The Greatness that is Benjamin Franklin
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The Greatness that is Benjamin Franklin
“The First American”
A Printer’s Epitaph
The Body of
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended
By the Author.
He was born Jan. 6, 1706.
Composed by Franklin at twenty-two years of age.
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston Massachusetts, right around the time Puritanism died, whether he was born to early or Puritanism died to later, is left to bewilderment, however the two overlapped long enough to be aquatinted, whether it was coincidence or faith one will never know, however the mark left on him would never diminish. He was born to Josiah Franklin, and Josiah’s second wife Abiah Folger. Josiah was a tallow chandler by trade, and had 17 children; Benjamin being the 15th child and the 10th son. The Franklin family was in modest circumstances, like most New Englanders of the time, despite his lower living he still attended grammar school from age eight to ten, after completion Benjamin was taken into his father’s business. By cleverness and hard work he altered himself from the son of a poor candle- and soap-maker into a world-famous scientist, diplomat, philosopher, and writer.
After completing grammar school at age 10, Benjamin was taken into his father’s trade, however he did not remain there long, Benjamin’s passion for word a loath for the uncongenial candle stick making soon lead him down a different path: cutler. His brother James, having recently returned from London, brought to Boston a new printing press, Benjamin became apprenticed to his brother at the age of 13, during his time with James Franklin, Ben learned the printing trade, devoting his spare time to the advancement of his education. Two years later, in 1721, James established the New England Courant. Ben, merely a pubescent 15 year old was delivery boy by day and author by night. The articles where published anonymously and won wide notice and acclaim for their pithy observations on the current scene. Because of its liberal bias, the New England Courant frequently incurred the displeasure of the colonial authorities. In 1722, as a consequence of an article considered particularly offensive, James Franklin was imprisoned for a month and forbidden to publish his paper, and for a while it appeared under Benjamin’s name. From this point forward, through all his trials, and tribulations, Ben would call himself a printer.
At the age of 17, after a number of disagreements with James, Ben left Boston to set out to make his fortune and settled in Philadelphia; he arrived in early October 1723, and was quickly able to find a job as a printer. As he perfected his trade his circle of friends increased, among the circle, perhaps more deservedly in the center was Sir William Keith, the royal provincial governor of Pennsylvania. Sir William Keith was able to persuade Benjamin to travel to the great city of London to complete his training as a printer and to purchase the equipment needed to start a printing establishment in Philadelphia. Whether the Governors interest were feigned from the start or simply contaminated due to unintereste deriving from interest of something new will never be told, what is know is that upon arrival of the young 18 year old in London on a cold day in December 1724, promised letters of introduction and credit, as well as an expense fund were not to be found, leaving Franklin without means in a strange city. Franklin however was able to rely on his resourcefulness, cunning, wit, and sheer intelligence to obtain employment at two of London’s foremost printing houses: Palmer’s and Watt’s. In October 1726, Franklin had saved enough money to return to Philadelphia, with his press, and resumed his trade. The following year, with a number of his acquaintances, he organized a discussion group known as the Junto, which later became the American Philosophical Society. In September 1729, he bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, a dull, poorly edited weekly newspaper, which he made, by his witty style and judicious selection of news, both entertaining and informative. In 1730 he married Deborah Read, a Philadelphia woman whom
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Benjamin Franklin, Josiah Franklin, The New-England Courant, James Franklin, Deborah Read, Poor Richards Almanack, Franklin, Kite experiment, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, William Goddard
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