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Benjamin Franklin's First Publishings

Publisher and Printer


Currency printed by Benjamin Franklin

Currency printed by Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin found employment with Samuel Keimer, an eccentric printer just beginning business. The young printer soon attracted the notice of Sir William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania, who promised to set him up in his own business. However, the deal was that Benjamin had to go to London first to buy a printing press. The Governor promised to send a letter of credit to London, but he broke his word, and Benjamin Franklin was obliged to remain in London nearly two years working for his fare home.

Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain

It was in London that Benjamin Franklin printed the first of his many pamphlets, an attack on conservative religion, called "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." Though he met some interesting persons in London, he returned to Philadelphia as soon as he was able.

Mechanical Ingenuity

Benjamin Franklin's mechanical ingenuity first revealed itself during his employment as a printer. He invented a method of casting type and making ink.

Junto Society

The ability to make friends was one of Benjamin Franklin's traits, and the number of his acquaintances grew rapidly. "I grew convinced," he wrote, "that truth, sincerity, and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life." Not long after his return from England he founded the Junto Society, a literary group that debated and criticized the writings of the members.

Necessity of a Paper Currency

The father of an apprentice at Samuel Keimer's print shop decided to back his son and Benjamin in starting their own print shop. The son soon sold his share, and Benjamin Franklin was left with his own business at the age of twenty-four. He anonymous printed a pamphlet on "The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency" calling attention to the need for paper money in Pennsylvania, and succeeded in winning the contract to print the money.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, "A very profitable job, and a great help to me. Small favors were thankfully received. And, I took care not only to be inreality industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances to the contrary. I drest plainly; I was seen at no places of idle diversion. And, to show that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I purchased at the stores thru the streets on a wheelbarrow."

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