In Philadelphia, where Franklin spent much of his adult life, 800 people sang "Happy Birthday" and consumed a birthday cake that was 8 feet high and 14 feet long. The attendees included Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and a bevy of congressional representatives.
For many, the tercentenary is a chance to remember Franklin's remarkable accomplishments. By the time the 70-year-old Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, he had, among other things, written "Poor Richard's Almanac," mapped the Gulf Stream, done major research in electricity, invented the lightning rod, helped found Philadelphia's first hospital, served as a military officer in the French and Indian Wars and spent years in England as a colonial representative and social lion.
Before his death at 84 in 1790, he was one of the first U.S. diplomats, representing the government in Paris.