Benjamin Franklin By: Tan Ly Essay

1356 words - 5 pages

Franklin, Benjamin(1706-1790), American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, and scientist, whose many contributions to the cause of the American Revolution (1775-1783), and the newly formed federal government that followed, rank him among the country's greatest statesmen.Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston. His father, Josiah Franklin, a tallow chandler by trade, 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 in modest circumstances, like most New Englanders of the time. After his attendance at grammar school from age eight to ten, Benjamin was taken into his father's business. Finding the work uncongenial, however, he entered the employ of a cutler. 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 the advancement of his education. His reading included Pilgrim's Progress by the British preacher John Bunyan, Parallel Lives, the work of the Greek essayist and biographer Plutarch, Essay on Projects by the English journalist and novelist Daniel Defoe, and the Essays to Do Good by Cotton Mather, the American Congregational clergyman. 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 prose style.In 1721 his brother James Franklin established the New England Courant, and Benjamin, at the age of 15, was busily occupied in delivering the newspaper by day and in composing articles for it at night. These articles, published anonymously, won wide notice and acclaim for their pithy observations on the current scene. Because of its liberal bias, the New England Courant frequently incurred the displeasure of the colonial authorities. In 1722, as a consequence of an article considered particularly offensive, James Franklin was imprisoned for a month and forbidden to publish his paper, and for a while it appeared under Benjamin's name.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 provincial 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...

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