Uploaded by ashchap on Nov 24, 2002
Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston. His father, Josiah Franklin, a tallow chandler by trade (someone who trades the hard fat from cattle, sheep, or horses which was used for candles, soaps, and lubricants) had 17 children; Benjamin was the 15th child and the 10th son. His mother, Abiah Folger, was his father's second wife. The Franklin family was Generally, like most New Englanders of the time. After his attendance at grammar school from age 8 to 10, Benjamin was taken into his father's business. Finding the work unpleasant, however, he entered the employ of a cutler (someone who makes cutlery). At age 13 he was apprenticed to his brother James, who had recently returned from England with a new printing press. Benjamin learned the printing trade, devoting his spare time to trying to improve his education. When he acquired a copy of the third volume of the Spectator by the British statesmen and essayists Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, he set himself the goal of mastering its writing style.
As a result of disagreements with James, Benjamin left Boston and made his way to Philadelphia, arriving in October 1723. There he worked at his trade and made numerous friends, among whom was Sir William Keith, the local governor of Pennsylvania. He persuaded Franklin to go to London to complete his training as a printer and to purchase the equipment needed to start his own printing establishment in Philadelphia. Young Franklin took this advice, arriving in London in December 1724. Not having received from Keith certain promised letters of introduction and credit, Franklin found himself, at age 18, without means in a strange city. With characteristic resourcefulness, he obtained employment at two of the foremost printing houses in London. Palmer's and Watt's. His appearance, bearing, and accomplishments soon won him the recognition of a number of the most distinguished figures in the literary and publishing world.
Franklin engaged in many public projects. In 1731 he founded what was probably the first public library in America, chartered in 1742 as the Philadelphia Library. He first published Poor Richard's Almanack in 1732, under the pen name Richard Saunders. This modest volume quickly gained a wide and appreciative audience, and its homespun, practical wisdom exerted a pervasive influence upon the American character. In 1736 Franklin became clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the next year was appointed deputy postmaster of...