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Benjamin Franklin the Newspaper Man

His Famous Newspapers


Franklin Stove

When offered a patent for the fireplace's design, Benjamin Franklin turned it down.

"The Universal Instructor in All Arts and Sciences and Pennsylvania Gazette" was the odd-sounding name of a newspaper which Benjamin Franklin's old boss, Samuel Keimer, had started in Philadelphia. After Samuel Keimer declared bankruptcy, Benjamin Franklin took over the newspaper with its ninety subscribers.

Pennsylvania Gazette

The "Universal Instructor" feature of the paper consisted of a weekly page of "Chambers's Encyclopedia". Benjamin Franklin eliminated this feature and dropped the first part of the long name. "The Pennsylvania Gazette" in Benjamin Franklin's hands soon became profitable. The newspaper was later renamed "The Saturday Evening Post".

The Gazette printed local news, extracts from the London newspaper the "Spectator", jokes, verses, humorous attacks on Bradford's "Mercury", a rival paper, moral essays by Benjamin, elaborate hoaxes, and political satire. Often Benjamin wrote and printed letters to himself, either to emphasize some truth or to ridicule some mythical but typical reader.

Poor Richard's Almanac

In 1732, Benjamin Franklin published "Poor Richard's Almanac". Three editions were sold within a few months. Year after year the sayings of Richard Saunders, the publisher, and Bridget, his wife, both aliases of Benjamin Franklin, were printed in the almanac. Years later the most striking of these sayings were collected and published in a book.

Shop and Home Life

Benjamin Franklin also kept a shop where he sold a variety of goods including: legal blanks, ink, pens, paper, books, maps, pictures, chocolate, coffee, cheese, codfish, soap, linseed oil, broadcloth, Godfrey's cordial, tea, spectacles, rattlesnake root, lottery tickets, and stoves. Deborah Read, who became his wife in 1730, was the shopkeeper. "We kept no idle servants," wrote Franklin, "our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time bread and milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer with a pewter spoon."

With all this frugality, Benjamin Franklin's wealth increased rapidly. "I experienced too," he wrote, "the truth of the observation, That after getting the first hundred pound, it is more easy to get the second, money itself being of a prolific nature."

He was able at the age of forty-two to retire from active business, and devoted himself to philosophical and scientific studies.

Franklin Stove

Benjamin Franklin made an original and important invention in 1749, the "Pennsylvania fireplace," which, under the name of the Franklin stove. Benjamin Franklin, however, never patented any of his inventions.

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