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Introductory Note: Benjamin Franklin

Introductory Note: Benjamin Franklin

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Published by Home University
Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790). His Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790). His Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

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Published by: Home University on May 18, 2008
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06/16/2009

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Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790). His Autobiography.The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.Introductory NoteBENJAMIN FRANKLIN was born in Milk Street, Boston, on January 6(January 17, new style), 1706. His father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallowchandler who married twice, and of his seventeen children Benjamin was the youngest son. His schooling ended at ten, and at twelve he was boundapprentice to his brother James, a printer, who published the New EnglandCourant. To this journal he became a contributor, and later was for a timeits nominal editor. But the brothers quarreled, and Benjamin ran away, goingfirst to New York, and thence to Philadelphia, where he arrived in October,1723. He soon obtained work as a printer, but after a few months he wasinduced by Governor Keith to go to London, where, finding Keith’s promisesempty, he again worked as a compositor till he was brought back toPhiladelphia by a merchant named Denman, who gave him a position in hisbusiness. On Denman’s death he returned to his former trade, and shortlyset up a printing house of his own from which he published The PennsylvaniaGazette, to which he contributed many essays, and which he made a mediumfor agitating a variety of local reforms. In 1732 he began to issue his famousPoor Richard’s Almanac, for the enrichment of which he borrowed orcomposed those pithy utterances of worldly wisdom which are the basis of alarge part of his popular reputation. In 1758, the year in which he ceasedwriting for the Almanac, he printed in it “Father Abraham’s Sermon,” nowregarded as the most famous piece of literature produced in ColonialAmerica.Meantime Franklin was concerning himself more and more with publicaffairs. He set forth a scheme for an Academy, which was taken up later andfinally developed into the University of Pennsylvania; and he founded an“American Philosophical Society” for the purpose of enabling scientific mento communicate their discoveries to one another. He himself had alreadybegun his electrical researches, which, with other scientific inquiries, hecarried on in the intervals of money-making and politics to the end of hislife. In 1748 he sold his business in order to get leisure for study, havingnow acquired comparative wealth; and in a few years he had made discoveriesthat gave him a reputation with the learned throughout Europe. In politics

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