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The Story of Benjamin Franklin

The Birth of Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin - 1780

Benjamin Franklin - 1780

Johann Elias Haid engraver
In 1682, Josiah Franklin and his wife emigrated to Boston from Northamptonshire, England. His wife died in Boston, leaving Josiah and their seven children alone, but not for long, Josiah Franklin then married a prominent colonial lady named Abiah Folger.

The Birth of Benjamin Franklin

Josiah Franklin, a soap and candlemaker, was fifty-one and his second wife Abiah was thirty-nine, when a great American inventor was born in their house on Milk Street, on January 17, 1706.

Benjamin was Josiah's and Abiah's eighth child and Josiah's tenth son. In the crowded household, with thirteen children there were no luxuries. Benjamin's period of formal schooling was less than two years, and at the age of ten he was put to work in his father's shop.

Benjamin Franklin was restless and unhappy in the shop. He hated the business of soap making. His father took him into various shops in Boston, to see different artisans at work, in the hope that he would be attracted to some trade. But Benjamin Franklin saw nothing that he wished to pursue.

Colonial Newspapers

His fondness for books finally determined his career. His older brother James was a printer, and in those days a printer had to be a literary man as well as a mechanic. The editor of a newspaper was most likely also the journalist, printer, and owner. A few newspaper terms evolved from these one man operations. The editor often composed his articles as he set them in type to be printed; so "composing" came to mean typesetting, and the one who sets the type was the compositor.

James Franklin needed an apprentice and so Benjamin Franklin was bound by law to serve his brother, at the age of thirteen.

New England Courant

James Franklin was the editor and printer of the "New England Courant", the fourth newspaper published in the colonies. Benjamin began writing articles for this newspaper. When his brother was put in jail, because he had printed matter considered libelous, and was forbidden to continue as the publisher, the newspaper was published under Benjamin Franklin's name.

Escape to Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin was unhappy being his brother's apprentice, after serving for about two years, he ran away. Secretly he booked passage on a ship and in three days arrived in New York. However, the only printer in town, William Bradford, could give him no work. Benjamin then set out for Philadelphia. On a Sunday morning in October, 1723, a tired and hungry boy landed upon the Market Street wharf, Philadelphia, and at once set out to find food, work, and adventure.

Continue > Benjamin Franklin as Publisher and Printer

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