Who was Benjamin Franklin? Probably not quite who we think he was. Yes, he was one of the "Founding Fathers," the only one who put his name to all three of the founding documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution under which we still live. He may have become famous for his many sayings in praise of being industrious and frugal in one’s calling, but he left his own calling as a printer and retired from business at the age of forty-two to become what he spoke crudely of for years, a gentleman. Once retired, he devoted the rest of his life to public service, but the most important services he performed at the public’s demand were not quite what he thought the public should be doing.
Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706 in Boston. Franklin was the youngest son of seventeen children. Being the baby of the family didn’t come with the benefits it does now. In this time period, the youngest son did not inherited little if anything. Unfortunate for Franklin he never inherited anything throughout his lifetime. At the age of eight years old Franklin’s father, noticing Benjamin’s unusual intellectual aptitude, sent him to grammar school. After two years of grammar school, Franklin was sent back to standard school due to financial expenses. These two years of grammar school were the only proper Franklin acquired; which for this time period was not unusual. Some of the other founding fathers were not presented with much more schooling opportunities than Franklin achieved. Like many other young men, apprenticeship was the route that Franklin’s father chose for him. Franklin started training as a candle and soap maker but due to his “Bookish Inclination” his father agreed that printing would much more suit Franklin’s personality.
At this point, Franklin was sent to work for an older brother, James Franklin. James had just returned from England to set up as a printer in Boston. After realizing Franklin’s talents, James had him sign an unusually long nine year contract. While working for his brother, Franklin read anything he could get his hands on. He had such a hunger for knowledge that he even made friends with apprentices of booksellers to gain more access to more books. Franklin attempted to write poetry but was not satisfied with the outcome or quality of his work, so therefore read Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s Spectator papers to not only improve his writing but to polish it. In reading these Franklin learned the concepts of “prose writing” and attempted to master it. Writing competently was such a rare skill that anyone who could do it well immediately acquired importance. All of the founding fathers achieved their first reputations through something they wrote.
In 1721, James decided to establish his own paper named the New England Courant. Unlike the other three newspapers established in Boston, James’ newspaper actually argued many political views....