Benjamin Franklin

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Table of Contents

1. Who was Benjamin Franklin

2. James and the Print Shop

3. Finding a job and a Love

4. Another Friend and Another Job

5. Success

6. The Junto Club vs The Freemasons vs The Philosophical Society

7.Libraries, Hospitals, Lighting Rods and the Fire Company

8. Married?? Children?? Did he??

9. Poor Richard's Almanack

10. Arguments

11. Taxation without Representation

12. The Revolutionary War

13. The Ends

Who was Benjamin Franklin?

In 1689 Josiah’s wife, Anne died and he remarried to Abiah who became Benjamin Franklin’s mother. Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston Massachusetts to a family of 14 children. His parents were Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger Franklin. He grew up and taught himself how to read. He went to Boston Latin School and skipped many grades since he was so smart. He read a lot and loved books. He was ironically good in writing but failed at math. Unfortunately his family was a big family and there were too many mouths to feed for Franklin’s education to continue after his 2 other siblings were born. He ended up working at home for his Father’s tallow chandler business. A tallow chandler was a person who melted animal fat and molded into candles and soap. It was a very dirty business but Franklin did his best to satisfy his father.

James and the print shop

At age 12 he was sent to be an apprentice to his brother James at a print shop. He started secretly writing for the New England Courant. James did not know this but some of the writers such as Harry Meanwell, Anthony Afterwit, Alice Addertongue, and Richard Saunders were all Benjamin. Mrs. Silence Dogood was also Franklin. “She” was very funny in “her” writing and everyone admired “her” stories. These were Franklin’s pen names and it was a good things he had them because when his brother finally did find out when “Mrs. Silence Dogood” had written 14 letters James found out and he began abusing his brother. He yelled at Franklin all the time and made him work hard late hours. At age 17 he left but his brother told everyone in the town to not let Ben work for them.

2 things happened. 1 good thing for Ben and one bad thing for James. James was extremely good at printing articles in the newspaper to make officials mad. He had already got thrown in jail twice for writing something that angered the officials. He got in trouble again a couple of years later but this time he was in more trouble than ever and got the choice of staying in jail for even more time or giving up the job as being a printer. He chose giving up his printing job, then Franklin took the job.

After James found out who Mrs. Silence Dogood was he got very mad a jealous and started taking it out on Ben and abusing him.

Finding a job and love

First, Franklin moved away to Pennsylvania. He had no money and no home. Next, he found work with Samuel Keimer as a printer but he soon wanted to start up his own print shop. The governor told him to do so and even promised him that he would send money to help establish the shop. Unfortunately, Ben found out that the governor usually tried to act smart and wealthy but really wasn’t. Then he went to London to work there. When he had enough money in 1726 he sailed back to Pennsylvania. He started courting a woman named Deborah that he had stayed with earlier when he had first arrived at Pennsylvania. They were going get married but when Franklin traveled again he sent her a cold letter and she ended up marrying John Rodgers. Unfortunately he was a man who was in debt with a lot of people. Immediately she regretted her quick thinking and the marriage especially when he went out to the west and never ended up coming back. Some people said he died or was never coming back but it was not a known fact so she was not allowed to remarry. She was very sad and regretted not waiting for Ben.

Another Friend and Another Job

After he wrote a pamphlet about religious views he was disappointed about how well it had come out but it attracted attention from many people including the higher class men. It started to save all his money as well as he could. He did not go out the fancy dinners he used to go out to and he sometimes stayed in his room and read books instead of going out to drink. On the voyage home from London he met Thomas Denham and opened a print shop with him. He would get 8,000 dollars a year. They went home in July 1726. Soon after Thomas died so Ben went back to working for Keimer. ‘the clumsy printer.” He gave a Ben a very high salary. This was very unusual and Ben found out why. Keimer was planning to have Ben teach apprentices and then fire him once he was done. Franklin did not give up hope though. He worked extra hard and improved the shop in many ways. He made his own ink and changed the wood print blocks into metal ones. He even worked so hard that the shop got the contract to print New Jersey money, since there was no government to print the money.


Ben continued to improve the business and soon Meredith Hugh offered to open a print shop with Ben. His dad would take care of the money and they could work together. He agreed and soon the business was open and getting more and more money and more and more successful. He made sure everyone knew he was a hard worker. He soon bought the failing Pennsylvania Gazette from Keimer and soon one over Andrew Bradford.

The Junto Club vs the Freemasons vs the Philosophical Society

Franklin formed the Junto Club for common merchants who wanted to talk about different current events. They met every Friday night. Sometimes they were nicknamed the “Leather Apron Club” because they were merchants and many of them wore aprons to work. To join you had to wanted to be a better person and curious about the world. The Junto club grew and grew into a bigger association and they had to rent a little private room for the meetings.

The Philosophical Society was very similar to the Junto Club except Franklin thought it would be a good idea to have that sort of gathering in all the colonies. In 1743 he started the Philosophical Society. This was a place where leaders could get together and think.

It was sort of like the Junto Club except this was country wide.

The Freemasons was an association that you had to get invited into the club. You also had to be a rich important person and not just an ordinary merchant. In this group you had to believe and do the same things in the other clubs too. Franklin was very mad though because he was not invited to join. He printed articles in the Gazette about the club but when that didn’t work he printed something that looked like her gave out secrets and it worked.

Libraries, Hospitals, Lighting Rods and the Fire Company

Can you imagine when there was no hospital or no library? This is the time when Franklin grew up. Have you heard of midwives? Those were the people who helped the ladies give birth back in the day when there were no hospitals What about fires. There was a time when there was no such thing as dialing 911 and having a fire truck come. One of Benjamin’s most famous inventions was the lightning rod. This was a big rod that was attached to the side of buildings and sent the lightning right down into the ground. Benjamin Franklin made founded and made all of them. He founded the library because he was in love with reading and remembered when he was younger and spent every penny on buying books to read. He wanted a place where people could pay some money every month and borrow books whenever they pleased. If they forgot to bring back the books on time they had to pay such a large fee that normally people would bring back their books on time. The money from the fees were used for buying new books or fixing broken ones. Franklin founded the fire company because he knew that in the big bustling cities if one building caught on fire the rest would catch on very quickly since the buildings were so close together. He thought that is there was some company that would always be on call for fighting such fires the city would be a much safer place. The firemen would get paid a little each month from the taxes and when there was a fire the men would rush to put it out.

Getting Married?? Having Children?? Did he??

Franklin started to save a lot of his money and not waste it on silly things such as going out with friends every night. He branched out to different colonies and soon paid off his debt. He “married” Deborah. Since there was no proof of where her real husband had gone and her religion did not allow divorcing she could not get officially married again. They had 3 children. There first died at 4 from smallpox and they had another boy and girl. Sally (the girl) grew up to inherit most of her her father’s possessions, and William grew up to be a proud loyalist.

Poor Richard's Almanack

Franklin wrote the famous Poor Richard’s Almanack. It was really written about one of his friends named Mr. Saunders. He was very poor indeed and his wife was the main reason of this. She always wanted more money, that they didn’t have. It was the best loved almanack. It was funny and had facts sprinkled throughout it. Ben sold about 10,000 copies each year. When James died he sent copies over the James’ wife to help her pay off her debts. Some of the catchy sayings were “A penny saved is a penny earned. No gains without pains. A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one. He that lays down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” He published it at 26 years old.


How did this start? Franklin and William were over in London again because people thought he could try to convince the Penn's to give Pennsylvanians more freedom. Why did Ben not like Penn? Well neither one of them liked each other. Penn thought Franklin was treated like a royal person and he was a “villain” and Franklin thought Penn should not own Pennsylvania and give it back to Great Britain. So this conflict was a prickly and long lasting one. The voyage over was a very dangerous one because the ship had to dodge other ships that wished it not to be well, such as pirate ships. When he got there he was welcomed in by a cozy away from home family. It belonged to Margaret Stevenson and her daughter Polly. His wife did not like traveling and stayed at home whenever he went on any trips. While he was over there in August of 1757 He met the Penn's. He hoped this would be an opportunity to let the Pennsylvania Assembly “rule” more of the land. This did not work out. Thomas Penn was wealthy and smart and did not want Ben a retired printer telling him what to do. The family made their money by owning Pennsylvania and did not want to let go of it. Franklin thought he was a gentle calm man he got angry and emotions took over him. He had to stay in England a little longer because William wanted to marry and English girl. He went back to America but he had not won the argument with Penn and did not want to be defeated. So he started printing half-truths about the Penn's. He made anti-Penn speeches (that weren’t all true) and started a petition around to get people to sign. In the end though the anti-Penn group got 3,500 signs and the Penn petition got 15,000 signs. This quarrel made him unpopular and he lost his seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly. He was horrified by this and went to England again.

Back in the 1700 people thought that you got sick by the cold air. Ben wore warm clothes but did not bundle up extremely warm. He decided that the way you got sick was if there were many people in one room breathing on each other. People thought he was crazy, His theory did get proved later in 1914 by a German Professor.

Taxation without Representation

England was in huge debt after the French and Indian war and still needed supplies to guard the land they had won. They were in a debt of 137,000,000 pounds!!!! So they decided since they had helped the Americans with the war they should get taxed.

The Revolutionary War

Franklin was chosen to be one of the people to draft the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin only made a few additions to the piece. Franklin thought the national bird should be the turkey. He thought the bald eagle did not honestly. He thought the bird was a courageous bird that was silly and vain and would not hesitate to attack the British soldiers.

Late in 1776 Ben went to France to negotiate with the France to become allies since Britain was one of their great enemies too. He was extremely famous in France and had his face painted on many things such as plates and chamber pots.

The Ends

Franklin went back to America after he convince France to help. He made many more discoveries. He started writing an autobiography. He became a huge abolitionist. He read works by abolitionists and founded the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. He even became president. He was having even greater health problems now and the pleurisy was plaguing him even more. Pleurisy is a disease when the lungs rub together and it makes it really hard to breath. Unfortunately at 11:00pm on April 17, 1790 Benjamin Franklin died at age 84. That was twice the lifespan of someone back in those days.