Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) was one of the most prominent of the Founders, early political figures and statesmen of the United States. He was noted for his curiosity, writings, ingenuity and diversity of interests. He shaped the American Revolution, despite never holding national elective office. A leader of the Enlightenment, he gained the recognition of scientists and intellectuals across Europe and the United States. As an agent in London before the Revolution, and Minister to France during, he more than anyone defined the new nation in the minds of Europe. His success in securing French military and financial aid was the turning point for American victory over Britain. Historians hail him as the "First American".