher's guide
site credits
resources
feedback
explore
how shockingben's townworldly waysvirtue quizmake a kite

back to map

atlantic ocean

Benjamin Franklin crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times in his lifetime, his first voyage at age 18 to London and his last trip at age 79, returning from France back to Philadelphia. Franklin discovered early on that he didn’t suffer from seasickness, which was a good thing, as the perilous transatlantic crossing usually took at least six weeks and could take as long as two or three months. He used much of his time at sea for writing and conducting experiments. Franklin began his lifelong fascination with natural science while crossing the ocean. On a number of voyages, Franklin took daily measurements of water temperature and performed other experiments that led him to create the first chart of the Gulf Stream. He also made a number of observations about meteorology and improved navigational techniques.

Here is a summary of Franklin’s eight voyages:

• Franklin embarked on his first transatlantic voyage on November 5, 1724, aboard the London Hope, landing in London on December 24.

• In July of 1726, Franklin began his voyage back to the colonies. Because of headwinds, they didn’t actually leave the English coast for almost twenty days. Franklin finally reached Philadelphia in October.

• Franklin’s next crossing was in 1757, when he traveled to London as the agent of the Pennsylvania assembly.

• In the summer of 1762, Franklin sailed westward to the colonies. On the way to America, the ship stopped at the island of Madeira, off the coast of Africa.

• In the winter of 1764, Franklin was re-appointed Pennsylvania’s agent to England and sailed back to London.

• Franklin returned to America in March of 1775. He made the voyage with his grandson Temple. They arrived in America in May.

• In the early winter of 1776, Franklin, accompanied by two grandsons—Temple Franklin and Benny Bache—made the voyage from America to France aboard the ship Reprisal.

• In 1785, Franklin left France for England in early summer, and then set sail for America in late July, arriving in Philadelphia in September.

copyright 2002 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.