Silliman was the son of Gold Selleck Silliman lawyers and his wife Mary Noyes. After his studies, he was called Silliman in 1802 as a professor of chemistry at Yale College (now Yale University) in New Haven. In 1805 he visited Europe to procure books and scientific equipment for his classes at college.
On September 17, 1809 married Harriet Silliman, a daughter of the politician Jonathan Trumbull junior and thus granddaughter of politician Jonathan Trumbull senior. He had four children with her: et al Benjamin (1816-1885) the later chemists. Professors Oliver P. Hubbard (1809-1900) and James Dwight Dana were his sons.
1851 Silliman married his second wife Sarah Webb, a daughter of John McClellan. 1852 Silliman retired and moved slowly back into private life. He died at age 85 years on 24 November 1864, and found his last resting place in the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven.
Silliman gained great achievements in the promotion of science in North America, including by the publication of the American Journal of science and arts ( since 1818 ), in which he also published numerous proprietary chemical, physical, geological and other studies. In 1851 he again visited England and the European continent and reported it in his book Narrative of a visit to Europe reported in 1851.
Round held by the lectures, the Silliman many years in almost all major cities of the Union, he contributed much to the spread of scientific knowledge.
- A journal of travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, and of two passages over the Atlantic, in the years 1805 and 1806 (1812 ). New York 1810.
- Objections to the nomenclature of the Celebrated Berzelius: with suggestions respecting a substitute, in a letter to Professor Silliman; first published in 1834 and republished in Silliman 's Journal for 1835, Vol XXVII
- Remarks made on a short tour in between Hartford and Quebec, in the autumn of 1819 [ microform] Printed and published by S. Converse New Haven Conn.1820.
- Elements of chemistry. New Haven in 1831 ( 2 vols ). Benjamin Silliman, Jr.
- Consistency of discoveries of modern geology with the Sacred History of the creation and deluge. London 1837.
- A visit to Europe in 1851 Vol I. Publisher:. GP Putnam & Co., New York 1854
- A Visit to Europe in 1851 Vol II Publisher: GP Putnam & Co., New York 1854
The mineral sillimanite was named after him.
On the occasion of his 20th death anniversary him in 1884 at his home in New Haven, Conn. a monument erected.